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Province says no to Toronto road tolls, boosts gas tax fund for municipalities

The Canadian Press and News staff | posted Friday, Jan 27th, 2017

0127-wynnetransit

Premier Kathleen Wynne is denying Toronto’s request to charge tolls on two major commuter highways, but says Ontario municipalities will get a bigger share of gas tax money for transit.

Wynne said there weren’t enough commuter options in place to justify adding tolls to the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, where Toronto Mayor John Tory has said he wanted to charge a $2 toll.

“The province is not supporting plans for municipal road tolls at this time,” the Liberal government said in a statement.

While not coming right out and saying “no” to tolls at a news conference on Friday morning, Wynne said commuters need to have reliable transit options in place before revenue generating measures like road tolls are implemented.

The premier said that starting in 2019, the share of the gas tax that goes to municipalities will increase from two cents per litre to four cents per litre by 2021. However, it won’t increase the tax that drivers pay at the pumps.

“We’re doubling the amount of money the province gives to local transit agencies through the provincial share of the existing gas tax,” Wynne said at the Richmond Hill Transit Facility on Friday.

“This is not an increase in gas tax; this is existing gas tax and we are doubling that share.”

Ontario currently commits $335 million of gas tax funding to about 100 municipalities for transit, which the province estimates would increase to $642 million in 2021-22.

As Wynne made the announcement, she and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca stressed that their toll decision is about affordability, which, along with a promise to trim electricity bills, could signal a focus on pocketbook issues leading into the election.

Tory expressed displeasure with the decision in a statement issued Thursday night.

“If the Ontario government has decided to deny a regulatory change requested by the overwhelming majority of city council, the mayor would expect the provincial government to take serious and immediate action to address the city’s transit, transportation, childcare and housing needs,” the statement said.

Tory has previously said a $2 toll would raise about $200 million a year to help transit funding. The cost would be split between Toronto taxpayers and the 40 per cent of commuters from outside the city who use the DVP and Gardiner.


Related stories:

Wynne to deny Mayor Tory’s plan to toll DVP, Gardiner: report

Toronto city council endorses highway tolls, still needs provincial approval

Opposition parties warn Liberals against supporting tolls on Gardiner, DVP

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