Union Station renovation could stretch into 2020

It could be 2020 before the already delayed and over budget renovation of Union Station is completely finished.

City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross said Friday that the city's share of the construction should be substantially done by the end of 2019. But there will still be work to do once the city's contractor packs up.

A contractor for Metrolinx has to prepare the space for GO and UP Express riders, adding Presto and ticket vending machines and connecting staircases and elevators to track level. A spokesperson for the transit agency says that process could take two to four months.

Metrolinx's contractor is trying to chip away at the work in the meantime.

"Hopefully we'll get as much of that done as possible by the time the city hands it over," Anne Marie Aikins told NEWSTALK 1010 Friday.

The revitalization of Union Station began in 2009 and was supposed to be complete in time for Toronto to host the Pan Am Games in the summer 2015. A new competition target was set for the end of 2018 and then in November, the city said that wouldn't be possible either.

The cost of the project has also ballooned from $640 million to $823 million.

In January 2018 Toronto city council tacked $23 million onto the then $800 million renovation with the aim of completing it by year's end. City News reported Friday that only $2.2 million of that new funding has been spent so far. 

Brad Ross could not point to any one particular reason for the latest delay.

"These are incredibly complex kinds of projects because you are in a working environment," Ross said. He did acknowledge well-publicized problems with contractors that have lead to delays through the years.

In 2014, the Globe and Mail reported that the previous year walls inside Union Station had been built without consideration that there was still work to be done behind them and had to be turned down. An attempt to deviate from elevator plans laid out a contract in an attempt to save money appeared to have extended work by two weeks per elevator with an extra cost of $33,000.

Ross says any financial claims over missed deadlines would not addressed until after construction is complete.

Union Station is Canada's busiest transit hub with 300,000 people passing through every day.