June 13, 2012
TORONTO – A bid to take a sales tax and Toronto-only road tolls off the table when it comes to transit funding got derailed by Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee Tuesday.
Ford himself voted in favour of Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s unsuccessful motion to rule out a sales tax and non-regional road tolls from any future transit funding strategy.
In the end, the committee voted in favour of Councillor Josh Matlow’s request to give the city manager the green light to sit down with Metrolinx and establish a working group to create a funding strategy for the provincial transit agency’s regional transit plan.
Matlow has made no secret his motion is aimed at ensuring the city has a seat at the table when road tolls, sales taxes or other revenue tools to fund transit are hashed out.
Minnan-Wong stressed he doesn’t want to see a sales tax increase slapped on the city or road tolls limited to just Toronto roads.
“I firmly believe that if you’re going to do road tolls — and we’re going to have a very robust discussion about that — you can’t just have road tolls in the City of Toronto because the economic costs of that are fairly significant,” he said.
Councillor Norm Kelly, who favours a sales tax to fund transit, said Minnan-Wong’s condition would have made a “dog’s breakfast” of the process.
“You’re just inviting other municipalities to put conditions forward with their submissions,” Kelly said.
Councillor Joe Mihevc welcomed starting up a conversation over transit funding.
“The future is better with these revenue tools and taxes and fees than it would be if we didn’t have it,” Mihevc told the committee. “The alternative is really unthinkable.”
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