TORONTO, Ont. — Tolls might not be coming to Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway as soon as Mayor John Tory planned.
At a press conference at a Richmond Hill bus yard Friday morning, Premier Kathleen Wynne said that Tory’s plans to toll the highways won’t be approved until more transit options are put in place. She reminded listeners at the event that tolls on any road in Ontario need approval from cabinet.
In order for the premier to approve the tolls, she said alternative transit options need to be put into place that give commuters options on how to get around. She said that she has heard many complaints about the toll announcement not only from her caucus and cabinet, but from “people who are struggling to pay their bills.”
She said people in Toronto and the GTA needs more public transit options and should be able to choose between a toll and non-toll road.
“So the conditions are not right, and that’s why we’ve made the decision,” Wynne said.
Originally Tory’s plan to toll the highways would generate an estimated $200 million every year.
To supplement this loss, the provincial government announced it is instead doubling the share of the provincial gasoline tax that goes to municipalities.
“The price that you pay at the pumps will not go up,” Wynne assured.
Toronto’s share would be close to $170 million per year.
Mayor Tory did not attend the announcement, but did respond to the premier’s statements. He claims that a gas tax share won’t cover existing and future transit needs.
He said: “The gas tax increase they have announced is less than what Toronto would have likely been able to raise on its own with a simple regulatory change…the gas tax increase is an important step but can’t be the only step…Simply put, Toronto is being forced to content with major issues like housing and roads and child care that previously had a greater funding participation by the government of Ontario and then told we are not able to take the responsibility we choose to take or take the measures we choose to take to address those financial needs. We are being denied any real ability to choose how we can pay for those things.”
The Ontario Trucking Association was in favor of Premier Wynne’s announcement to eliminate plans for tolling the DVP and Gardiner and instead doubling the share of gas tax.
“It took a while to agree on a more favorable resolution than tolls, but we think this works,” said 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.”