Councillor Josh Matlow

Toronto Sun: Road tolls still a taxing issue

April 27, 2012

Toronto city council moved further along its crash course with another road tolls debate Friday.

Councillor Josh Matlow — who is leading the charge to revive the debate — e-mailed his road toll motion to his council colleagues Friday and asked for their feedback.

“This motion ensures that Toronto has a leading seat at the table as Metrolinx moves forward with a funding plan for a regional transit system,” Matlow told the Sun Friday. “Whether it be road tolls, a regional sales tax or another mechanism to fund transit, what I think we can all agree upon is that we can’t build transit, subways or LRTs or anything else, unless we know how we are going to pay for it.”

Matlow’s motion asks councillors to give the city manager the green light to “engage and participate” with Metrolinx in creating a working group to give input on the provincial transit agency’s funding strategy for a regional transit plan. The working group would include the city, municipalities from around the Greater Golden Horseshoe and representatives from several provincial ministries.

“This should not be a move by Metrolinx without having the very municipalities who will be subject to that discussion at the table and I think Toronto should be in the lead,” Matlow said. “We want to be at that table.

“I don’t want us to be left at the station, I want us to be directing the train,” he added.

Matlow acknowledged he could be starting the city down the path to road tolls.

“There were many people during the subway debate who said, ‘Why can’t we be a great city like New York City that has all those subways?’” Matlow said. “You know what New York has? They have a city sales tax, they have road tolls and they have a 4% transit sales tax for the 12 county Metropolitan Transit Authority.”

“I’m not suggesting we go that far, what I’m suggesting is if we want to be a great city, we need to do what great cities do to fund transit.”

TTC chair Karen Stintz is seconding Matlow’s motion.

Stintz said she supports the “regional aspect” of any revenue strategy rather than one that would just be slapped on Torontonians.

She wants all revenue options looked at, not just road tolls, and insisted Matlow’s motion also include a look at other revenue tools, including a sales tax.

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