Ontario premier rebuffs toll plans for Toronto highways

By Land Line staff | Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The leader of the provincial government in Ontario has put the kibosh on a plan to toll two highways in Toronto.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne denied a request from Toronto Mayor John Tory to impose a $2 toll per trip on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway leading into the city’s downtown. The plan was expected to raise more than $200 million annually, which was to have been dedicated exclusively to transit and transportation initiatives. The proposal was shot down amid concerns from the provincial government that there weren’t enough viable transit options for commuters to use to avoid the tolls.

“I know that people are having a hard time keeping up with the rising cost of living,” Wynne said during a press conference on Jan. 27 to announce her decision. “We need to make sure that investing in transit isn’t costing you more money. We recognize that commuters need to have reliable transit options in place before revenue-generating measures like road tolls are implemented.”

Instead of toll revenue, Wynne announced that the provincial government will be increasing funds for transit projects in the form of a gas tax enrichment aimed at giving local governments a bigger slice of the revenue pie. Starting in 2019, the share of gas tax that goes to municipalities will increase from 2 cents per liter to 4 cents per liter by 2021. The move will be made without an increase in the tax that drivers pay at the pump.

About 228,000 vehicles travel on the Gardiner east of Highway 427 on a daily basis while about 100,000 drive on the DVP. Both roadways made an appearance near the top of the list of worst traffic bottlenecks in Canada, according to a report released last month by the Canadian Automobile Association. A section of the Don Valley Parkway between Don Mills Road and Finch Ave. was the second-most congested stretch of roadway in the nation, per CAA’s report, while the Gardiner Expressway between S. Kingsway and Bay Street checked in as the fourth-most congested.

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