Provincial budget 'has to help Toronto,' Tory says after meeting with Sousa
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Monday, March 13, 2017 2:22PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 13, 2017 2:23PM EDT
Mayor John Tory says he has made it clear to the province’s finance minister that the upcoming provincial budget “has to help Toronto” address its growing transit and housing needs.
Speaking to reporters following a meeting with Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa at city hall Monday, Tory said there is “no question” that the city’s relationship with the province was “significantly impacted” when the provincial government refused to allow Toronto to implement road tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway.
“The relationship won’ t get back to business as usual until we can find ourselves in a position to satisfy the needs of the three million people… that call Toronto home,” Tory said.
“Today, in my meeting with the minister, I stressed that his upcoming budget has to help Toronto.”
Tory said as the “economic powerhouse” of Ontario, Toronto “needs investment right now.”
“We need a better deal with the province when it comes to transit, when it comes to housing and when it comes to the regional highways that we fund entirely and when it comes to the economic potential of the city’s waterfront,” he said.
The mayor added that he is looking for both the province and the federal government to be partners when it comes to future transit projects in the city.
“We are expecting to receive additional funding allocations from the federal transit infrastructure fund in the coming days and we need provincial funding to match the federal funding and our own contribution if we going to get done projects like the relief line, the Eglinton East LRT and waterfront transit,” Tory said.
“On housing, we are asking the province to fund its share, namely $864 million or thereabouts… of the multi-billion dollar repair backlog that we’ve seen in existence for some time now.”
Tory said the closure of any social housing units in Toronto would be a “direct result of the inaction of the other governments.”
“The housing was dropped on the city’s doorstep after years of neglect by other levels of government with no plan and no money to keep those housing units in a state of good repair and without real action by the other levels of government, we are going to be in a position where having exhausted the ability to put up more money on our own, we would have to look at closing some of those units,” he said.
In addition to affordable housing, transit and roads, Tory said the two discussed soaring housing prices in the city, the Gardiner rehabilitation project and the need for Port Lands flood protection work and waterfront redevelopment.
The mayor made a point to say that he plans to meet with the leaders of other political parties in Ontario to discuss Toronto's needs.
“I’m going to do what I have to do in advance of an election that is forthcoming in Ontario and ... sit down with the leaders of all of the provincial political parties and canvass them for their ideas and their commitments to the future wellbeing of the city of Toronto," Tory said.
In response to Tory’s comments, Sousa said his government “values” a strong Toronto.
“The mayor has done an excellent job in expressing the concerns and demands of the city, a growing city,” Sousa said.
“I acknowledge that the partnership necessary with the Toronto area is crucial.”
Sousa added that his government will continue to try to work with the mayor and city council to address some of Toronto’s pressing needs.
“In order to sustain growth in the region, we have to have predictable and sustainable funding. The mayor has made that clear to me and he has made that clear to the premier and we understand that,” Sousa said.
“We are trying to make that clear to the federal government in terms of having that fiscal imbalance supported because just as Toronto requires support, the rest of the province of Ontario requires it too.”