'Hurdles' remain in deal to beef up roads and transit

Rob Ferguson Toronto Star 07/25/2008 08:23
'Hurdles' remain in deal to beef up roads and transit

Improvements worth $9.3 billion over the next six years are coming for Ontario highways, public transit systems, rural Internet access and other infrastructure under a new federal-provincial deal. But most of what will be built by 2014 – not to mention when and where – remains a huge question mark under a framework agreement signed yesterday by the two governments in London.

"It's early days on this," said a senior provincial official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We still have some hurdles to cross."

Ottawa and Queen's Park have agreed on a handful of projects, but none is in the GTA. Others will be the subject of negotiations between the two senior levels of government and, in some cases, municipalities.

"Our government will work with Ontario to identify and deliver upon those infrastructure needs most critical to Ontarians," said Lawrence Cannon, the federal infrastructure minister.

Toronto Mayor David Miller joined provincial officials in praising the long-awaited deal as a breakthrough at a time when Ontario's economy is sagging because of oil prices, the high dollar and a U.S. slowdown.