Ford, Tory break ground on new Ontario Line, promise support to impacted businesses

When it comes to the “unprecedented” disruption facing Torontonians with the construction of the Ontario Line, the city and province will “do better” to support impacted businesses than those affected by the Eglinton Crosstown construction, Mayor John Tory said.

Tory made the comments alongside Premier Doug Ford, Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, and federal Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra at Exhibition Place during the official groundbreaking for the nearly 16-kilometres subway line.

“It is a subject of huge concern to me,” Tory said about the disruption to local businesses.

He said the intersection of Queen and Yonge streets, in the heart of the downtown core, is expected to be closed for years due to the project.

“We are going to work with those businesses, we are going to work with Metrolinx and the Government of Ontario to make sure they do receive some support,” Tory said.

Tory acknowledged the pain businesses have suffered along Eglinton Avenue due to the LRT construction and vowed to “do better” when it comes to taking care of businesses along the Ontario Line.

“I think the first thing we’ve done is to be straight up with people… there is going to be disruption. And we simply have to get it built.”

Ford said public consultation will continue with businesses during the construction process.

“We’ve consulted with business owners up and down the line and we are going to be there to support them,” Ford said.

The 15-stop subway line is expected to run from Exhibition Place, through the downtown core, and finally to the Ontario Science Centre.

A proposed map of the Ontario Line is pictured. (Metrolinx)

Metrolinx says the capital costs associated with the project are $10.9 billion and the province has previously said that the new transit line is projected to be operational by 2030. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Phil Verster, the president and CEO of Metrolinx, would not confirm if that is still the projected date for opening the subway line.

“For decades, governments of every stripe have been talking about the need for new subways in the GTA,” Ford said Sunday.

“Finally we are the government that got it done. Today we are getting shovels in the ground on this once-in-a-lifetime project.”

Ford said the subway line is expected to generate $11 billion in economic benefits for the City of Toronto and the GTA and will significantly reduce congestion on the current subway system.

“We want to see any end to the overcrowded subway stations and subway cars,” Ford said.

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