Councillor Josh Matlow

Citynews: Request for DVP, Gardiner road tolls report rejected

Some city councillors wanted to study the idea of putting tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway but it hit a roadblock on Tuesday.

Councillors voted Tuesday afternoon against a motion for a feasibility study on implementing road tolls on the DVP and the Gardiner. Council voted 19-26 against that motion.

As the city continues to struggle with the spectre of cutting services to save money, Coun. Josh Matlow re-ignited debate on the issue during a special council meeting Monday. He suggested it’s mostly people from out of town that use the highways and they should pay a toll.

The proceeds would fund public transit, he proposed.

Matlow’s idea received some support from Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, who would like to revive a 2001 proposal to build toll lanes on the DVP. Holyday was deeply criticized by both right and left-leaning councillors when he floated the idea of building tolled express lanes on the thoroughfare.

Coun. Paula Fletcher also supported tolls and said she’d like a study on drivers paying to use the elevated section of the Gardiner.

Some drivers were against the idea. Debra Neal told CityNews, “I pay enough in road tolls already on the 407. It’s a killer. So for me to pay tolls there it makes it almost impossible for me to keep up.”

But others thought it was a good idea and could help with gridlock, which trade groups have said costs the economy a lot of money.

“It sure saves a lot of trouble with the amount of traffic that’s out there,” said Ray Skivington.

Councillors met Tuesday for the second of a two-day meeting to debate and vote on recommendations to plug the city’s 2012 budget shortfall. Mayor Rob Ford says the city is in the red for $774 million.

The recommendations come from the executive committee, which is chaired by the mayor. It voted in favour of selling-off city-run landmarks, including the Toronto Zoo, Exhibition Place and three theatres, closing museums with low attendance and ending city participation in the Christmas Bureau — a program that delivers gifts to thousands of needy children and their families.

Other, more controversial suggestions from the city manager, including phasing-out subsidized child care spaces, selling city-run long-term care facilities and closing library branches, were deferred by the committee to the budget debate later this fall.

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