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Building Transit Faster Act: Removing Unnecessary Delays

Backgrounder

Building Transit Faster Act: Removing Unnecessary Delays

Office of the Premier

Bill 171, the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 targets steps in the planning, design and construction process that have unnecessarily delayed major projects in the past. The legislation, once in force, will remove roadblocks and give the province the tools needed for Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario to deliver the following four priority transit projects faster:

  • Ontario Line Subway with 15 stations. The 15.5 km Ontario Line will run between Exhibition/Ontario Place through downtown Toronto to the Ontario Science Centre, bringing rapid transit to neighbourhoods such as Liberty Village and Flemingdon Park. It will help address overcrowding and provide needed relief on the TTC's Line 1 and Bloor-Yonge station.
  • Scarborough Subway Extension with three stations. The nearly 8 km extension of TTC's Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth), from the existing Kennedy Station northeast to McCowan Road/Sheppard Avenue, will improve transit access to the residents of Scarborough.
  • Yonge North Subway Extension with five stations. The 7.4 km extension of TTC's Line 1 (Yonge-University) will connect north from Finch Station to Highway 7. The line will pass through the City of Toronto into York Region, passing along the boundary of Markham and Vaughan into Richmond Hill.
  • Eglinton Crosstown West Extension with multiple stops along the Eglinton West corridor. The western extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (future Line 5) will increase connectivity along Eglinton Avenue from the future Mount Dennis station to Renforth Drive. Ultimately, through future phases of this project, the province is committed to establishing connectivity with Pearson International Airport.

The legislation, once in force, will help get transit built faster by

  1. Enabling relocation of utilities more efficiently while treating businesses fairly, and ensuring costs are not passed on to consumers.
  • Allow for Metrolinx to require a utility company to relocate its infrastructure within a prescribed timeframe. Introduce a clear process for managing disputes and allow Metrolinx to seek compensation from a utility company if timelines are not met.
  • This is similar to the process used for highway projects.
  • Amendments to the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 will prohibit the Ontario Energy Board from allowing provincially regulated utilities (electricity and natural gas) to pass compensation costs incurred from delays on to ratepayers.
  1. Better enabling the assembly of land required to construct transit projects, while still treating property owners fairly.
  • Currently, redundant steps require the province to repeatedly demonstrate the need for land related to infrastructure projects one at a time.
  • This will remove Hearings of Necessity for any property required to deliver the four priority transit projects and avoid unnecessary delays.
  • The province will continue to treat people fairly and compensate people whose properties are required.
  • The legislation would include provisions to allow the Minister of Transportation to establish an alternate streamlined process for receiving and considering comments from landowners about the proposed land assembly.
  • For municipal properties needed, municipalities will be given reasonable time limits for internal review to help keep the process on schedule.
  1. Ensuring timely access to municipal services and rights-of-way.
  • The government will continue to work closely with municipalities, including the City of Toronto, to negotiate and secure permits.
  • In cases where an agreement cannot be reached, the Minister of Transportation can use a new legislative provision to issue an order that outlines the terms and conditions under which Metrolinx could use or modify a municipal road or service, if needed.
  • The government will remain committed to working in partnership with municipalities and reducing the disruption to local communities as much as possible throughout the construction process.
  • As outlined in Provincial Statements of Intent with the City of Toronto and York Region, the government intends to work in collaboration with municipalities to develop and facilitate streamlined processes to get the necessary permits and approvals to build transit faster.  Further details of how all parties commit to engage and collaborate will be outlined in future downstream agreements under the transit partnerships. 
  • Agreements with the City of Toronto, York Region and the province, will ensure the partners continue to collaborate and work effectively together to delivery Ontario's historic 'New Subway Transit Plan for the GTA.' 
  1. Allowing the province to conduct due diligence work and remove physical barriers, such as trees, with appropriate notification to property owners.
  • Anyone entering private property will be required to provide notice, abide by time of day restrictions and show identification.
  • Similar provisions exist for highway projects.
  1. Ensuring nearby developments or construction projects do not interfere with or delay the four priority subway projects.
  • A permit will be required to construct or change any building, structure, road or underground utility infrastructure. A permit will also be required to perform any dewatering or excavation near a subway corridor, in addition to existing requirements.
  • This will apply to new and some existing developments. For existing approved developments that are identified as potential conflicts, there will be at least six months of negotiation before a permit will be required.
  • This will give the province the ability to coordinate activities in and around the subway corridors and stations and manage the timing of construction activities to prioritize the subway projects.

The province will continue to work with partners to implement these measures.

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