Province to halt plans for Gardiner, DVP tolls: source
Published Thursday, January 26, 2017 9:19PM EST Last Updated Thursday, January 26, 2017 10:46PM EST
The plan put forth by Toronto’s top politician to place tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Expressway appears to have hit a red light.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is planning to halt the plan, a high-level source has confirmed to CTV News Toronto.
According to the source, the conversation about tolls on the Toronto roadways cannot take place "until there are true options in place. This decision is about affordability."
Instead, Wynne will give “hundreds of millions” to municipalities for transit operating costs, of which Toronto will see the lion’s share.
Wynne will make the announcement tomorrow while at a bus yard in Richmond Hill, the source said.
In December, city council voted 32-9 in favour of asking the province for the right to introduce road tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway.
“Last month, the mayor and the Toronto City Council sent a very clear message: We have a plan to make much-needed investments in transit that will help fix traffic congestion in Toronto and throughout the region,” a statement from Mayor John Tory’s office Thursday night reads.
“By introducing tolls on the Gardiner and DVP and asking everyone to pay their fair share for the roads they use, the City of Toronto could raise up to $300 million each year that would be directly invested in transit expansion projects, easing the financial pressures the city faces while creating rood to fund other priorities.
“If the Ontario government has decided to deny a regulatory change requested by the overwhelming majority of city council, the mayor would expect the provincial government to take serious and immediate action to address the city’s transit, transportation, childcare and housing needs.”
City staff previously estimated that a $2 toll on both the Gardiner and the DVP would generate $166 million annually while a $3.90 toll would generate $272 million.
The money from the new revenue tools would go towards paying for $33 billion in approved but unfunded capital projects. At the time, council also voted in favour of requesting a staff report on the "legal, policy and regulatory" measure that could be taken to ensure the money is used "exclusively for transit."
Speaking with CP24 Thursday night, Coun. Ana Bailao said that while the province’s recognition that municipalizes need more money is a good thing, she does have concerns.
“We did have an overwhelming support of council for a specific tool to deal with (these) issues, and we were denied that opportunity,” she said, referring to infrastructure funding.
“The Toronto Act acknowledges that we should be given the opportunity to have tolls as one of those tools.”
Another councillor, however, described the discussions around the possibility of the tolls as a waste of time.
“This was never acceptable to the public,” Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti told CP24.
“For me, the issue is saving money at the City of Toronto, not trying to find ways to tax people to pay for even more than what we can afford.”
Speaking with reporters following the vote in December, Tory called the decision a vote for a “fair (and) effective” way to pay for transit.
“Make no mistake – today demonstrates overwhelming support for a real plan to build a real transit network with a real answer on how we will pay for it,” he said.
“I have been honest with the people of Toronto about what we need to build, and how we’re going to do it. I believe that Toronto residents want to see real decisions and leaders who are willing to do what is right for this city, and its residents. I am proud of my council colleagues and the leadership they have shown today.”