Monday, January 13, 1930 The Globe (Toronto) Page 14, col. 6

St. Clair subways, asked for by city, refused at Ottawa.

Board of Railway Commissioners dismisses Toronto's application for direction to railways to build improvements

T. L. Church urges appeal be launched

An order sought by the City of Toronto to direct the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Railways to proceed with the construction of subways under St. Clair Avenue and Lansdowne Avenue has been dismissed in judgment made public by the Board of Railway Commissioners at Ottawa.

In judgment, which is written by Hon. H. A. McKeown, Chief Commissioner, it is stated that contributions from the grade crossing fund and expenditures by the railway companies cannot, at the moment be justified.

Expenditures since 1909.

Expenditures since 1909 are given as follows: Railway crossing fund: In cities, $1,755,304.40; in towns, etc., $214,707.84; total, $1,970,012.24.

Railways: In cities, $7,073,487.67; in towns, $741,749.04; total, $7,815,236.71.

Municipalities: In cities, $4,572,014.21; in towns, $485,617.82; total, $5,057,632,.03

From the total expenditures from the grade crossing fund of $1,970,012.24, the amount expended in Toronto is $1,460,084.74, the Chief Commissioner says, and the board does not feel justified in immediately ordering the subways requested.

Mayor Wemp statement.

Mayor Wemp, in a statement last night, declared that the city will again urge the Government to proceed with the work.

T. L. Church, K.C., M.P., Federal member for the Riding of Lansdowne, St. Clair, is much incensed at the Dominion Railway Board's refusal to order the railways to complete the construction of the northwest grade separation in Toronto.

An absurdity, he says.

The thing is an absurdity, Mr. Church said last night. "The Railway Board refuses to order the completion of a work that the Railway Board ordered begun six years ago. And its only excuse is that Toronto has already received more than its share of the old grade crossing fund. The Dominion Railway Board may be ignorant, but every one else know that the grade crossing fund was never intended to apply to major grade separations in big cities. It never has been so applied except by the Railway Board and in this city.

One of Canada's worst.

"Not by the widest stretch of the imagination does the St. Clair Avenue crossing, one of the worst in Canada, come under the old grade crossing fund," Mr. Church said. "That fund was established to assist small cities, towns and rural municipalities. To talk of applying it to the northwest grade separation construction in Toronto is absurd; as absurd as the suggestion that the railways cannot afford the expenditure."

"The Dominion Government and the C.N.R., between them," Mr. Church pointed out, "are spending $75,000,000 in Montréal now. Spending a lot of it on grade separations, too. They don't ring in the grade crossing fund there."

"The grade crossing fund has not been applied in Vancouver or Winnipeg grade separation work. It is not involved in the long-overdue and necessary work they have at last undertaken at Hamilton. It has been applied to no main grade separation work in any other big city in Canada. But they grade it our and ring it on Toronto.

"The fact of the mater is," Mr. Church explained, "that the city is under no legal or moral obligation to contribute a cent toward the northwest grade separation. St. Clair Avenue was an old military road, there before the railway. Under the Railway Act the railways are liable for all the expense of protecting the crossing of every road that was there before the railway went through. But Toronto has offered to pay one-third of the cost of this grade separation in order to get the work done and for the safety and convenience of her citizens," continued Mr. Church.

Does not feel justified.

"And now the Railway Board says it does not feel justified in making the order for the northwest grade separation on account of the expense to the railways and the amount Ontario has already received from the grade crossing fund.

"What the board is doing is saving the C.N.R.'s finances at the expense of Toronto and to the danger of the lives of the citizens of Toronto," Mr. Church declared.

"The C.N.R. has money to spend like water on other things in other cities. Millions have been wasted in duplicate hotels that have never paid their carrying charges. Millions can be spent on making new streets at the expense of the whole Dominion for the City of Montréal. Millions can go to finance the Hudson Bay Railway in Manitoba from the Dominion Exchequer, though the T. & N.O., the Ontario road to James Bay, has never had a cent of Federal grant.

Ten or twelve millions.

"The C.N.R. can spend ten or twelve millions in grade separations that protect the lives of American citizens in Detroit. It can spend millions on grade separations on the bankrupt Central Vermont Railway it has bought. It can spend the millions, and the United States authorities will see that it does.

"But when it comes to contributing toward protecting the lives of Canadian citizens in the City of Toronto it is another thing. The Dominion Railway Board thinks it over for a few years, and then decides that it is not justified in making the order.

"Two things must be done to protect the interests of Toronto," Mr. Church said.

"First, let the city appeal from this judgment of the Railway Board. It has the right under the Railway Act, to appeal from the Dominion Railway Board to the Governor-General in Council. Let the appeal be made and let representatives of the city meet the Cabinet face to face and discuss the matter.

"The second thing that must be one is to bring the whole question before Parliament. I have already provided for that. I have given notice of a bill to amend the Railway Act by declaring that the Grade Crossing Fund does not apply to cities of 200,000 and more."

Mr. Church hopes by means of his bill to bring about a general discussion of the Railway Board's activities and a reorganization of the board.

"I will have the Progressives with me," he said last night. "They know that the Railway Board is the weak link in the Dominion executive. The thing is a laughing-stock at Ottawa. The Railway Commissioners seem to have neither thoughts, words nor voices except as the railways give them utterance. They issue any order, vary it, vary it again, vary all of it, turn a complete somersault. The only thing you can be sure they won't do is issue an order involving the Canadian National Railways in expenditures in the City of Toronto. Next fall I am going to enter the Railway Board in the Old Time Fiddlers' Contest at the Exhibition. From what I know of them, they should win the prize."

Railways: C.N.Rys.