STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES BUDGETS DES DÉPENSES
Wednesday 20 November 2019 Mercredi 20 novembre 2019
The committee met at 1604 in room 151.
Ministry of Transportation
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Good afternoon, everyone. We’re going to resume consideration of vote 2701 of the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation. There is a total of four hours and 50 minutes remaining.
Before we resume consideration of the estimates, if there are any inquiries from the previous meeting that the minister has responses to, perhaps the information can be distributed by the Clerk. Are there any items, Minister?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Yes, there were a number of questions that were posed where follow-ups were requested. The department and I are prepared to address some of those outstanding items if the committee would like that.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Do you have written documentation you can give us so that we can circulate it to committee members?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: One of them was on the Metrolinx plan—sorry, on the regional transportation plan for last year—
Ms. Shelley Tapp: Metrolinx’s business plan.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: —Metrolinx’s business plan, and whether we would make that available. We’re happy to make that available if the members would like. It was produced by the previous government and it wasn’t published, I understand, because it might have gotten caught up during the caretaker period. So it doesn’t reflect this government’s plan, but we’re happy to make that available if the members would like.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m assuming it was asked for and you committed to provide it—
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I said we would check in to see if we could provide it, so we did, and we’re happy to do that. I don’t know, Deputy, if you want to speak to that.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. Do you have copies for us to distribute today?
Ms. Shelley Tapp: No, but we can bring them on Tuesday.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. That would be fine.
Are there any other responses that you have written material for that we can distribute to the committee?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I don’t have more written material at this time, but I have some responses to the questions with respect to winter highway maintenance. MPP French said she would receive that information on behalf of MPP Bourgouin, who couldn’t be here today.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. Hold that for the moment and come back to it.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Just for clarification, Mr. Bourgouin had requested a few specific things. I don’t remember offhand what the specifics were. I said I will be here and that I’m happy to collect them. So I won’t be using my question time to address his issues, but I’m happy to collect the answers.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Right. Okay. So we’d like those in writing, please. If they could be supplied at the same time as the other document and then circulated to all members of the committee, that would be great.
When the committee last adjourned, the government had four minutes and 35 seconds remaining in their rotation. Mr. Thanigasalam.
Mr. Vijay Thanigasalam: Thank you, Chair. Hello, Minister. I want to pick up where I left off yesterday. We were talking about the Scarborough subway extension, and I believe you were telling the committee why this three-stop extension is the right decision for Scarborough commuters. I want to also highlight the fact that this great news for the residents of Scarborough came after over three decades, Minister. So this is exciting news for the people of Scarborough.
As I mentioned as I began yesterday, I grew up in Scarborough. I went to school and I worked there. I personally know how positively this news is impacting them. People were eagerly waiting for this kind of news for decades, and finally it’s here. So again I want to emphasize the question: Why is the three-stop extension the right decision for Scarborough commuters, Minister?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Well, thank you for the question and thank you for all the work that you’ve been doing on behalf of the residents of Scarborough, advocating for more transit for the residents of Scarborough. We believe that the residents of Scarborough deserve the same level of transit as transit riders in other parts of the GTA. A one-stop subway obviously provides a third less transit than a three-stop Scarborough subway extension, so that’s why we brought forward this plan that we were happy to see was supported by Toronto city council.
Our plan for the three stops would see three stations: one at Lawrence East, one at Scarborough Town Centre station and one at McCowan station. In addition, a new terminus at McCowan and Sheppard will permit a future Sheppard subway east extension to serve more riders in Scarborough and to better integrate with existing subway assets. We think it is, as I said, essential that Scarborough—which is, as you know, an area that’s growing rapidly—has the same level of transit when we make those plans today to plan for the growth of tomorrow.
Mr. Vijay Thanigasalam: That’s great news for the people of Scarborough, Minister. I want to ask since, again, in this committee it’s appropriate to ask, the benefits that these extra two stops would bring compared to the city of Toronto’s previous one-stop plan. What are the benefits it’s going to bring to the people of Scarborough?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Well, for transit riders it means that they’ll have more stations where they can get on the subway, which means less walking. It’s more convenient for transit riders. So there are those obvious benefits to people who are seeking to access transit, but there are also economic benefits that will accrue around those stations and those station locations. It will bring people to the area and allow people in the area to seek opportunities outside. So it obviously, I think, will be of tremendous economic benefit to businesses along the line and to residents across Scarborough.
Mr. Vijay Thanigasalam: All right. Great. Thank you for that answer, Minister.
In terms of the map of this three-stop subway, what exactly would this three-stop subway look like for the people of Scarborough?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You have one minute left.
Mr. Vijay Thanigasalam: Again, where would these stops be and what are these stops connecting with the higher-order transit? Is there any connection to the community hubs in any of these three stops? I want to know mainly higher-order transit and the community hubs that these three stops would be connecting.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Well, as I said, in terms of what it will look like, there will be three subway stops—at Lawrence East station, Scarborough Town Centre station and McCowan station—and a new hub. There will be a new terminus at at McCowan and Sheppard, which will allow for the creation of a hub when we have a future Sheppard subway east extension. That will allow us to serve more riders in Scarborough and to better integrate with existing subway assets.
Mr. Vijay Thanigasalam: Thank you, Minister. I used McCowan and Sheppard and Scarborough Town Centre—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say you’re out of time.
We go to the official opposition. Ms. French.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Good afternoon, Minister. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to ask a number of questions. I’ve got a few that are kind of general across the province, but I do have a number of specific community questions I’m looking forward to asking—not just for my own community, but for many communities that are wondering about some of the details.
I’d like to start off with asking about the southern highways program document and the northern highways program document. These five-year plans are supposed to be updated and published every year, but the most recent one that we have access to is the 2017-21, and there has been nothing since. We don’t know if there were programs in the pipeline in 2017 that have been put into that updated pipeline, so to speak. We know that updated spending plans are important, and we would like to know why the government hasn’t published a northern or southern highways program document in two years.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Since we’ve been in office, we’ve been very clear about our desire to invest in infrastructure, including highway infrastructure—to expand the infrastructure we have and to repair existing infrastructure. In our budget, we outlined our priorities in terms of what our plans are for infrastructure—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Those are the big picture plans, which I respect and appreciate, but the five-year plans drill down and give us details that municipalities and folks are able to refer to and know that their project is indeed still happening. So if there isn’t a “why it wasn’t published”—does it exist but it just hasn’t been publicized?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We’ve publicized a number of highway infrastructure investments—we attended one together: the widening of Highway 3. We’ve had a number of other announcements around the projects that we’re continuing and ones that we’d like to proceed with: Highway 17, Arnprior to Renfrew, for instance. So we’ve been very upfront about our plans for highway investment—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I want the specifics, though. If the shovels were supposed to go in the ground in 2021, as per the last document that people have, the 2017-21—those are the last specifics available. If shovels were supposed to go in the ground in 2021, how can a community—are they left to assume that that project will continue? We don’t have those specifics. So what I would ask is, if there is a five-year plan, either a renamed version or an existing version of the southern highways program or northern highways program document, would your ministry be willing to provide the committee with those figures: the 2018-22 or 2019-23 northern and southern highways program documents?
Ms. Shelley Tapp: Shelley Tapp, Deputy Minister of Transportation.
As part of our annual multi-year planning process, which the government goes through every year, we have a capital allocation and a budget that is put forward and is in approval stages right now for the coming year—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Will that replace or is that going to be comparable to what we have seen in many years past with those five-year detailed plans? Will there be a document that rivals that or compares with that? Can we have that?
Ms. Shelley Tapp: I’m going to hand it over to Teepu.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Welcome. Please introduce yourself and proceed.
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Perfect. My name is Teepu Khawja; I’m assistant deputy minister for the highways division at MTO.
To your question, the SHP and NHP—I’ll just use the acronyms—have existed for the last several years. It’s not a statutory requirement. It’s just the way that the previous government had decided upon presenting—you know, a public-facing document.
As the deputy minister referred to, within the ministry we have a rolling 10-year capital plan comprised of a number of factors: rehabilitation jobs, expansion projects etc.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: But that’s internal. That isn’t, as you said, a public-facing document. Is there something that you can rebrand, that you can name, that isn’t a Liberal document, which would give our communities the same information on a five-year schedule so that we have that spending plan?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Right. I would say that in terms of our 10-year capital plan, we have a pretty good sense in terms of what projects are comprised in it. The minister herself, in terms of expansion, has identified some of them. In the budget, there was the $22 billion over 10 years, north and south. So that information is available.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Internally?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Internally.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Is that publicly? Because when you say “we” have a good idea, we, the outside communities, do not.
