Ontario government deliberately hiding when the Eglinton Crosstown will open
Nobody has any real idea when the Eglinton Crosstown LRT will open to passengers, and it turns out there's a pretty good reason why everyone is in the dark about the long-overdue transit line's opening date.
A bombshell investigative report by the Toronto Star alleges a smoking gun in secret directives from Doug Ford's PC government, instructing Metrolinx to ignore reporters' questions about the embattled LRT line. The Star uncovered the damning evidence in documents obtained through a freedom of information request.
Disturbing how the Conservative gov is blocking @Metrolinx from discussing Eglinton Crosstown delays. We need more transit AND we need a gov that has the courage to step up and tell us about their billion-dollar projects that are in trouble. #dvw #onpoli https://t.co/G6VswCm6YF— Stephanie Bowman (@stephaniebowman) April 22, 2023
In its detailed report, The Star alleges close dealings between Metrolinx and the Premier's office on matters as mundane as an ultimately-aborted construction update that was to be released last year, and even claims that government officials workshopped official statements from the "arms-length" transit agency prior to release.
Metrolinx is supposed to be "arms length" from the government. It seems the scandal plagued Ford administration is unclear what that means. #ONpoli— NoDogInTheFight (@NDITF) April 22, 2023
New from @lexharvs https://t.co/ZQQeCBEbC2 pic.twitter.com/amkktRFNeh
Perhaps most damning, the outlet cites a Sept. 29, 2022 call log shared by Metrolinx to Ministry of Transport staff detailing requests from reporters at CityNews and CP24 seeking further information about the project's most recent delay announcement.
The call log states that Metrolinx wrote, "as directed, no response provided."
"This article is really damning. It's also a good primer for any #OLPLDR candidates who want to do transit differently," comments a Twitter user. "Ministerial political interference, bad P3 agreements, and a huge transit entity that functionally reports to no one are all things we need to rethink. #onpoli"
“According to communications the Star obtained through a freedom of information request, Metrolinx has at times wanted to give the public more information about the Eglinton LRT, but the provincial government directed staff at the transit agency not to.”— Sean Marshall (@Sean_YYZ) April 22, 2023
Another weighs in that there have "been issues with Metrolinx from the beginning: the majority of their board meeting sessions are held in camera, with only limited public access."
"Compare that to the TTC, whose monthly commission meetings are held at City Hall, with only specific items in camera."
Remember when Metro, that level of government we had before amalgamation, was seen as onerous & expensive? Now we have Metrolinx, which is slow, expensive & answers to no one except Ford's inner circle.— hamishb at mstdn dot ca (@HamishBuchanan1) April 24, 2023
The Star suggests that this tight control of information could be at least partly motivated by the state of the under-construction transit line.
In the final weeks of 2022, The Star landed another bombshell when it obtained an internal Metrolinx memo detailing a long list of deficiencies holding back construction on the line, ranging from failed waterproofing to damaged concrete.
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