'A great mistake': Tory reacts to provincial budget
Published Friday, April 28, 2017 8:03AM EDT Last Updated Friday, April 28, 2017 11:02AM EDT
Mayor Tory says that by failing to match promised federal investments in housing and transit in Toronto, the provincial government has effectively “turned their backs” on the city.
Tory had conducted a sustained lobbying campaign in recent weeks, calling on the province to at the very least match the billions in funding the federal government is expected to provide the city for transit and housing over the next 11 years.
The Ontario budget tabled on Thursday, however, did not include any new funding for transit in Toronto or affordable housing.
The only investment in either category was $130 million in previously announced funding for the retrofitting of Toronto Community Housing buildings under the provinces climate change action plan.The province also announced that it would provide surplus lands in the West Don Lands and at Grosvenor and Grenville streets for the development of affordable housing.
Discussing the budget with reporters at city hall on Friday, Tory called the lack of funds for housing and transit “a great mistake,” especially in light of the increased federal dollars expected in coming years.
The federal government has said that it will provide $20.1 billion in funding to municipalities for transit and another $11.2 billion in funding for affordable housing over the next 11 years. Toronto’s share of the transit funding alone could be $5 billion, according to city staff.
“I don’t think that people thought that as the federal government finally came through the door to say we are here to be part of transit and housing that at the same time the province would be on their way out the door saying for the future we don’t really have any plans’ We need a provincial partner who is focused on building our city’s future and not measuring its achievements on dollars already spent,” Tory said. “You can’t play a highlight reel from last year and expect people to believe that you are going to be on the ice for the next game.”
Some crumbling TCHC units may be closed
The city is in the midst of a $2.6-billion, 10-year plan to repair crumbling TCHC units but without $1.73 billion in expected funding from the federal and provincial governments, a total of 7,500 units will have to be closed over the next eight years.
Tory told reporters that the “lack of provincial partnership will be the single biggest contributor to pressure that will come to close Toronto Community Housing units.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Tory said, noting that the budget was a “missed opportunity” to show that “vulnerable residents matter too.”
Though Tory said he is “disappointed” and “puzzled” with the budget, he said that it is not too late.
Going forward, he said that he will push the federal government to include matching stipulations in its transit and housing funds in order to “compel the province” to come to the table.
“Let’s be clear, without matching dollars from the province the relief line cannot be built, waterfront transit will not be built, the Eglinton East LRT will not be built,” he said.
Tory said that it is imperative that the province avoids “falling into the trap” of “thinking the hard work is already done."
That suggestion, however, drew the ire of Premier Kathleen Wynne, who told reporters at a subsequent news conference that she was “disappointed” with Tory’s analysis.
“When I look at the billions and billions of dollars that we are investing in Toronto, whether in the Finch LRT, SmartTrack, the Eglinton Crosstown or the Scarborough subway, we have made a significant, significant investment and will continue to make a significant investment in transportation and transit infrastructure in the City of Toronto,” she said. “I know Mayor Tory is talking about what comes next but these are multi-year projects. Our infrastructure investment has went from $160 billion to 190 billion over 13 years and Toronto is a big part of that."