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Right. I would say that external to the OPS in terms of communities, we interact regularly with their transportation staff. The general public does not necessarily know. A lot of the projects are ongoing projects as opposed to new ones. If a product—a replacement product, rebranded, a different cycle—is to be presented, I think that’s something where we would present options to the government to make that decision to go forward, but then the—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay, so—
Mr. Teepu Khawja: —are available.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Thank you. I am glad to have a bit of clarity in terms of the inner workings. But this is why it’s important that I have the opportunity to ask questions about specific communities that have no idea whether their projects will get to continue. It is a cross-their-fingers at this point, or rumours or conjecture or hope. I’m going to ask many questions that are specific to communities as we get through this.
So there is no comparable document that is public-facing to replace the southern highways program or northern highways program documents. Is that correct?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We have been public-facing in terms of priorities that we’ve set forth in our fall economic statement, in our budget, through the contractor bulletins—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: But that’s still high-level—
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: —which are specific to projects in various communities across the province. MTO works with people on the ground in those communities to let them know the status of projects.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: But there will not be documents such that a community can turn a page and find themselves in the next five years, or the continuity—okay.
I think I’m clear on my answer: You’re not continuing with the southern highways program or northern highways program document as it stood, which I hear, but there isn’t a replacement document for public—
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We have a southern highways program and a northern highways program. The document itself, in terms of how it moves forward, is one that we’re currently working on. But we certainly have a southern highways program that is laid out in various—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: So if that does exist, can the committee have access to that report, then? If that does indeed exist.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I’m saying that there’s a program of spending on projects that are under way, like the ones that I have mentioned so far, that are in our fall economic statement, in our budget, that have been identified—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: The breakdown of those projects: Can this committee have a copy of that?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Sorry, one of you at a time.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I’m saying there’s a program. The member’s asking for a specific document. I’m saying the program exists, and information about it can be found in different sources of documents, like the fall economic statement—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. Thank you, Minister. I am clear on that answer.
I’m going to go to a local issue, with the 412 and the 418 toll-way. Communities initially had not been expecting that the 412 highway would be a toll road. It’s the only north-south connector road from the 401 to the 407 that has tolls.
Residents anecdotally have shared with us that they feel it is a targeted toll, which may predate this government, but it feels like it is a very unfair issue for the residents and visitors of Durham region.
Because of the tolls, I certainly have heard—and there’s a significant grassroots movement that wants to see the 412 freed of the tolls. My Bill 43 has asked to remove those tolls. It certainly was a vocalized priority, heading into the 2018 election.
I would like to know if the minister will support either my Bill 43 or the spirit of that legislation and remove the tolls from the 412 and keep them off the 418?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I think the member is certainly right in talking about a grassroots movement. Since my appointment in June it’s one of the issues that I have heard the most about. We have four members of our caucus from the Durham region who have been excellent advocates for their constituents, making sure that the ministry is apprised of residents’ and drivers’ concerns about this issue.
As you know, those toll increases were cemented into the Liberal plan to build these two highways—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Right, but are they coming off?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: —for the next 25 years.
We are looking into options about how to move forward. I have directed, as a result of the work that I’ve done with my caucus members from Durham, to undertake a study to assess the economic impacts of those tolls, which will then inform next steps.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. I am aware of that. I had certainly heard reports of that. If you want to save time, you’re welcome to come and sit with me at the side of the road and count the cars on one hand and get a sense of the need and the revenue. I would argue that the revenue wouldn’t support the situation and the congestion, but hopefully you’ll have the numbers that come from that.
I was wondering if the minister could provide, though, the breakdown of the tolls from the 412, versus the tolls and the revenue collected from the 407 east, if we could ask for that breakdown?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: We have—for the 407?
Ms. Jennifer K. French: The 412.
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Yes, versus the 407.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Yes, the 412 specifically, if there is revenue. Obviously you’re looking at that for your task force, but can the committee have that—
Mr. Teepu Khawja: I don’t have that information readily available here, but we can provide that.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Will you provide that to this committee?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Yes.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Thank you. A quick question connected to that: The future 412 in Caledon, will that be a tolled highway as well?
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Did I say 412? The 413; I apologize. The 412 is local, so it’s in my brain. The future 413 in Caledon, will it also be a tolled highway?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Our government’s been focused on affordability and making sure that we allow people to keep as much money in their pockets as possible.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Has that decision been made?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: As I said, we’re undertaking a study on tolling with respect to these highways, which I think will inform the—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I just wondered if it was—
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: No, no decisions have been made.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. No, that’s fine. It was sort of a concern that had been brought to my office. I just wasn’t sure. Thank you.
In terms of cycling infrastructure, last year the government budgeted $41 million for cycling infrastructure. It spent zero, and now the government has cancelled the cycling infrastructure program altogether. How does the government expect to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector if it won’t fund zero-carbon transportation options like cycling?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I’ll turn it over to John.
Mr. John Lieou: Sorry, I didn’t quite hear the MPP’s question.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Before you proceed further—
Mr. John Lieou: I’m John Lieou. I’m the assistant deputy minister of the policy and planning division at the MTO.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you, and welcome back.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: My question was about cycling infrastructure. You had budgeted $41 million, you didn’t spend anything, and it’s been cancelled. We know that. We understand that, but what I don’t understand is how the government is going to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector if it’s not funding zero-carbon transportation options like cycling.
Mr. John Lieou: Can I seek a point of clarification on your question? You mentioned $41 million. Are you referring to the funding that was provided under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account, the GGRA, that came from the cap-and-trade program? Because there was such a program under the last government—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Yes, and we know that obligations were met and it doesn’t exist anymore.
Mr. John Lieou: The point I want to make is that over $90 million, actually, was provided to various municipalities—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Yes, but I’m asking about the fact that there is zero now going toward cycling infrastructure programs. I’m asking, how does that help reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector if we’re not funding programs like that going forward?
Mr. John Lieou: I think that’s a question probably that’s more relevant for the minister that has carriage of the environmental plan, I think—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Well, I don’t. We’re talking about infrastructure and cycling infrastructure.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Well, John can speak to cycling infrastructure. With respect to MTO’s approach to the environment, I think that our transit plan, which is incredibly ambitious, will go a very long way to reducing GHG emissions as a result of removing cars off the road and trying to get more people to use transit. We have our four new subway lines that we have announced. We also have other LRT projects that are ongoing across this region and across the province. So there are a number of, I think, pretty ambitious policies that we’ve announced that will go a long way to reducing our carbon footprint.
With respect to cycling infrastructure, I’ll let John speak to it.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay—
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Excuse me, Chair. Committee members, I’d like to request a 20-minute recess so that I can go to the House to speak to the NDP opposition day motion, and I will return once I’ve spoken to that and continue the estimates process.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Is it the will of the committee that that recess be granted? Agreed. Thank you, Minister.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): We are recessed.
The committee recessed from 1627 to 1652.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): We’re back in session. Ms. French.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I’m going to start somewhere new, but I would like to know how many minutes past the requested recess did we just—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): About five minutes.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Thank you. My question is local but affects folks across Durham region when it comes to the GO train expansion to Bowmanville. I have a number of questions that I’m just going to throw all into one.
People don’t really have faith that the train will come because, as you know well, there have been many announcements and ribbon-cuttings and commitments and all of that, and while I recognize that that was before your time, that sets the stage for how the community feels about this particular project. The folks of Bowmanville and certainly across Durham region have been long-suffering on this issue and would like to move forward and—pun intended—get GO-ing on this. So I’d like to know if this is a project that is continuing and when, if the Premier and the minister want to support one option over another, as have been put forward and are being looked at by Metrolinx—and I know the municipalities are meeting with the government and are trying to make their case for the best option for the community. There have been municipalities and businesses, homeowners, tenants, people who have a vested interest in the outcome. If the Premier or the minister want to support one option over another that you could steer this project, Metrolinx will look to you for that direction. So I’m wondering which option this minister supports and why, and if Metrolinx will approve the route that is preferred by the local officials and the community—recognizes option one—and when the route will be selected.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: First and foremost, expanding GO service to Bowmanville is a priority for the people of Durham, and so it’s a priority for our government. Metrolinx is working with municipalities and with the region on assessing the different options. As you pointed out, some of the issues are ones that we have inherited, but Metrolinx is working very closely with the region and with municipalities to assess the different options. We’re not in a position at this point to state which option is preferred, but I can tell you that there’s a lot of work between MTO, Metrolinx and the local and regional representatives on this topic.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Assuming that that work continues, in terms of timelines, can you confirm that there will be a shovel in the ground before the end of 2021?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I can’t speak to a specific timeline, but I can say, as I’ve stated, that it is a priority for our government. I can tell you again, the members from Durham in our caucus have been strong advocates for expanding GO rail to Bowmanville, and so we are working closely with the region and the municipalities to determine the right option.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: But there isn’t a timeline—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): One minute left.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: —before the next provincial election, that there would be a shovel in the ground of some description, moving forward.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We will be moving forward. I don’t have a specific date at this time, but as I said, it is a priority to be moving forward and to provide that service to residents along the line—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Thank you. I’m clear on that part. Is the construction of the Bowmanville GO extension included in the government’s five-year transit plan? What is the budget for this project?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: As I said, Metrolinx is working closely with the region and the municipality to determine the options. When an option is assessed and then the budget and the costs associated with that, we’ll be able to move forward with that, but we’re still assessing the different options that have been put on the table.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. Well, I think I’m out of time; I wouldn’t say “okay” but darn.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You are. You came just under the wire.
