TTC’s design changes push York subway costs up

Changes to the proposed York University station on the Spadina subway extension are pushing the cost up, a report going to the Toronto Transit Commission’s next meeting says, reported 24 Hours Aug. 18.

Design work alone on the station, one of six on the 8.6-kilometre extension, will cost up to $18 million, or $3.2 million more than previously expected, the report says. That’s on top of a $3.7 million bump up to the design contract the TTC approved in June.

The extra costs are due to the need to have consultants draw up two alternative designs, the report says.

"The first design change was to remove structural columns from the platform edge when the decision was made to design without platform edge doors being in place on opening day," the report says.

This required extensive redesign of the station structure.

"A subsequent design change was required to reduce the estimated construction cost to meet budgetary constraints," the report says. "This required significant changes to the design concept to reduce the size and configuration of the station and associated site works."

The capital cost of building the York University station is now estimated to be $124 million. The overall budget for the Spadina extension is $2.6 billion.

  • The cost of designing the York University subway station is going up, reported "CTV News at 11:30” Aug. 17. The new design work will add another $3.2 million to the project.

What can Canada do about migrants? Not much

The recent Sun Sea incident – in which a boatload of Tamils seeking residence in Canada landed on the coast of British Columbia – has raised a political firestorm, wrote James Morton, an adjunct professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in a National Post op-ed Aug. 18.

As a legal matter, what can be done to stop a boatload of people intent on landing in Canada and claiming status? asked Morton, a Toronto lawyer and past president of the Ontario Bar Association.

Surprisingly little.

Canada is obliged to accept refugees as part of international agreements. Those treaty obligations do not, however, mean that refugees have the same rights as Canadians. Other nations – Australia, for example – accept refugees but keep them in detention facilities until they are processed. Australia also keeps refugee claimants offshore in centres on Manus Island or Nauru. The effect of such detention has been to limit the number of refugee claimants to Australia. Other countries, such as the United States, limit the rights on arrival of refugee claimants. In the United States, low-level immigration inspectors have authority to identify and immediately remove individuals who are not eligible to come into the country as they are intercepted. 

Such mandatory detention, or summary exclusion, is not a lawful option for Canada as a result of our Supreme Court’s application of constitutional rights and freedoms to refugee claimants, argued Morton.

So what can the federal government do?

The only practical response is to speed up the refugee claim process. Presently the complete processing of a refugee claim takes months, or even years. Most Canadians remember immigrant roots and are not hostile to legitimate refugee claimants, so they would approve of such a change. In this regard Parliament is moving in the right direction. The recent political compromise on proposed refugee reform legislation would allow all claims to be dealt with faster so genuine refugees can be settled more quickly and the ones judged to be false can be sent home sooner. Making the system more effective is sensible and proper, concluded Morton. And probably our only choice.

Court overstepped in Abdullah Khadr ruling

The extradition process from Canada involves both a judicial and a political decision. Judges decide if there are grounds to extradite and Parliament, through the minister of justice, decides if extradition is otherwise just and appropriate. Last week’s court decision refusing to extradite Abdullah Khadr to the United States illustrates a trend blurring the lines between the role of the court and the political judgment of Parliament, argued James Morton, an adjunct professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in the Ottawa Citizen Aug. 18.

What is of concern in the decision is the apparent pre-emption by the courts of the political decision whether it is just to extradite, wrote Morton, a Toronto lawyer and past president of the Ontario Bar Association. The considerations applied by the court – and there is no doubt that Khadr was treated appallingly – were precisely the type of considerations the minister of justice would normally review. Weighing the justice of the individual case with the impact refusing extradition could have on Canada’s international relations is a decision courts are poorly positioned to make.

Judges have a role, as do politicians; in extradition matters the roles are complementary but not identical. The division between the political and judicial role ought not to be blurred, stated Morton.

On air

  • Leo Adler (LLB ’73), criminal lawyer and adjunct professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, discussed the Crown’s decision to drop charges against the Toronto Humane Society’s former top administrators after raids nine months ago by Toronto Police and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, on CBC Radio’s “Here & Now” Aug. 17.