Toronto still divided on Scarborough subway plan: Poll
About one in three say candidates' views on it might affect their vote — with nearly an equal split for and against.
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Half of Toronto voters approve of council’s decision to proceed with the Scarborough subway extension, but only a minority say it will affect how they cast their ballot in the next municipal election.
A new poll by Forum Research found that 49 per cent of respondents support building the subway link to the Scarborough Town Centre instead of a light rail line, while 35 per cent disapprove. One in eight people said they didn’t have an opinion.
Support was highest among residents of Scarborough, where 63 per cent backed the subway plan. It was lowest in the former city of Toronto, where half opposed the underground line.
Other groups more likely to agree with the plan were those who favoured Doug Ford in the 2014 election (66 per cent), were between 18 and 34 years old (53 per cent), and the least wealthy.
Mayor John Tory campaigned on completing the extension, and defended it in the run-up to this month’s vote despite fierce criticism about its ballooning cost.
The poll found that people who supported Tory in the last election were fairly evenly split on the issue, with 45 per cent agreeing with council’s decision, and 40 per cent disagreeing.
Only 26 per cent of people who preferred mayoral candidate Olivia Chow wanted council to go ahead with the subway.
A minority, or 37 per cent, said the subway vote would affect their choice in the 2018 election. One in five people said they wouldn’t vote for a candidate who supported the subway, and an almost equal number (17 per cent) said they wouldn’t get behind an anti-subway candidate.
Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said those numbers show that voters who oppose the subway are more engaged than those who supported it. “(T)hose who don’t like the idea now, won’t like it in 2018, and they may be looking for revenge,” he said.
After a protracted debate that spanned two mayoralties, on Jul. 13 council voted 27-16 against reviving plans for a seven-stop LRT in Scarborough that would run from Kennedy subway station to the Town Centre and Sheppard Ave East. Cost estimates of the line vary, but it would have been built using a provincial contribution of $1.48 billion.
Instead councillors opted to push on with the 6-kilometre, one-stop subway extension. The city will have to pick up the extra cost of the project. The estimated total leaped to $3.2 billion earlier this year, $1.2 billion more than the previous estimate.
Forum conducted the poll of 868 randomly selected Toronto adults on July 19 using an interactive voice response telephone survey. Results based on the total sample are considered accurate plus or minus 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Where appropriate, the data has been statistically weighted by age, region, and other variables to ensure that the sample reflects the actual population according to the latest Census data.
Forum houses its poll results in the Data Library of the University of Toronto political science department.
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