April 25, 2012
Toronto Councillor Josh Matlow wants city staff to research the potential for tolls and taxes that would be dedicated exclusively to transit expansion and improvement — not just in Toronto, but across the region.
“I think it’s vital we have a conversation with our neighbouring municipalities,” Matlow said Wednesday, acknowledging that other cities in the region also have transit projects they would like to finance.
“The emphasis is to have a realistic funding plan to support new subways and other transit priorities,” he said. “Certainly we can’t keep going back to the province.”
Matlow plans to ask council in May to direct staff to work on the issue and to consider creating a working group of municipal representatives, Metrolinx and the Ontario Finance Ministry.
He said he would prefer either a sales tax or tolls, rather than a combination, but he’s not prepared to be prescriptive at this early stage.
Extending rapid transit to the airport, tackling crowding on the south end of the Yonge-University subway and building new subways are among the projects on Toronto’s wish list, said Matlow, who believes acceptance of creating new revenue tools to pay for transit is growing.
Tolls are expected to be a topic of discussion at a brainstorming session Thursday by councillors from the “mighty middle” who can influence whether Mayor Rob Ford wins or loses at council.
The mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, dismissed talk earlier this week about tolling non-Toronto residents on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway, saying it would only encourage traffic congestion on side streets.
“The 905 won’t take this lightly. They’ll also put in a road toll against the 416ers and ultimately we’ll have road tolls all over. So this is another attack on taxpayers.”
Ford said he’d personally pay a toll if it was a new route parallel to the Gardiner, for example, allowing him to drive downtown more quickly from his Etobicoke home.
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