As the readers of my blog probably know, I am not a fan of the Scarborough Subway extension. Even though the subway will be expensive and less useful than a fully-funded light rail replacement of the ageing Scarborough RT, politicians from all three major parties have backed the subway, promising “respect” and “fairness” for Scarborough.
Neethan Shan, the New Democratic Party’s candidate in Thursday’s provincial by-election in Scarborough-Rouge River, has been pushing this messaging hard, though all three candidates — including City Councillor Raymond Cho, running for the Progressive Conservatives — are all in favour of the extension. That conveniently ignores the fact that the subway won’t even stop in Scarborough-Rouge River — though the LRT would have.
But it’s now time to move on. Scarborough is going to get a six kilometre long, one-stop subway extension, which was confirmed by a vote at city council in July. The focus should now be on getting the best value out of the $3.2 billion project. That must include improving Scarborough Centre.
The subway extension is currently in the environmental assessment/detailed design stage. I expect that construction will actually begin probably just before the next provincial election is called in 2018. It won’t open for another four to five years after that, in 2022 or 2023. That is plenty of time to make some necessary changes to the street grid, the built form, and the public realm.
A few weeks ago (during a rare summer rain storm), I explored Scarborough Centre. With too many surface parking lots and a hostile road network, there’s a lot of work that has to be done to make the improve this suburban hub. Employment and residential growth is currently stagnant; that has to be addressed. All that said, there are also a lot of great community assets already in place, and there are some opportunities to make it better.