Province hands city $237M for infrastructure repair
Pothole-weary Toronto drivers received some good news Thursday as the city announced that $237 million in provincial funding could be used to repair the city's aging infrastructure.
Not only will the funds help Toronto repair rough roads and upgrade city services, but it will also provide the local economy with a much-needed boost through increased spending, said councilor Shelly Carroll, who is also the city's budget chief.
"We need to put an infusion into the economy of this city and proceeding with capital infrastructure work does exactly that," she told CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness.
The cash was wired into a city of Toronto bank account on Thursday, and city staff is now deciding on which projects will receive funding and which ones will be left out, Parness added.
To put things in perspective, the money would be enough to repair 420 kilometres of city roads or buy 360 new subway cars.
The funds, which were earmarked by the province during the summer months, would also be enough to build four new community centres or construct three new ambulance stations.
Toronto could also use the funds to renovate Nathan Phillips Square, revitalize the waterfront or push ahead on the city's bike plan, which aims to double amount of cycling trips by 2011.
The funding is partially the result of a provincial budget surplus during the 2007 - 2008 fiscal year.
Meanwhile, councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong said the city's infrastructure is at a crisis point and the funds need to be spent wisely.
"Fixing Nathan Phillips Square, for me, isn't a priority," he said. "Fixing someone's swimming pool, where kids need to recreate and get their exercise, that's a priority for me."
However, councilor Karen Stintz said that the city should show greater fiscal restraint so it's not constantly coming up short.
Toronto is confronting a debt of about $2.6 billion which forces it to divert large amounts of public money into paying down interest.
"There are discretionary items in budget that need to be called into question in this time of restraint," she said, pointing to the dimming economic picture around the world.