We go then to the government. Mr. Cho.
Mr. Stan Cho: Thank you, Minister, for being here today. I, first off, want to start by saying congratulations. To get endorsement from all three levels of government on your four priority subway projects—I think that’s a monumentous moment for the people of Ontario and certainly the greater Toronto area.
Chair, I ask for a bit of indulgence while I talk about my riding a little bit. I’m asking for some latitude—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): It is the government’s time, sir.
Mr. Stan Cho: Thank you. I appreciate that. I do find it necessary to talk about the best riding in the world for a little bit—of course, Willowdale.
Interjection: Easy, easy.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You’re losing it.
Mr. Stan Cho: Thank you, Chair. I appreciate that; warning well received.
Willowdale is a unique riding in that it is the only neighbourhood I can think of, that I know of in the world, that has two subway lines that currently dead-end in the riding. This is a neighbourhood that has hit its provincial growth targets for 2041. This is a neighbourhood that has many challenges because of that growth, not least of which is the transit situation. I know from knocking on doors that many of my constituents who work downtown have been forced to take the subway one or two stops north to Finch just to get—not a seat—a spot on a southbound train. This has been the situation for decades and the entire time I’ve grown up in the neighbourhood. Frankly, my constituents are frustrated with that situation. So this announcement on the endorsement of the four priority projects is very, very well received.
Minister, I have some questions, of course, about the Yonge North extension. While it’s great that we’re getting the subway extension, the Eglinton West extension and of course the Ontario Line, my residents are very curious as to how this Yonge North extension is going to be rolled out. They would like some specifics. Maybe you can elaborate and tell us what’s in store for commuters in my riding now that all three levels of government have endorsed your plan. Let’s start high-level. Maybe you can shed some light on what is planned for the people of Willowdale.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I’d be very happy to. I’ve spent some time with you in your riding, so I know about the explosive growth and what a vibrant community it is. I’m thrilled to hear how well this news was received by the residents of Willowdale. I can also tell you that in my riding, because I represent a riding that includes York region, news of the Yonge North subway extension was also very well received. That’s why, as the Minister of Transportation for the province of Ontario, I think that these four priority subway projects that we’ve announced are so important, because they really will create a truly regional transit network that will bring people from Toronto north and east and west as well. It really creates a truly regional transit network.
The Yonge North subway extension, which as I said is very popular in York region, will be a 7.4-kilometre-long line and will include several new stations from Finch, as you mentioned, to Highway 7, connecting Toronto to Richmond Hill. This will add a significant amount of potential new transit users to the existing subway line, and it will make it easier for commuters to connect to the subway line on their existing bus routes.
I’m happy to talk in more detail, if you have more questions, about this line, but I can tell you as someone who represents—part of my riding includes York region, and 50% of the people in York region travel outside of York region to work. Given the population growth that we’re expecting across York region, this is a much-needed piece of transit infrastructure that’s going to provide transit options for the people who live in York region and also relieve capacity on the existing lines.
Mr. Stan Cho: Thank you for that, Minister.
I’m glad you brought up York region. Of course, the average family that’s just working and making a living doesn’t think in terms of riding boundaries; these are neighbourhoods. In my neighbourhood in North York, we love our neighbours to the north in York region. When you go north of Steeles, that is York region. But there have been some challenges, and those challenges relate to transit.
It’s very common today: If you go to Finch station, you will see that many of the commuters are parking in the local parking lots, in the office buildings, on the side streets. It’s a real problem, because many from York region recognize that the traffic situation to get downtown is not very good. For anybody who has driven down the Don Valley Parkway in the morning, you know they call it the Don Valley parking lot for a reason. So it’s very common for York region commuters to park in and around Finch station and then take that line south, which is why we have such challenges with overcrowding on the subway system. York region has to be very much part of this conversation about how we alleviate that congestion.
Minister, is this 7.4-kilometre extension going to connect to other transit routes? As we know, the most successful transit situations around the world, when you look at other metropolitan areas of comparable size to the greater Toronto area, look like a spiderweb. I can point to many cities that are just like this—New York City, Seoul, Paris. Of course, these cities have other challenges, but they are certainly well beyond the routes that we have today in our TTC system. So I’m wondering if you or your deputy or the ADM could tell us: Is this 7.4-kilometre extension going to link to other transit routes?
Mr. John Lieou: I’m John Lieou. I’m the ADM for the policy and planning division at MTO.
The minister mentioned some stops. The northern stop is expected to be at Langstaff, which is in Richmond Hill. There, it would connect, specifically, with the Richmond Hill line. So the first thing I’ll say is that, absolutely, it will connect with the GO line. It would also connect with transit bus services. It will also connect with the York transit system and York vivaNext—and you see the construction going on around Centre Street and so on. So this line is going to be very critical in connecting with the GO line, with GO bus, and with the York Viva system, and of course down to the Line 1 system.
To your earlier point on congestion along Line 1: The Ontario Line, which was discussed at length yesterday, will be completed before the extension comes into service, so that the relief happens before Line 1 actually brings people down from York region into Toronto.
Mr. Stan Cho: Thank you for that, ADM. I was going to ask you about the timelines on that. That’s one of the major concerns in Willowdale, as well. It’s all fine and dandy that we’re getting the Yonge North extension, but the priority for a very long time has been a relief route, of course, to downtown Toronto. So I’m very happy to hear you talk about the Ontario Line being completed first—that’s to say, I hope it’s not completed and then the Yonge line is too far down the road, because this is very much something that is welcome in my neighbourhood.
I’m wondering if you could expand on some of the timelines when it comes to the Yonge North expansion. Just so everybody understands, in Willowdale this is literally the issue that still comes up for me at the door every single day.
I want to tell you, Minister, that your announcement was very well received. You are a hero in Willowdale. We would love to have you come by and knock on some doors with me. We really appreciate what you’ve done.
Can we shed some more light on when the timelines for the Yonge North expansion might be?
Mr. John Lieou: The plan is for the Yonge North extension line to follow very closely on the heels of the Ontario Line. The plan for the Ontario Line is for that to come into service in 2027 and for the Yonge North extension line to come into service in 2029-30. So it’s very closely on the heels of that.
Mr. Stan Cho: Wonderful. Just to continue along the lines of some of the timelines, the other issue that I’ve heard in Willowdale is that—so for those who might not understand that area, when I say that two subway lines dead-end in Willowdale, I’m of course talking about the fact that Line 1 stops at Finch station, but I also have Line 4, which runs from Fairview Mall until Sheppard and then dead-ends at Yonge and Sheppard. These two points are a topic of discussion in Willowdale.
I know I’ve heard criticism in the past about the ridership levels of Line 4, but if you were to ride that subway line you would see very quickly that it is a very short amount of track; it goes from Fairview Mall until Sheppard. So we’re not fully unleashing the potential of the ridership of this line. Certainly from Willowdale, because it ends at Fairview, we’ve not been able to access the eastern part of our city. My colleague here, MPP Thanigasalam, would appreciate that Scarborough is a great part of our Toronto community. Willowdalers have family there; Willowdalers would like to shop out there.
So I’m wondering if you could speak, ADM or Deputy or Minister, to some of the timelines when it comes in relation to the Scarborough extension east as well, because Willowdalers are very interested in not just getting south and north but in getting east.
Mr. John Lieou: The plan is for the Scarborough subway extension to be completed in 2029-30 as well, so the same timeline as the Line 1 extension north.
You pointed out a really important point which the minister touched on earlier when she spoke about Scarborough, which is why this government’s subway plan is for the three-stop Scarborough subway extension, not the one-stop one. A three-stop subway plan takes the line past Scarborough Town Centre up to Sheppard, which is the McCowan station that the minister talked about, which is planned for the extension. That then provides the ability for these two points to eventually be connected, which is the Fairview Mall station that you talked about. That’s the Sheppard loop that the government has been talking about, which is actually mentioned in the budget. That would allow Metrolinx to start exploratory thinking and exploratory work to think about how, in the future, the two points could be connected. The end point of the three-stop Scarborough subway extension and the Line 4, which goes to Fairview Mall right now, could eventually be connected as well by subway.
