Councillor suggests road tolls on the Gardiner — but only for some

A Toronto councillor wants to revive the debate around putting tolls on the Gardiner Expressway, only with a twist: the fee to drive on the elevated expressway is only levied against non-Torontonians.

Only non-residents of Toronto would pay

A Toronto councillor says the city should think about implementing a toll on the Gardiner that only out-of-town drivers would pay. 2:13

A Toronto councillor wants to revive the debate around putting tolls on the Gardiner Expressway, only with a new twist: the fee to drive on the elevated expressway would only be levied against non-Torontonians.

James Pasternak, a councillor for Ward 10 in the north end of the city, is raising a "hybrid" solution of tolls that only out-of-town motorists who use the roadway would have to pay.

Tolls on the Gardiner Expressway have been debated for decades, including during John Tory's first run for mayor in 2003. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

"Many municipalities have revenue sources from non-residents like car rental and hotel (taxes), and non-resident toll fees are in discussion across North America," said the councillor.

Pasternak pointed to what each municipality in the Greater Toronto Area pays for maintenance and repair for shared roadways like the Gardiner. He called the share of money that Toronto pays "grossly unfair" compared to its neighbours.

"I think chipping in a little...a couple of bucks here and there...is a reasonable request," said Pasternak.

He also said he does not want to see transportation money earmarked for Toronto to be spent on an expressway also used by people who live outside the city.

"If you are going to take those transportation dollars out of our local communities and put them on the Gardiner for non-residents," he said, "you are going to have all kind of fiscal challenges going forward."

Council opposition

Pasternak is already facing opposition to the idea. Other councillors have questioned why only non-residents should have to pay, given the expressway is open to all, and also whether it would dissuade people from coming downtown.

Mayor John Tory famously campaigned against road tolls on his first run for mayor in 2003, saying they would cause chaos in residential roads motorists would inevitably use as detours and drive business away from the city.

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