On Tuesday, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals committed to spending $180 billion on infrastructure projects across the provinces over the next 12 years.
A day later, Toronto Mayor John Tory is wondering how much of it he can get hold of to fund SmartTrack and the other city transit projects that have been in the spotlight recently. The feds say $29 billion will be earmarked for transit projects across Canada.
On Wednesday, Tory hosted federal Minister of Infrastructure Amarjeet Sohi to try to gauge how much of that the city will receive.
“I hope that there is taken into account, not the usual kind of attitude that somehow says that Toronto should be penalized for being big,” said Tory. “But rather a recognition of the fact that in this city you have both the greatest opportunity to build Canada and to build a strong economy, but also some of the greatest challenges to move people around.”
Tory has shown his eagerness to get on with Toronto related transit projects in recent days, including a special emergency Executive Committee meeting which resulted in unanimous approval of SmartTrack infrastructure, light rail lines (LRT), and new Regional Express Rail stations.
The province and the city will share a $7-billion bill on the aforementioned transit projects, announced by the Mayor and Premier Kathleen Wynne during a visit to Queen’s Park on Tuesday.
As for the federal funding, City Council is expected to learn what Toronto’s cut is closer to March, when the Trudeau government rolls out its next budget.
Tory has statistics on his side, as Toronto’s population is expected to double in the next two decades.
On Tuesday, before the Executive Committee, Tory suggested the city could pay for transit projects by selling off some of its assets, including Toronto Hydro, the Toronto Parking Authority and other real estate. Another city study will determine the feasibility of selling assets.
A KPMG study from June, commissioned by the city, suggested potential revenue tools could be in the form of an alcohol tax, parking tax, entertainment tax, or possibly the retrieval of the former vehicle registration tax.
Tory remains adamant that funding should not come from a property tax hike, as suggested in a recent report by the city manager.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) November 2, 2016