Mr. Stan Cho: Okay. Fantastic to hear.
I mentioned in my opening, Chair, that Willowdale has hit its growth targets for 2041. This has presented immense challenges. In the scope of today’s discussion, this pressure on our transit system in Willowdale is—it’s long overdue that we’re addressing this situation.
When you go north from Finch, there are pockets of development with condos that are begging for an extension north. I’m talking about, going north from Finch, there’s Cummer and there is—I want to say a 1,500-unit new development project coming in the next four years; I’m referencing M2M. There is zoning approved on the west side of that site for another 600 residential units. And this is continuing; this is going all the way up Yonge Street to Steeles. Just north of Steeles, in York region, there are, that I am aware of, over 1,000 condo units within a very small radius. And this is the story all the way up Yonge Street.
I’m wondering if you could talk about where or how you might be going about consulting on where the subway locations might be planned for or if there’s any way that my residents of Willowdale can get their opinions across. Could you talk about, maybe, where these stops might be along Yonge Street?
Mr. John Lieou: Sure. On Finch northward, the first one being planned for is at Cummer, which you mentioned, MPP. The next one would be Steeles, around Centerpoint Mall and so on. Further up will be Clark. There’s a lot of high-density residential there, and there’s also commercial space galore around that whole area. North would be Richmond Hill Centre and Langstaff.
Mr. Stan Cho: Richmond Hill and Langstaff. Okay.
Mr. John Lieou: Yes. And then in terms of the plan to move forward on this, basically, the TTC has done preliminary work on the subway extension. Since the Legislature passed the statute that allows the government to take over the expansion program, we, through Metrolinx, have taken over the work that the TTC has done. We’re now taking the next step, and we’re developing the business case for the line. Eventually, when we have more information, we will provide that to the public and then there will be discussions. Of course, we and Metrolinx will work closely with the municipalities—Vaughan, Markham, Richmond Hill—that are affected, and work closely with the regional government as well in York region.
Mr. Stan Cho: Thank you for that, ADM. Some of the other concerns—sorry, Chair; time check? I don’t want to run over.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You have five minutes.
Mr. Stan Cho: Okay. When it comes to other concerns that Willowdalers voiced to me, they revolve around disruption and cost. We’ve seen projects in the past go over budget and go over time. I’m wondering if you could talk about some of the costs that will be associated with this project and what I can report back to my constituents about that.
Mr. John Lieou: Yes. When the TTC was doing this work, it had a publicly disclosed expected cost of $5.6 billion. That was the capital cost forecast. Since we have taken over through Metrolinx, Metrolinx is now going through the business planning work, which includes value engineering and so on, to make sure that we stay within the capital estimate and are yet providing the value. That’s why it’s called value engineering. It’s going through that work right now. We don’t have the result of that work because the upload was done recently. We’ll do the work as fast as we can.
Mr. Stan Cho: Wonderful, ADM. I’m wondering, too, if you can tell me how you plan on consulting with Metrolinx, a very important partner in this development, or other levels of government. Specifically, I would like to talk about how we are going to make sure that we are using the best use of technology, perhaps about future-proofing future technologies, about some of the challenges that we’ve had in the past with delays and business disruptions. If there is any light you can shed on how those consultations will go—because I think it’s important that we learn from some of the mistakes of the past. Being an optimist, I think we should use those mistakes to look forward and make sure we don’t repeat them, for better outcomes for the people of not just Willowdale but this entire province.
Mr. John Lieou: For sure. For that, I’ll draw a parallel to how we’ve worked with Toronto. With Toronto, we have set up a steering table. The deputy minister; Mike Lindsay, the special adviser to the minister; and I are at that table. We work closely with very senior officials at the city of Toronto. The minister herself is very engaged at the leadership level with the mayor and so on.
That’s the model that led to this new partnership that we have with Toronto. It has yielded really good results. We are actually going to follow that same model with York region and all of the municipalities. We’re going to set up a similar steering group where senior officials from MTO and special adviser Mike Lindsay will work with senior officials within York region and with York municipalities and so on. That governance will also involve, where appropriate, YRRTC, Metrolinx, IO and so on. Then the local officials within York region and the York municipalities will bring in whatever they feel they need to work with us. There is a whole governance that is led by the steering group, and then there are multiple workgroups within that.
To your point, MPP, we’ll make sure that we are working in close co-operation with people who know the needs of the region best, which is exactly what we’ve done in Toronto which resulted in this partnership.
Mr. Stan Cho: That’s really great to hear. I will say—
Mr. Stan Cho: Oh, sorry, Deputy.
Ms. Shelley Tapp: I’ll just add to that. That framework, as John has said, has been really successful for us, and we’ve already had preliminary meetings with the region of York.
The other part to your answer about technology and process: Metrolinx is starting the planning and design phase, and part of that is doing all of the different geo-technical assessments—what are the environmental impacts of the proposed line? I would say that the expertise of Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario to guide us through that process—they’re key partners in this journey as well.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): One minute left.
Mr. Stan Cho: Thank you for that, Deputy. I will say this: I grew up in this neighbourhood for most of my life. I’ve had relatives visit from out of town, who look at our subway map and think it’s a typo: “Where’s the rest of it?” It has been a point of frustration and, dare I say, embarrassment, because I’m born and raised in Toronto and very proud of this city. I think we need a world-class transit system. I’m glad that this is on the way—better late than never. So my final question, very quickly, is, when do you think I’d be able to buy my hard hat so I can join you when you’re breaking ground?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Well, I’m not sure. I could loan you a hard hat.
Mr. Stan Cho: Okay, then I’ll take that. It might not fit, but—
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Obviously, people have been waiting for transit infrastructure to be built in this city. People who are new to Toronto hear so much about it. Obviously a vibrant, growing city needs to have it.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): With that, Minister, I’m sorry to say that your time is up.
We’ll go to the official opposition. Ms. French.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Let’s talk a little bit about a GO bus route, specifically route 81. In June, Metrolinx announced that it was cutting five GO bus routes and slashing service on two other routes, including route 81, which provides bus service for Scugog residents travelling to Toronto. In October, Scugog councillors had said that this route provides an essential service and they want the route restored. My question is, will you restore it?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: John.
Mr. John Lieou: I’m just aware that Metrolinx is actually working closely with the local municipality to—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say this, but if you will introduce yourself again.
Mr. John Lieou: John Lieou, ADM at the policy and planning division of MTO.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Will you restore it?
Mr. John Lieou: The only thing that I can disclose or tell you is that I know that Metrolinx is working with the municipality to make sure there is some coverage, in whatever way, of the route.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. Is this a matter of cost?
Mr. John Lieou: Basically, it’s a ridership—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Right. But when the council and the municipality is calling it an essential service and they’re saying that it is something that is needed, does this come down to cost? Because then my next question is, if there’s almost $200 million or whatever it was, $184 million, and Metrolinx is essentially saying, “Never mind. We don’t need it,” then how come people in Scugog can’t have a bus? Couldn’t that money be spent on communities like this and on bus routes like this and on investing in communities like this?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I don’t have the details on that specific route, but I can say that Metrolinx works closely with municipalities and is doing a lot of work about assessing all of its routes across the province to make sure that taxpayers are getting value for the services they are providing, but at the same time wanting to make sure that riders are not left in the lurch. So I can say that Metrolinx does work closely with municipalities before any decisions are made. Local MPPs bring forward their concerns or the concerns of their residents so that we can make sure that—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: At this time, though, it’s ongoing and there are no plans to restore it? As of today, there are no plans to restore it?
Mr. John Lieou: Not that I’m aware of.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. So I’ll move on to a community priority for the folks in Essex, phase 3 of the twinning of Highway 3. I think everyone in Ontario is aware of Highway 3 or has heard of it. But that stretch of highway has been the cause of many severe motor vehicle accidents. It is a vital corridor for economic development. It serves the largest greenhouse-vegetable-growing region in Ontario, which requires that direct link to the border. It has been promised for years. We know that it’s a safety issue.
Minister, obviously, as you had mentioned before, I happened to be there when you made an announcement, and travelled the roads with the MPP for Essex and saw it for myself. At that press conference, I know that there were folks there who had specific questions about the funding and about timelines. Folks weren’t super excited about resurfacing; they wanted the road expanded. So if the minister will please provide details on the funding, when the twinning will begin and when it is anticipated it will be completed—all of those pieces, please.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I just want to comment on what you said at the top of your question, that people across the province know about Highway 3. Obviously, it’s just tragic that it’s known for the wrong reasons, which is why we are committed to widening Highway 3 from two to four lanes between the town of Essex and Leamington.
