PUBLIC INTEREST SHOULD GOVERN CITY RESPONSE TO PROVINCE’S $5 BILLION OFFER
TORONTO — August 30, 2018: In a press conference to set out her Network Transit Plan today, Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat said the Mayor of Toronto needs to lead, not follow, on transit issues in the city — including on the issue of the proposed $5 billion “upload” from the Government of Ontario.
“The City of Toronto suffered from a massive downloading of costs,” Keesmaat said. “Ontario should indeed take some of this fiscal pressure off the City. But Toronto must continue to manage and control our transit planning and our transit system.”
Keesmaat said that the new $5 billion investment pledge for subway construction in Toronto will be a significant contribution from the province, as the City gets back to work on projects that are urgently needed to complete Toronto’s Network Transit Plan, after a period of chaos and distraction.
“However, it just isn’t good enough for John Tory to say that we’ll have to wait for the province to tell us what this is going to look like”, Keesmaat said. “The Mayor of Toronto needs to stand up for Toronto and for the public interest.”
Keesmaat outlined three principles Toronto should uphold in discussions about this new contribution from the Government of Ontario:
- First, no project under this initiative should proceed without a green light from the Mayor of Toronto and City Council, since Toronto will continue to operate the TTC. “We have to be sure the detailed plans work for the system as a whole”, she said.
- Second, the TTC must remain publicly-owned. “It is already difficult to raise the capital we need for our transit network. We must not waste public funds or introduce still more complexity and rigidity by bringing in additional partners who are looking for profits. Our transit investments must be about serving the people of Toronto.”
Third, the TTC must continue to collect all revenue from a single fare and operate the whole network. “We can’t have two separate transit systems running on top of each other in Toronto”, she said.
BACKGROUNDER – $5 BILLION OFFER FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO
During the provincial election in June 2018 the Ontario Progressive Conservatives released the following commitment as part of their platform:
“Upload responsibility for subway infrastructure, including the building and maintenance of new and existing subway lines, from the City of Toronto to the Province. Add $5 billion in new subway funding to the $9 billion already available to build the Sheppard Loop with Scarborough, the Relief Line, and the Yonge Extension while building future crosstown expansions underground. Keep responsibility for day-to-day operations, including labour relations, with the City of Toronto along with a guarantee that the City will continue to keep all revenue generated by the subway system.”