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Doug Ford government to ban tolls on Ontario highways

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Ontario will ban tolls on all provincial highways, including the recently uploaded Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway in Toronto.

Ontario Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria made the announcement Thursday as part of a broader set of changes, including a permanent freeze on driver’s licence and photo card fees, and the automatic renewal of licence plates.

“Our government knows that many families are feeling the pinch in their wallets. The last thing they need to see is another unnecessary fee or toll coming their way,” Sarkaria told reporters.

The new legislation, expected to be tabled next week, will not remove any tolls currently in place. It will, however, prevent roads from being tolled in the future unless the legislation is repealed.

The Ontario government uploaded the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway as part of a deal with the City of Toronto in November.

At the time, Premier Doug Ford pledged not to toll either roadway, something that the city tried to do in 2016 and was considering more recently as a way to make up for lost revenue.

Hwy. 407 will continue to be tolled

Drivers using Highway 407 will continue to be charged fees, as those tolls are set by a private company. A spokesperson for the Minister of Transportation also clarified the new legislation would only apply to new tolls, and not the portion of the 407 East, which is provincially owned.

Drivers using a portion of Highway 407, between Burlington and Pickering, can expect to see fee increases as of February 2024. The company responsible for the tolls, known as Highway 407 ETR, recently increased fees after a four-year freeze.

Drivers of light vehicles, including most passenger cars and light-duty trucks, will see tolls increase between one and 11 cents per kilometre depending on the time of day and zone travelled.

The agency says the increase could result in a monthly increase of less than $5 for the average customer.

Thursday’s announcement comes two years after the Ford government scrapped tolls on Highways 412 and 418 in Durham Region.

In December 2021, mayors in the region wrote a letter to the premier asking for the tolls to be scrapped, as they were the only provincially-owned highways that charged drivers.

What else is in the 'Get It Done Act'?

The premier already disclosed that Ontario drivers will have their licence plates automatically renewed free of charge as long as they are “in good standing.”

Drivers with fines or outstanding municipal fees like parking tickets will get a notice that their licence will not automatically renew.

The government notes that until the legislation passes at Queen’s Park, drivers will still have to renew their licence plates.

The province will also make a current freeze on driver’s licence and Ontario Photo Card fees, first enacted in 2019, permanent. The government estimates this could save drivers about $66 million over the next five years.

Officials said that drivers have saved about $22 million since the freeze went into effect in 2019.

These changes could go into effect sometime in the summer after the bill passes.

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