Given the sad history of this highway, we are working to expedite the project. Work will begin initially through the town of Essex and then progress toward Leamington. You asked about timing. The timing of the construction is dependent on the completion of design, engineering, environmental work and purchasing of property, but it is expected to begin in 2021.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. This government, though, changed the scope of the remaining phase of that phase 3 by not committing to twin the highway all the way to Leamington. I think folks there would like to know why you changed the scope of the project when the approvals, to my understanding, were already done.
While you’re making your way up here, I would add this: When will we see the allocation of funding?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): If you’d introduce yourself.
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Yes. My name’s Teepu Khawja. I’m assistant deputy minister, provincial highways management division, MTO.
To your point, and repeating what the minister said a little bit, right now, it has been publicly announced in terms of the commitment for the widening, the two-to-four-laning. It’s currently envisioned as two contracts. The current one, that the minister alluded to, starting from the town of Essex easterly, is under property acquisition and utility relocation. The second phase is currently updating the EA, known as the TESR update, and that’s anticipated to be completed and ready in 2022.
My understanding is, there has been no adjustment to that EA or that planning study that would truncate it. This is the EA that had already been under way previously.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. So, if there isn’t new work that is required, then why was the scope of that final phase—why are you no longer committing to twinning it all the way to Leamington?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: I am not aware of a previous commitment to go all the way to Leamington. The study limits themselves have not been adjusted. The previous study is from 2006. So, considering how many years ago it was, we’re going through the update itself right now.
In terms of the capital commitment to it, I think it has been—as I said previously, we have a 10-year capital plan, and the government has announced its commitment to the Highway 3 four-lane widening.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: So it’s in your non-public-facing 10-year plan. But my question is, when will we see the allocation of funding? When can the public see that, see the specifics of when funding will start, when things will continue to—when can the folks who live there actually have proof that this is going to happen?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: As the minister said beforehand, right now, we’re undertaking completing the property acquisition and the utility relocation, so associated works are occurring. The intent is to proceed in 2021.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Is that when the funding will start to flow? When will we see the allocation of funding?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: I would say that for us to be able to acquire property and do utility relocations, it requires capital funding, so we are proceeding with those works.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. Thank you. I’ll move on to London and the Tilbury area—the Highway 401 widening. When will shovels be in the ground for the widening of Highway 401 from London to Tilbury? Is the funding confirmed? Will there be safety barriers, as the Premier promised? What does that look like? What can folks expect?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Between Tilbury and London, the government, in terms of its budget, did commit to the widening, and it was recently announced in terms of 31 kilometres. A portion of that is about 20 kilometres westerly from the London end, and the other 11 kilometres is easterly from the Tilbury end. So in terms of the widening, that has been publicly announced.
It would include concrete medians, which would be extensions of the current concrete medians that are on either side of them. In the meantime, there’s an interim plan with the remainder, in terms of the corridor in between, to be installing high-tension cable median barriers. About 76% of that has already been completed along that corridor. By the end of fall next year—2020—it should be closer to 90% out of 100% completed, with that interim measure by 2022.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: So by next fall, you said 80% to 90% done—for the interim measure?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: For the interim measure, in terms of between those two limits.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. Yes, because the folks in that community are very active. I’m sure that the ministry is well aware that folks want safety barriers so that that stretch of road is safe.
When will the barriers be completed on that stretch of roadway?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Are we referring to the concrete in terms of the 31-kilometre highway—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: You can answer it however you want to. If you want to give me the completed answer, I missed it, I’m sorry, with the 100% of the interim measure, but then, yes: full, completed barriers. So if you want to give me those two.
Mr. Teepu Khawja: So in terms of the two contracts I was referring to that would have concrete median barriers, the work is expected to begin in 2021. We’re continuing with completing the EA and associated works. But in the meantime, in between the 20 and 11 kilometres, however many kilometres that is, about 118 kilometres—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I know. Sorry, I feel like you’re saying the same thing that you did before. You said it will be 80% to 90% completed by next fall for the interim measure. When will the interim measure in that stretch be completed? I missed that. Can I have that answer?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: By fall 2022. So about 76% is completed currently with the high-tension cable barrier, about 86% will be by the fall of 2020, and the remainder by the fall of 2021.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. And the full project completed by—the widening completed, everything done by?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Right now, we haven’t actually gone out and done the procurements for those 31 kilometres. As I said, they were anticipating that they’ll be begun in 2021, and at that time, we’ll have a better sense of the schedule for the completion of those works.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. Thank you. Time, Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You have about eight minutes left.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. It’s hard to tell.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Time flies when you’re having fun. I know.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: It’s sort of how I’d word it.
Okay. As for some of our northern folks—I have one of them right here with me. On Highway 69, so Sudbury to the 400, the four-laning has been going on for about a decade. The Premier was in Sudbury in recent memory and committed to completing it. The previous transportation minister in this government was evasive about a timeline. So there are 68 kilometres that haven’t been contracted. There isn’t a clear plan for this stretch. There are ongoing fatalities; people are dying. Folks feel like the government is dawdling.
We need to know that this government is showing leadership on this stretch, so when will the entire four-laning between Sudbury and Barrie be completed? What will the evidence look like that shows you mean it this time?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Our budget 2019 confirms that we are moving ahead with the four-laning as planned. We’re in the planning and design phase. Work on the four-laning of a 14-kilometre section south of Alban and the re-alignment of the CN Rail line at Highway 522 continues. This is a $200-million investment in Highway 69—700 kilometres are complete, and the ministry is working to get the approvals needed to complete the remaining 68 kilometres of the corridor.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: The final 68 kilometres: Do you have an anticipated time when that will be completed? I realize conversations are ongoing. I would love an update on that. What specific progress have you made with Henvey Inlet or Shawanaga and Magnetawan First Nations? Have talks started? Who is involved in the talks? I’d love specifics, because everyone in this area wants something clear that they can point to and say, “This government is indeed showing leadership.”
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We’re working on getting the approvals. I’ll turn it over to Teepu for some specifics.
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Sure. So to your point, as has already been said, 70 kilometres have already been completed, 14 kilometres are on their way—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Yes. I want the 68.
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Yes, 68 kilometres: We have a number of engineering projects under way right now, which are in detailed design, which would complete the entire 68 kilometres. So we are in the design stages for those. As you had referenced, there is a number of First Nations that are involved and engaged, and we have our regional director, as well as staff from Indigenous Affairs, who have meetings with them regularly, because one of the aspects, obviously, is that the corridor will be going through reserve lands and they do have their own rights within those reserve lands. Discussions are ongoing in terms of the property and like-for-like in terms of property. So meetings are occurring and—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Meetings are occurring. If I asked you to outline who has been at the table, it’s not just a matter of saying that there’s engagement; there are actual ongoing discussions to make this happen?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Yes. My understanding is that there have been and there continue to be.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: We don’t have timelines of when it’s completed, but—again, I think the frustration is, without those public-facing documents, people are left to trust and cross their fingers. So I am glad to hear this. This is why it’s important to ask these questions. I would appeal to the ministry, beyond this issue, that with these projects—if you would rethink having a public document that actually gives the breakdown of projects, because I know that is something folks across the province got used to having and is meaningful for them, and it would go a long way.
Moving on to the ONTC, the fall economic statement suggested that the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission might be transferred to the Ministry of Transportation. The other day, in estimates, the minister raised this. Earlier in the month, the Minister of Economic Development was more definitive, saying that this is going to happen. Is this transfer a done deal, as the minister said? If the transfer takes place, does the Ministry of Transportation intend to keep the ONTC’s non-transportation services?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: The Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade has obviously been a big proponent of the north and expanding transportation options in the north, and making sure that we are managing our transportation infrastructure there properly, which is why we announced that we are going to explore the feasibility of transferring ONTC to the Ministry of Transportation from where it is currently, at the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. So our most recent announcement is that we’re exploring the feasibility of it. We want to make sure that we get it right and that we’re providing the right level of service in the right way to the north.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Assuming that after the feasibility study the transfer does indeed take place, does the Ministry of Transportation intend to keep the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission’s non-transportation services?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: As of right now, we’re conducting the study, and so no decisions have been made, until we’ve had a chance to look at the contents and the results of that study.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I hear you, but the concern of the community is, could the Station Inn hotel in Cochrane be sold? What about the remanufacturing and repair business or the freight business? Would the minister rule out any sale or shutdown of these businesses?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I know that the communities in the north have been looking forward to this kind of a transfer. They’re very excited about the possibility, which is why we are looking at it. We haven’t made any decisions about some of the specifics at this time, but I think they’re encouraged by the fact that we actually are taking steps, which they’ve been asking for for a significant amount of time.
