Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Toronto Friday morning where he helped kick off construction for a new pedestrian tunnel to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. He also entered the city's subways debate.
If you ever wanted to travel to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, you were required to take a short ferry ride. Within two years, it will no longer be necessary because construction has begun on a “new gateway between the airport and downtown Toronto.”
On Friday, Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, alongside Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, helped welcome the start of the project’s construction, according to a news release from the Prime Minister’s Office. The prime minister explained that the tunnel will help passengers travel to and from the airport, but also that it will create jobs.
“Toronto is a world-class city and airports in world class cities must provide world-class service,” said Harper. “As much as we all like the ferries, and I have all kinds of great memories riding them as a boy, lining up for one when you are rushing for a plane does not qualify as world class.”
Travellers will go through a pavilion to enter the tunnel from the downtown core and then head down to a set of elevators. Project officials say this will save the airport and passengers time. More than 1.5 million fly annually at Billy Bishop.
The project is estimated to cost approximately $60 million and scheduled to be completed by sometime in 2014. Harper stated that it will be built completely with private money and will not “cost taxpayers a dime.”
Harper entered the contentious subways debate that has plagued Toronto for the last several months. The prime minister noted that he prefers subways over LRTs and streetcars when he takes public transit, but said that there will not be any further funding from the federal government, according to a report from the Globe and Mail.
“I prefer when I want to use public transit to go underground, unimpeded and when I want to use my car I prefer not to be running in to LRTs and streetcars,” said Harper during a media availability.
Mayor Ford told reporters that despite losing control of the Toronto Transit Commission board at city hall, he will continue to fight for subways.