Mayoral candidates Chow and Stintz unveil plans to fund transit
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, April 29, 2014 12:16PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 29, 2014 10:48PM EDT
Two mayoral candidates have broken their relative silence on how to pay for transit expansion in the city.
In appearances separated by mere hours on Tuesday, Olivia Chow and Karen Stintz both laid out their vision for how they will fund major transit priorities like the downtown relief line if elected.
Chow’s plan, which was announced during a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade, would see the city cancel the planned extension of the Bloor-Danforth line into Scarborough and instead build a less expensive light rail transit line, using the previously approved property tax hike along with investments from the federal and provincial governments to help fund additional transit priorities.
“It’s a specific commitment to operate, repair and build transit,” Chow said, noting that she hoped the plan would generate $1 billion to fund repairs to existing TTC infrastructure and get the ball rolling on a downtown relief line. “I hope our city’s willingness to invest in our needs will bring Ottawa and Queen’s Park to the table. We have to get people moving faster, by fixing and improving existing service and building new service.”
While Chow’s plan hinged largely on looking for money from outside sources, Stintz’s plan called on the city to look internally for the money needed for transit expansion.
The plan, which was unveiled at a morning news conferences, calls for the creation of a $1.6 billion dedicated fund to help fund transit improvements.
According to Stintz, the dedicated fund would be raised over the next 15 years through the sale of 51 per cent of the city’s Toronto Hydro shares ($700 million), the dedication of revenues from traffic enforcement operations ($330 million) and the Toronto Parking Authority ($700 million) as well as the creation of a $3 levy in downtown parking garages owned by the city ($114 million).
“Using different ways of reallocating revenue or selling assets to make fighting congestion a priority will help focus council and make sure we are dealing with the number one issue facing residents today,” Stintz told CP24, shortly after revealing the plan. “Whether it is small business, large business, commuters or moms, the number one thing they are dealing with every day is congestion. Fighting congestion needs to be our number one priority.”
Stintz and Chow have both made funding the estimated $3.2 billion downtown relief line a major element of her campaign, though the former TTC chair told CP24 that her plan would extend far beyond just building underground transit.
“The priority has to be dealing with congestion, so I want to put forward a 15-year plan that makes it possible to invest in the downtown relief line, to fix the potholes, to fix the Gardiner and to deal with congestion,” Stintz said. “It is a long-term plan because it is not a short-term fix.”
Fellow mayoral candidates John Tory, David Soknacki and Sarah Thomson have also voiced their support for the downtown relief line, though only Thomson — who has called for the introduction of road tolls — had previously offered specifics on how to pay for it.
The announcement of Stintz’s and Chow’s plans coincide with the release of a University of Waterloo study which found that Torontonians spend an average of 65 minutes commuting each day.
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