So we are taking the steps towards looking at the feasibility of this transfer and the best way to do it for the residents of the north, to make sure that we’re delivering the right services in the right way—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: But you’re talking about transportation services. I guarantee, as you said, that every person who lives up north is very interested in that conversation and those decisions. But the non-transportation services—the Station Inn hotel in Cochrane—is this government eyeing some of those properties? What is your goal with that? Are we just talking about transportation?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: The scope of the study will be to look at the transfer of the commission to the Ministry of Transportation.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): One minute left.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: There are a lot of ancillary issues and business lines associated. They will be looked at in the scope of the study. No decisions or determinations have been made at this point, so I certainly don’t want to comment on any specifics, because we haven’t done that work at this time. But I know that—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I can appreciate that. I would flag—as I think you’ve taken my point—that the community would like to be involved in those conversations. I think that if the government can be clear on its goals, especially outside of the non-transportation services, that would be an important piece to this for the members up north.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Absolutely. There’s strong representation for the north in our caucus, so we know that this is an issue that’s incredibly important. We want to get it right, which is why we’re taking the time to conduct this feasibility study, so that the assets are transferred, if they are determined to be transferred, and that they are done so in the right way—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): And with that, Minister, I’m sorry to say, you’re out of time. We will go to the government. But could I just ask if you could bring your microphone closer to you, or you closer to the microphone, so that there’s a shorter gap? Thank you.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Chair, could I ask for a recess so we can get up to the House for votes that are approaching?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Typically, we do that when the bells ring.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Okay. Very good.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): With that, who will be putting the questions for the government? Ms. Park.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Yes, thank you.
First off, I want to thank you, Minister, and your entire team for being so approachable to discuss the transportation issues that are important to each of us in our different areas of the province that we all represent. I can only imagine the list of different projects you’re dealing with on a daily basis, and that your staff in your ministry office and the whole department are working on. I can speak from personal experience. The volume of meetings you’ve taken just on Durham riding issues—I’ve been very grateful, whether it be the GO train to Bowmanville and getting it out there, or talking about the importance to the community of looking at the tolls on the 412 and 418, or rural transportation service and what that looks like going forward in the northern part of my riding, in Scugog.
Because of the volume of meetings we’ve had on it, I’m not going to go into all of those today. But because we haven’t had anyone here asking questions about the fourth project that’s part of the top four priority projects in the GTA, I thought I might go into that for a little bit, particularly the Eglinton Crosstown west extension.
We’ve heard already about three of the four priority projects that are part of this $28.5-billion transit plan that was unveiled by the Premier earlier this year. I’d like to talk specifically about the importance of connecting communities across Eglinton Avenue. I know it’s of the utmost importance to those neighbourhoods, and the members in our caucus raised that, particularly the member from Eglinton–Lawrence. I know she’s advocating for this.
Would you be able to update the committee on what stage that project is at?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Absolutely, but first, I just wanted to comment on what you said early on. I was appointed in June, and it has been a privilege to serve in this capacity. What’s eye-opening is that I’ve had a lot more engagement with our caucus but also with other members of the Legislature. You can see how each MPP is advocating on behalf of their residents for their transportation or transit issues, and how passionate people are about providing these transportation solutions. So, it has been a great opportunity to get to know people on both sides of the House on this, and see how hard people are working on behalf of their constituents. It has been truly eye-opening and great to see.
When MPPs from one region come together, like the Durham Four, it is quite a force. I’m very happy to have the chance to sit with you and our colleagues on these issues.
With respect to Eglinton West, I had the opportunity recently to tour a part of the Pearson International Airport and really see for myself what happens there from an economic development standpoint. It’s the second-largest employment zone in Canada, and finding a way to connect people from Toronto to the GTAA area is critical for the growth and economic development potential of this region. The Eglinton West will continue work that has already been under way and provide a significant investment that will provide great transit relief and connections for people along the line.
When we get to—eventually, hopefully—a connection to Pearson International Airport, it’s going to be tremendous for the region. I think it’s actually one of the most exciting opportunities that will flow from this plan.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Excellent. And just for the benefit of the committee, because we’re not all representing ridings right around this project, maybe you can describe just for me how long this LRT line is and how many stops it’s going to have. How far does it go now? I don’t actually ride along that line—so how far it goes now and what the plan is, how many stops to add.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We’d be happy to provide that information.
Mr. John Lieou: John Lieou. I’m the ADM of the policy and planning division at MTO.
The Eglinton West extension will start where the current Crosstown project ends on the west end, which is Mount Dennis. That’s close to Black Creek, if you don’t know the area. And then, from Mount Dennis, it will go westwards. There are a number of stops being planned. As the minister said, right now the plan is to take it to Renforth, and then in the future to work with Mississauga and the airport and take it further to the airport itself.
In terms of the number of stops from Mount Dennis on, there are, I think, seven stops beyond Mount Dennis. So if you include Mount Dennis, it would be eight stops. Mount Dennis, right now, is going to be tunnelled. It’ll go to Jane, which is the next stop, and it will go back aboveground. Then at Scarlett it will go underground again. So that’s why, for a big chunk of it, it’ll be underground high-order transit, basically. Then it will go through a number of underground stations, like Royal York and Islington and so on, and then come back out around the Martin Grove area. Then it will go to the Renforth area, as the minister said.
That, essentially, is the current plan for the project. It started as a TTC plan, and we have taken over the project. The way the TTC was thinking about it was that it was all going to be aboveground, but this government decided that actually a number of those sections are very busy, and that’s why the government wanted to make a substantial portion of it a subway. We are now going through the business case work based on very much the work that the TTC started. Because of substantial portions underground, we’ll take that work and then we’ll update a business case based on that underground concept.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Excellent. Thank you for those details.
I know that a word that you hear a lot in your portfolio is “ridership,” and you’re often looking at the numbers and how big the benefits are going to be for the cost of investing in the transit project. So I was just curious, based on the analysis you’ve done so far—and I understand that the business case is ongoing: How many additional communities are expected to benefit from this, and how much additional ridership can we expect on the system if this project moves forward to completion?
Mr. John Lieou: Because the initial concept that the TTC worked with was aboveground and because we’re now making it underground—when you have an aboveground or at-grade LRT, you have many more stops, which is the case with the LRT portion of the LRT Crosstown that’s aboveground. You have many stops, and they’re close together. But when you actually do it underground as a subway, the stops are fewer and there is further distance between the stations.
So because of that, we need to update the ridership and the benefit to the communities where stations will be and so on. We’re actually doing that work right now. It’s not available. I expect that to be available in the very near future, although.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Excellent. I think the member from Willowdale was asking this when talking about the expansion planned in his area with the Yonge North line. What are some major transit routes that we can expect this will connect into?
Mr. John Lieou: Absolutely. Obviously, it will continue the westward route of the current Crosstown LRT. It will link with a number of bus routes: the 54 bus route, for example. Eventually, when we work with the airport to link it with the airport—of course, it will link up to the airport—it will also connect up with the UP Express, which is the other way to get to the airport. It will also connect with three TTC subway stations along the way and some other transit lines.
Again, all the plans that the minister has spoken about—we are working on them as a network, so that they’re not individual lines; they actually are a network. The network will connect with other existing networks: UP Express, GO, TTC bus service and so on and so forth.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Yes, I’ve had a chance to ride on the UP Express. I know the ridership continues to increase along that line. I think it’s exciting, the idea of having another major connection to the airport. I’m not sure top of mind what the time is from Union Station to Pearson on the UP Express. But just in comparison, what’s the length of time that people can expect to travel along this route to get from start to finish?
Mr. John Lieou: The current plan doesn’t take you directly to the airport. I believe that, again, we need to look at updating the business case because, as I said, it’s underground. But just a very uninformed guess might a half hour from end to end. Again, it’s uninformed at this point in time, because we need actually to wait for the business case to be completed.
Ms. Lindsey Park: I want to thank you for all your work on this project and the business case. I know how much goes into it and I know you’re always trying to take a collaborative approach with local community organizations and municipal partners and really do your best homework to create an accurate picture for the government to make decisions based on it. I want to thank you for your work on this.
Again, I think the member from Willowdale was referencing as a comparison a lot of transit that we have seen in Europe. We’ve also, I think, seen this in some American states. I assume that this is a well-tested type of transit, but I do want to ask that question for the committee: Will this mode of transit be able to handle a real Canadian winter of Toronto? I’m a hockey player, so I really like the Canadian winters, but I think that’s obviously just a consideration. It goes into the types of cars we buy in Canada, if we’re buying cars. It goes into what mode of transit we can take at certain times of year. I just wanted to get your assessment from that perspective.
