The Ontario government won't commit to a timeline when it comes to implementing road tolls or other levies that would be used to pay for badly-needed repairs to Ontario's crumbling bridges and roads.
Premier Kathleen Wynne hinted at the possibility of road tolls and other new revenue streams Monday, when she said that the province needs a dedicated fund in order to pay for the cost of maintaining and repairing Ontario's vast network of roads and bridges.
Kitchener Centre Liberal MPP John Milloy told host Craig Norris on The Morning Edition Wednesday that Wynne was only trying to start what he called an "adult conversation" about how the province will pay for its burgeoning infrastructure costs.
"We're going to need tens of billions of dollars to update infrastructure and it's not just the GTA: [it's] in our region and across the province," he said.
Milloy said that tolls are just one among "dozens" of possible ways of generating revenue in order to pay for infrastructure. But the government will not reveal how it would pay for a dedicated provincial infrastructure fund until after provincial transit agency Metrolinx unveils its transit investment startegy report on June 27th.
"I think this early in the game when we're expecting his report from Metrolinx, I think toward the end of June, it's hard to say what it's going to look like. I think what's happened is the word 'toll' has become symbolic for a whole variety of possibilities," he said.
"All of them are being looked at by Metrolinx."
Transportation system has 'hidden cost'
Meanwhile, Waterloo Region Chair Ken Sieling said while there are no plans to implement tolls in the region in the near future, they could be a game-changer when it comes to creating viable alternatives to the automobile for commuters.
"You have an urban forum that’s based on the car," Waterloo Region Chair Ken Sieling said Wednesday.
"So much of our transportation system has hidden cost to it. As long as they’re hidden and masked, people don’t appreciate them. People don’t take them into the equation when saying ‘which is the most economical way for me to travel.’"
Sieling said more money is needed in order to make alternatives a reality. However, the regional chair says, a conversation needs to take place between the province and municipalities about how to share the responsibility of raising revenues and the burden of paying the costs.
"I think we have to have the kind of discussion where we decide, what is the provincial role and what is the local role and what tools are made available," he said. "I think one of the things the province can do is give tools and leave it to the local municipality to say, do we want to apply those tools or not?"