Calls for Ottawa to help fund Toronto infrastructure repairs

Toronto needs Ottawa's continuing help if it is to have any hope of repairing its crumbling infrastructure, says NDP MP Olivia Chow and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Repairs to Toronto's Gardiner Expressway are estimated to cost $20 million per year. (CBC)

There are a growing number of groups demanding that the federal government pony up more money to fix the crumbling infrastructure in Toronto.

The city's roads, sewers and bridges are aging rapidly with many needing costly repairs or replacing.

The Toronto Board of Trade estimates that traffic gridlock alone costs $6 billion in lost in productivity every year.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities says Ottawa needs to keep investing in the future be funding the infrastructure projects.

"It's time we started planning in decades, not just years," said FCM president Karen Leibovici, speaking at a news conference in Vancouver. "And that is the surest way to end the short-term thinking that allowed our infrastructure deficit to grow in the first place."

In an attempt to draw average Canadian into the discussion over infrastructure the FCM has developed The Great Canadian Infrastructure Challenge, an interactive website.

Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow also thinks it's time for the federal government to reinvigorate its infrastructure program  — especially since it's existing plan expires in two years.

If nothing happens "we will continue to spend 36 days per year waiting and being stuck in traffic," Chow said during a Toronto appearance.  "That's why we must invest in infrastructure, and do it in a way that is fair, accountable and long-term,"

For the City of Toronto it will mean spending millions. 

One of the most pressing issues for council is repairing the Gardiner Expressway, which is expected to cost about $20 million per year.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong uses another example of just one cost attached to speeding up traffic.

"Right now we have pads underneath the road that monitor traffic and actually change the signalization," Minnan-Wong told CBC News. "We need to update that.  That's going to be in the tens of millions of dollars," he said.