Mr. John Lieou: Thank you for the question. Obviously, the underground portions will function like a very modern subway, so no issues from the natural elements from that perspective. The aboveground portions are going to be like the LRTs. There are many examples worldwide and in North America of LRTs that are actually operating in a very cold climate: for example, Minnesota. Edmonton has had an LRT since the late 1970s, for example. It’s a really well-tested technology.
But, of course, because this is going to be a new system, the signalling system and control systems will all be state-of-the-art. If we don’t have a problem with the Edmonton LRT in a very cold climate, it should not be a problem, because it is truly a technology that’s well-tested and well-used in very cold climate regions.
Ms. Lindsey Park: That’s helpful to know. As I said, I think there are lots of examples of it elsewhere, but I just wanted to make sure that that was being factored in.
Maybe I’ll just check the time, because I do have a few questions left here.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Yes. You have six minutes.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Okay. Awesome. So I can break up my questions. Excellent.
We haven’t talked dollars yet. This is one of the big four projects that have been identified as a priority, as part of that $28.5-billion transit plan. How much of that total is dedicated to this—I shouldn’t say “dedicated” because it’s not at that stage yet, but estimated for this project?
Mr. John Lieou: It’s roughly $4.7 billion. It’s in that order of magnitude.
Ms. Lindsey Park: When we say that amount, about how many years can we expect that—obviously, capital investments are released over time. About how many years can we expect that to be—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Oh, I think we’re going to be cut off here.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Your instincts are excellent.
As there is a division being called in the House, pursuant to standing order 128, I must suspend the committee meeting at this time to enable members to make their way to the chamber to vote. I’d ask that members please return promptly, as the committee meeting will resume shortly after the vote in the House. Thank you all. See you up top.
The committee recessed from 1752 to 1808.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): We’re back in session. Ms. Park had the floor. Ms. Park, it’s all yours.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Since this is the estimates committee, we tend to talk numbers and like to talk numbers. Why not? If we’re going to pick a committee to talk numbers at, this might as well be the committee.
Going back to the hard work you’re doing on the business case for the Eglinton Crosstown west extension, when you’re trying to measure what the return on investment is going to be for a transit business case—I know I mentioned some of the metrics. Obviously, you consider things like ridership and the total cost of the project. What are some of the other metrics that Metrolinx would use for a project like this?
Mr. John Lieou: There are different components of a business case—John Lieou, ADM at P and P, MTO. There’s a broader economic case. There’s a financial case, which is the finance that you mentioned. There’s a strategic case, which is, in a network, how does it connect and so on. Then there’s also a feasibility and operability component as well. All of these come together to make up the overall business case. So, aside from just pure dollars and cents, you also measure feasibility, operability and then strategic components, as in how it fits in a network, and things like that.
Ms. Lindsey Park: I want to take one of those metrics, like feasibility. I have no idea how you would measure feasibility internally. I assume that one of the things you would look at is the length of time it’s going to take to get from point A to point B. That would be part of feasibility, I would assume. But maybe you can just describe in a bit more detail what you mean when you say you’re looking at feasibility.
Mr. John Lieou: Feasibility could be, for example, would it be feasible to construct this? For example, you weigh between constructing an at-grade LRT in a very serious, very busy intersection versus tunnelling and so on. Those are the options to look at when you consider feasibility.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Now, I want to go back—the member for Willowdale was talking a lot about the gridlock problem we have. Certainly, this project is one of the important pieces to addressing that gridlock problem we have in the GTA. I must say, it also benefits my constituents out in Durham to fix that Toronto gridlock problem, because that’s part of their commute into the city, if they’re a commuter travelling into Toronto.
I know you probably can’t say exact dates at this point, but what’s the general timeline we’re looking at, ballpark, for this whole project, for getting it all the way to Pearson?
Mr. John Lieou: All the way to Pearson is probably beyond 2029-30, but to Renforth, the expectation is 2029-30. To Pearson, it’s probably beyond that, because we have to work with the airport and the city of Mississauga to basically work out how we do that.
You need to know that the GTA and the airport are also doing their own thinking on how to build a new terminal, and how to then use the new terminal to be a hub for all kinds of transit services and so on. This is a broader exercise that needs to be undertaken with the airport, so it will be probably beyond 2029-30.
Ms. Lindsey Park: Thank you. I know, looking at these timelines, it can feel like that’s a long time away, but doing the planning today is so important to get there.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): One minute.
Ms. Lindsey Park: I think it’s a bit disheartening that the planning wasn’t done before now. That’s obviously not on your shoulders or this minister’s shoulders. But, yes, the gridlock problem in the GTA can feel overwhelming.
Maybe, just to close, you could give us your perspective on just how we got here, and how we can make sure we don’t get to this kind of problem before acting and planning to fix it, in the future.
Mr. John Lieou: I think the thing to do is to do exactly what this government has done, which is to think about a program as a whole network. That’s why, when this government set out its program, it set it out entirely as a network of four lines with different connections and so on. That’s the way to do it, and not to think about this line by line. I think that’s a really important part of it.
The second part of it is to build up the right partnership to do it, and then you have to work with local municipalities to actually—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry to say, you’re out of time. Thank you, Ms. Park.
Ms. Shelley Tapp: Excuse me. I have a correction to one of the questions, MPP French, if you would like me to clarify, or I can hold it. It’s about GO bus 81.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Ms. French, the floor is yours, so if you want the information, you may.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay, thank you. I do.
This is on route 81. “Will you restore it?” was the question.
Ms. Shelley Tapp: Actually, we received a clarification that Metrolinx has restarted the service—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: In its entirety?
Ms. Shelley Tapp: —in its entirety. Well, it’s a reduced service level until the spring. They’re in conversations with the municipality for a longer-term plan, but there is service that’s happening right now.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. Thank you.
For my next question, I’m going to stick with the ONTC and our northern constituents.
Before the election, the Premier promised to restore the Northlander rail service. The Minister of Economic Development, the member from Nipissing, and the CEO of the ONTC told northern Ontarians recently that the Northlander is definitely coming back. I understand that the CEO of the ONTC told the local paper, the North Bay Nugget, that it will not look the same.
I’m interested to hear what that would mean, and what is changing. But if that is the case, if it is coming back, I’d love to know for sure that it is, and when and all of that. But why was the Northlander not mentioned in this year’s budget or fall economic statement?
Ms. Shelley Tapp: I would say that it was within the—do you need me to say who I am again? No?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): I’m sorry?
Ms. Shelley Tapp: I didn’t know if you needed me to introduce myself again.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You might as well. It has been a long day.
Ms. Shelley Tapp: Shelley Tapp, Ministry of Transportation deputy. I think, as announced in the fall economic statement, saying that we’re going to be exploring the feasibility of the transfer of the ONTC, that would all be encompassed within the—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Sorry, I’m finding it distracting. I’m trying to focus on what you’re saying.
Ms. Shelley Tapp: Your question about whether we would be continuing the train service, or whether it would be different train service, and what that will look like: We haven’t had those discussions at this point. We’re still exploring the plans to move ONTC over, and then, if and when it comes to the ministry, we would be looking at the train aspect.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. So the commitment of the Minister for Economic Development saying that it’s definitely coming back is premature because nothing is definite about whether or not it’s back on track. Because if there’s a feasibility study under way to transfer, and everyone’s talking with everyone and doing the transportation math on that, then it would seem to me that the decision has not been made, especially when we do not see it in this year’s budget or fall economic statement. Is the Northlander going to come back, yes or no, when it has been committed to by one of your ministers? Is it coming back?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We’re absolutely committed to developing transportation options in the north and looking at restoring the Northlander as part of that, and it’s part of the feasibility study work that we’re undertaking.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. So the Premier has committed, and the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade—if I said that correctly—has said publicly and in the media that it is definitely coming back. I’d like to know if it is definitely coming back. If not, then that’s alarming. But I also want to know when exactly the ONTC will return. Will it happen next year, in two years, in five years, before the next election? Is it definitely coming back, and how do we know that?
Mr. John Lieou: John Lieou, ADM at the policy and planning division of MTO.
I believe, MPP French, that the 2019-20 budget did actually commit to undertaking feasibility work to bring the Northlander back. I think it was in the budget. I cannot confirm it, but—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Yes, I’d like confirmation of that.
Mr. John Lieou: We can totally confirm that. We don’t have the budget here, but it was mentioned, I believe.
