Parking, fuel tax proposed to fund GTA transit expansion
Christina Commisso, CTV Toronto
Published Monday, March 18, 2013 10:48AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 19, 2013 1:38PM EDT
The Toronto Region Board of Trade outlined four methods that could funnel more than $2 billion yearly into a regional transportation expansion plan in a bid to ease gridlock in the GTA.
A regional sales tax, a parking space levy, a regional fuel tax and HOV toll lanes are all being proposed by the organization, as it launches a campaign to raise public awareness and support for dedicated revenue tools.
In announcing the proposal on Monday, Toronto Region Board of Trade president Carol Wilding stressed that the time to discuss whether new revenues tool are needed has passed. She said all levels of government, the public and the private sector must now turn their focus on how new revenue will be generated.
Wilding said the tolls and taxes are considered balanced and fair, “because everyone contributes and everyone benefits.”
She also challenged anyone opposed to the funding tools to respond with alternatives.
“Saying ‘no’ is no longer an option,” she said during a press conference Monday. “If you don’t participate, don’t complain. This is an ideas-based debate.”
The Toronto Region Board of Trade was tasked with recommending new funding tools for Metrolinx’s $50 billion transit expansion, dubbed “The Big Move.”
Metrolinx plans to build more than 1,200 kilometres of rapid transit — more than triple what exists now — which will leave 80 per cent of residents in the Great Toronto and Hamilton Area within two kilometres of rapid transit.
The cost of the new transit projects are pegged at $2 billion annually over the next 25 years.
The annual revenue potential of the four funding methods breaks down as the following:
- Regional sales tax - $1 billion - $1.6 billion
- Parking space levy - $1 billion - $1.6 billion
- Regional fuel tax - $640 million - $840 million
- HOV toll lanes - $25 million - $45 million
“In today’s ultra-competitive global economy our competitors are increasing their investment in infrastructure, helping them to attract investment jobs and skilled workers,” Wilding said, adding that Toronto has fallen behind its competitors.
She said that the exact dollar amount or percentage for each revenue tool will be negotiated by the province and municipalities, adding that the Toronto Region Board of Trade is not taking an “absolutist position.”
“New revenue tolls will only be advanced with public support,” Wilding said.