Toronto City Council candidate proposes "congestion fee" to drive downtown

Sep 15 2022, 5:40 pm

It may soon cost you to drive into downtown Toronto.

Rocco Achampong, a City Council candidate for Spadina-Fort York, is advocating for the creation of a “congestion fee” to address Toronto’s traffic problem.

“Spadina-Fort York has not only the highest population density, but also the highest usage of roads in the City of Toronto,” Achampong said in a statement announcing his plan.

“As a destination for work and play, residents incur smog, pollution, noise, diminished air quality, and dirty, congested streets.”

To remedy the situation, Achampong is proposing that anyone who doesn’t live, work, or own a business in the ward pay a congestion fee in order to access the area. Those that live or work in the neighbourhood would be exempt.

All revenue generated by the congestion fee would be used to “enhance and beautify” the ward by adding more green space, parks, and gardens, while also undertaking climate-friendly initiatives.

Achampong noted that congestion fees are in place in cities around the world, including London and Singapore, and pointed to a Swedish study that found congestion fees to be the most effective way for cities to curb car use.

“I’ve heard from residents and business owners of Spadina-Fort York loud and clear — they’re tired of the traffic congestion, noise, pollution, and dirty streets,” Achampong said.

“They want more green spaces and less concrete jungle. A congestion fee is how we can get there.”

While the residents Achampong consulted supported the idea, those on Twitter did not.

Many said the congestion fee would discourage people from visiting Toronto, leading to a negative impact on the economy with local businesses and tourism losing revenue.

Others said a more viable solution to keeping cars off the road would be to improve the TTC, and several accused the proposed fee of being a “cash grab.”

One user called implementing a fee during times of high inflation “cruel,” while another simply called the plan “a very bad idea.”

If — and how — a congestion fee is implemented will be decided when Toronto heads to the polls on October 24.

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