Just to let you know, we actually are doing feasibility work. To your point about when and so on, we’re not there yet. But we actually are looking at feasibility and options for that service.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. So as to when and the timelines, there’s nothing decided. When you have the Premier and one of your ministers who lives in the area say that it is definitely coming back, what I’m hearing from this ministry is that nothing is definite, that there is a commitment to a feasibility study, but there is not a commitment to returning the train to northern Ontario. Am I misunderstanding?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We’re looking at ways, through the feasibility study and that work, for how we would accomplish that objective.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. So the plan, then, of this government is to return the train? So, yes, definitely, the train is coming back, but you don’t have the timelines?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We’re still doing work around how that would occur.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. So the ministry doesn’t want to say, or isn’t going to say, yes or no definitively, when the Premier has said yes definitively.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We’ve said that it’s an objective of ours. It’s something that we want to do and we’re going to do. We’re trying to determine—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: So, “want to do and going to do”—I heard the minister say, “going to.” That’s a yes?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: —through this feasibility study, the right ways about how to accomplish that objective.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. So the people up north, then, can take it to the bank that they will indeed get the Northlander back?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We are in the process of determining the best ways to achieve that policy objective for the people of the north.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. I’m going to move on.
I won’t diminish any transportation priority, but this is not quite as well known as the Northlander. The Community Transportation Grant Program funds municipally delivered inner-city bus services, but it isn’t spending any money in 2019-20. My understanding is that it’s to help municipalities pay for inner-city bus services, which is important since Greyhound left the province. But for 2019-20, the planned spending is zero, so the $30-million renewal of the program announced earlier this year, I guess, will start in the next fiscal year. I’d like to know where the money is, what happened to the money and how municipalities made up the shortfall.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: You’re correct: It’s a program that provides funding to municipalities to work with community partners to provide more rides to more people to more destinations. Municipalities use this provincial funding to partner with community organizations to coordinate local transportation services.
At the beginning of the year, we announced the recipients of the Ontario Community Transportation Grant Program. That program will operate over five years and it will provide up to $30 million to 39 different municipalities so that they can then work with their community partners to determine the best way. We announced in January that the recipients—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: The announcement has been made, but when we look at the 2019-20 situation, the plan spending is $0. So the $30 million is an announcement; the plan spending is $0. Where’s the money? Since this is money to help municipalities, help me understand, please, how municipalities have made up that shortfall, or are going to make it up, or what they can anticipate.
Mr. Felix Fung: I’m Felix Fung. I’m the director of finance at the Ministry of Transportation.
MPP French, the Community Transportation Grant Program is actually funded out of our gas tax program. The gas tax program is a statutory appropriation line within our printed estimates. If you print out our full printed estimates, there is a line under vote item 2702 that says, “Municipal public transportation funding, the Dedicated Funding for Public Transportation Act.” There is $338 million that has been set aside to support our Provincial Gas Tax Program, which includes our Community Transportation Grant Program.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: The $30 million that has been set aside—you said “includes,” but your promise is $30 million. If I’m misunderstanding, and $30 million is somehow different from $30 million, why isn’t it still—
Mr. Felix Fung: The $30 million includes our investment over a number of years. The $338 million is our allocation for the entire gas tax program for this year, which includes funding to support the Community Transportation Grant Program.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: So the full $30 million is a part of that $338 million—
Mr. Felix Fung: Correct.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: —but not labelled Community Transportation Grant Program.
Mr. Felix Fung: The Community Transportation Grant Program is funded out of our provincial gas tax program as part of our provincial gas tax revenue. Therefore, it’s not shown as the Community Transportation Grant Program per se. The funding that has been built into our statutory appropriation reflects that.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Had I not asked that, how would I know that?
Mr. Felix Fung: I think if you look at our program description for the Community Transportation Grant Program, it does mention that it is funded through our gas tax.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: So that is publicly findable. I just didn’t find it.
Mr. Felix Fung: Yes.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Minister, you spoke yesterday about priorities of the government: sustainability, environmental responsibility and pieces like that. I’m here representing Oshawa, and certainly everyone in this room and most across the province are aware that General Motors made a decision to stop making vehicles in my riding and all but abandoned my community. They also declared, around the same time, that the future is electric. When you have major automotive giants like General Motors who have told the world, including this government, that the future is electric, and we’re getting that information—major companies and employers say something like this—it seems ludicrous to me and, I would say, to others to then have the government turn around and pull supports for that electric vehicle future.
Specifically, Metrolinx used to have electric vehicle charging stations in some of their parking lots. That program got nixed. All programs pertaining to electric vehicles and EV charging stations have been cut completely. Additionally, rebates for consumers to purchase electric vehicles were ended by this government.
According to the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, the government is counting on low-carbon vehicle uptake for 16% of its greenhouse gas reduction goals. How does the government plan to meet its climate change targets for low-carbon vehicles when it has allocated exactly zero dollars to achieve this? Why on earth would you cancel rebates for people to purchase greener, cleaner vehicles and pull already-installed charging stations when major companies and employers have said the future is in electric vehicles?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Just before you answer, if you would pull the microphone—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): As we’re being serenaded, voices are not as clear up here. Sorry, Minister.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: That’s fine. Is that better?
As I said earlier, in order to meet our targets under our made-in-Ontario climate plan, our investment in transit infrastructure and GO rail expansion, trying to get people off our roads and using public transit, is a significant step forward to achieving those emission reductions. We’re doing that work.
As I said, we have other projects under way where we’ve been able to measure what the expected impacts on lowering GHG emissions are, and so I can speak to that.
But we have announced that we’re working with the city of Toronto and the region to be able to deliver more transit, which will have a significant impact on lowering GHG emissions.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: With respect to investments that we’re making in other approaches, automated approaches, I recently attended the CAVC conference in Kanata. We’re doing a lot of work in encouraging and investing in the automated vehicle sector, and we’ve made some regulatory changes in order to make that happen.
I’ll turn it over to the deputy to speak in more detail.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay. I want to bring it back to the—
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: But our commitment to the environment and lowering GHG emissions will be met through the significant investments that we will make which will change people’s behaviour.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Does the government support electric vehicles and the infrastructure to encourage it? Because folks at home want to know. And how do we know that, when you’re pulling the plug, literally, from programs that support that?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: When we made our changes—we were very clear during the election that we didn’t want to be subsidizing the people at the top levels of the income scale who were buying very expensive electric vehicles. We instead decided to make the investments in a way that will affect people all across the income scale, and that’s where transit comes in—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Okay, but you’re not investing in cycling infrastructure, which would be a totally different end of the scale—just as part of the conversation around GHG reductions.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We are working in the ministry—and I’ll turn it over to officials—on supporting a multimodal approach to transportation and encouraging different kinds of transportation.
I’ll turn it over to the deputy to—
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Actually, I got as much of the answer as I’m interested in having at this time. I do need to get through the others, and we have a restricted time frame, especially today.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): You have two minutes.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: Oh, okay. I’ll keep this one brief. The lands along the finished stretches of the 407 east are being kept by the Ministry of Transportation—the employment lands along there. The regional municipality and local municipalities have been asking this government for the land back so that they can do something with it and make plans.
My understanding is that those lands belong to the municipality, but they’re being held by the ministry. You can feel free to correct me. Historically, employment lands along the 407 have been returned to neighbouring municipalities in a timely manner. This government is not releasing them.
So why won’t the government give them back? And if I’m wrong and you are, what is the plan? What’s in it for you to hold on to them? And why can’t those employment lands come back to the region of Durham?
Mr. Teepu Khawja: Teepu Khawja, assistant deputy minister, provincial highways management division, MTO. I appreciate that question, MPP. We’ve had a number of conversations with the region and with the affected municipalities. We would agree that it’s a large-scale project. There is no benefit to us in terms of holding on to the—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): And with that, I’m very sorry to say, that’s all the time we have available for today. You will get another opportunity, believe me.
The committee is now adjourned until 9 a.m. next Tuesday.
The committee adjourned at 1830.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
Chair / Président
Mr. Peter Tabuns (Toronto–Danforth ND)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr. Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls ND)
Mr. Stan Cho (Willowdale PC)
Mr. Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls ND)
Mr. Randy Hillier (Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston IND)
Ms. Andrea Khanjin (Barrie–Innisfil PC)
Ms. Jane McKenna (Burlington PC)
Ms. Judith Monteith-Farrell (Thunder Bay–Atikokan ND)
Ms. Lindsey Park (Durham PC)
Mr. Michael Parsa (Aurora–Oak Ridges–Richmond Hill PC)
Mr. Randy Pettapiece (Perth–Wellington PC)
Mr. Peter Tabuns (Toronto–Danforth ND)
Ms. Effie J. Triantafilopoulos (Oakville North–Burlington / Oakville-Nord–Burlington PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Ms. Jennifer K. French (Oshawa ND)
Mr. Vijay Thanigasalam (Scarborough–Rouge Park PC)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Julia Douglas
Staff / Personnel
Mr. Michael Vidoni, research officer,