TORONTO, ON – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she believes many taxpayers cannot afford to pay a toll every time they drive on the Don Valley Parkway or Gardiner Expressway so she won’t let the City of Toronto implement the fees.
Toronto Mayor John Tory had announced before Christmas that he wanted to introduce $2-a-trip tolls. At the time, he said he hoped the money would produce about $200 million a year to be spent on transit infrastructure and highway repairs.
Wynne instead said the province will give the city more proceeds from the provincial gasoline tax, so by 2021-22 Toronto will get $307 million.
Predictably, this morning, Tory said he is going to ask the premier how she’s going to solve the city’s transit budget problems and questioned Wynne’s legal position, given that the City of Toronto is entitled to impose tolls on city roads, as per legislation known as the City of Toronto Act.
He also said tolls would have reduced congestion, which cuts vehicle emissions and, he added, gives people more time with their families. Wynne’s move means less time for families, the mayor said.
“The gas tax is a step in the right direction but only a step,” Tory said at a press conference. “Today is not an end point, today is a beginning point.”
“It took a while to agree on a more favorable resolution than tolls, but we think this works,” said Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) president Stephen Laskowski. “OTA applauds Premier Wynne, Minister Del Duca and Mayor Tory’s solution to this matter. This announcement redirects current tax funds where they are required and does not place more of a tax burden on road users.”
The association estimates that the province’s trucking industry already pays close to $2 billion a year in provincial diesel fuel taxes, carbon fees and registration fees.
“This is an example of good public policy. Dedicating current funds collected from road users to improve road conditions, improve traffic flows and vehicle transit times is a sound decision that will create a more livable and economically viable province,” added Laskowski.
– The original version of this story has been updated to include comments from the Ontario Trucking Association