A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[URBAN NOTE] “Wynne to halt Tory’s plans for road tolls on Gardiner, DVP”

This report in The Globe and Mail was a surprise to read last night. I have no idea as to how this will rebound onto politics in Toronto and wider Ontario.

In a stunning about-face, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will announce Friday that she will refuse to give Toronto permission to go ahead with Mayor John Tory’s plan to toll the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway.

Ms. Wynne, who is facing an election in 2018 and riding low in the polls, is expected to break the news at an event in Richmond Hill, Ont., on Friday morning, senior city hall and provincial government sources told The Globe and Mail. She had previously suggested she would not stand in the way of the city’s decision to impose tolls, approved by city council in December.

However, sources say Ms. Wynne will also announce an increase in the amount of the provincial gas tax that Ontario hands over to municipalities. One source says the new revenue could entail $170-million for Toronto to spend on public transit – close to the $200-million the city estimated the tolling plan would bring in. The gas-tax changes would also mean more revenue for municipalities across the province.

Mr. Tory sold his plan for tolls, in the range of $2 a trip, as a way to make drivers in Richmond Hill and others from around Toronto pay for the city’s two expressways, which are maintained by City of Toronto taxpayers and do not receive direct provincial funding.

The move is a blow to Mr. Tory, who until this disagreement appeared to have a good relationship with Ms. Wynne. Mr. Tory unveiled his toll proposal with fanfare in November, selling it as a bold plan to move the city forward. He acknowledged that he had reversed his previous position against tolls, which dated back to his run against David Miller for mayor in 2003. He is not scheduled to attend Ms. Wynne’s announcement Friday, but is set to address reporters at city hall afterward.

One person close to the mayor characterized his reaction as a mixture of surprise and disappointment.

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Written by Randy McDonald

January 27, 2017 at 9:30 pm

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