Premiere Kathleen Wynne has officially slammed the breaks on the City of Toronto’s toll proposals.
“The decision has been made,” Wynne said on Friday morning while speaking at York Region Transit’s Richmond Hill facility. Wynne was joined by Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, when they announced new investment for the City that did not include toll plans.
“As our communities grow, the work of building better transit has to accelerate. Service needs to constantly improve, because people need better, faster ways to get around,” Wynne said. “I’m pleased to announce that Ontario will be providing more transit funding to your community to improve your ride.”
Beginning in 2019, Ontario will be increasing funding for local transit through an enhancement to the current gas tax program. The government will be doubling the municipal share from two cents per litre to four cents by 2021.
“This is not an increase in gas tax. This is the existing gas tax and we are doubling that share,” Wynne said.
There will be no impact on the price of gas to commuters, and Wynne said that this was the affordable option for Ontario residents.
Wynne said the Province has been working with the municipality, but conditions were not met for tolling.
“I said that we would work with any municipality, and in all my conversations with Mayor [John] Tory, I talked about the need for options and I’ve talked about timing right from the beginning of this process. I’ve talked about those conditions that needed to be in place,” she said.
Just over a month ago, Mayor Tory’s proposed plans to impose toll roads on the DVP and Gardiner Expressway was backed, 32 to 9, in a city council vote.
In advance to Wynne’s rejection of the Toronto tolls, Tory released a statement on Thursday evening.
Last month, the Mayor and Toronto City Council sent a very clear message: We have a plan to make much-needed investments in transit that will help fix traffic congestion in Toronto and throughout the region.
By introducing tolls on the Gardiner and DVP and asking everyone to pay their fair share for the roads they use, the City of Toronto could raise up to $300 million each year that would be directly invested in transportation and transit expansion projects, easing the financial pressures the city faces while creating room to fund other priorities.
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.
This year, the province has committed $334.5 million in gas tax funding to 99 municipalities across Ontario. The City of Toronto’s allocation is just over $170 million.