Mayor Tory decries 'short-sighted' road-toll rejection by province

Toronto Mayor John Tory said Friday that the Ontario government's plan to increase municipalities' share of the provincial gas tax will not deliver enough money to cover the city's growing transit needs.

Tory says plan to double gas-tax share for cities won't be enough to meet Toronto's growing transit needs

Mayor John Tory said he's 'frustrated' by the province's decision to block road tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, which could have netted the city some $200 million a year. (John Rieti/CBC)

Mayor John Tory's frustration boiled over at city hall Friday as he spoke about the province's decision to block road tolls on two major highways.

Tory blasted Premier Kathleen Wynne's rejection of tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, calling the move "short-sighted" and "not right."

The mayor said he's tired of Queen's Park treating him like a "little boy in short pants," when he's trying to to secure money to pay for billions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects.

Tory did welcome the government's plan to increase municipalities' share of the provincial gas tax, but said doubling the amount the city currently gets won't cover the city's growing transit needs.

Tory said the lack of future toll revenue won't change any current infrastructure projects that are in the works.

Following the meeting, Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong and Coun. John Campbell blasted Wynne's government, saying it killed the tolls because there's a provincial election looming.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said drivers in his Don Mills-area ward will be pleased to see the road tolls axed, but he's not happy with how the province did it. (John Rieti/CBC)

Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat was also disappointed, and said the tolls would have been an important public policy step. 

"This is extremely frustrating, but you know, we've had setbacks before and we'll figure out a way to get it done," she said.

If the province changes its mind, Tory said the city still has the ability to toll the highways in the future. 

His plan to toll the hyper-busy highways made headlines across the country when he announced the proposal at the end of last year. The plan was expected to generate some $200 million a year to spend on transit infrastructure and highway repairs.

But earlier Friday, Wynne said she won't support the tolls because Toronto lacks "reliable transit options."

Both provincial opposition parties criticized Tory's plan when he announced it. 

New gas tax money will be good for TTC, chair says

TTC Chair Josh Colle welcomed the new gas tax money and said it will make a significant, positive difference for the city's transit system.

But he also criticized Wynne's move.

"It is unfortunate that our partners at the province denied city council's request for a regulatory change to allow the City of Toronto to manage its own assets," he said in an emailed statement.

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