Exec committee asks staff to work with Metrolinx and other GTA cities on transit funding
For months now, Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul's) has been pushing for a more intelligent conversation on transit funding. Matlow, to his credit, has been willing to raise road tolls as an idea to fund transit, and yesterday had a motion before Rob Ford's Executive Committee with a request:
City Council request the City Manager to engage and participate with Metrolinx in establishing a working group of appropriate officials representing the City of Toronto, Greater Golden Horseshoe municipalities, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, the Ontario Ministry of Finance, the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and any other relevant bodies to provide input into the preparation of a funding strategy for the Metrolinx regional transit plan.
Metrolinx's "funding strategy" is what we've all been waiting for, as the provincial transit planner figures out how to raise the billions of dollars it needs for future expansion. It also needs to raise that money without simply getting the province to pay for it, since Queen's Park has been trying to keep costs down lately.
Matlow's motion passed through Executive Committee yesterday and will presumably be approved by City Council in July. Somewhat surprisingly, the Mayor's team even shot down a motion by Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) that would have excluded any sales tax, as well as any road tolls that were not applied regionally, from staff consideration.
Since a sales tax is one of the most important tools to funding transit in other cities, it would have been silly to try to start a working group by ruling it out at the very beginning. At the very least it should at least be looked at.
Road tolls, however, don't have a lot of political backers, at least when we're talking about adding new ones to existing roads. Minnan-Wong's move may very well be redundant on that count.
image via Metrolinx.