Karen Stintz says Toronto should consider selling a majority stake in its power utility and use the revenue generated from that sale to help kickstart the first phase of a much-needed relief line for the city’s subway system.
The Ward 16 councillor and mayoral contender laid out her arguments on Monday for why she believes the city should put itself in a position to sell off a portion of Toronto Hydro.
"As the city has worked with Toronto Hydro to build infrastructure, the value of this asset has grown and it's now worth well over $1 billion," Stintz said.
"But the question is what is it worth to Toronto to own the entire thing?"
Stintz said that Toronto Hydro "operates in a very highly regulated environment," to the point where it is not able to set its own rates.
As a result, Stintz argues that even if the city sold off the utility, that shouldn't affect the rates.
"If we were to sell even a 51 per cent stake, everyone’s rates are protected, but we get to invest in transit," she said.
Stintz said that it’s a concept that has already been tested in Toronto, such as when the city sold its stake in Enwave.
"This not new and revolutionary, this is just a new idea that we need to start tackling and I’m looking forward to a robust debate about it," she said.
Stintz said that there’s a need to be "honest with taxpayers" about the kind of money that will be needed to spur subway development.
And the former TTC chair chose a symbolic spot to speak to reporters from — the corner of Gerrard Street East and Carlaw Avenue, a place that Stintz said could one day be a stop on a downtown relief line.
"I see and I know that great things are possible for this city and more and better transit is one of them and it’s exciting," Stintz said.
Just before answering questions, Stintz took a shot at her mayoral rivals and took particular aim at one of the most recently declared candidates.
"Some of my opponents, including Olivia Chow, think they come down from Ottawa and rip up the transit plans that can be approved," Stintz said.
"We need to move forward. We cannot afford to go back. We need to keep moving on the transit lines that have been funded and approved," Stintz said.
Chow and Stintz are just two of a handful of high-profile candidates seeking Mayor Rob Ford’s job this fall. Former Ontario PC leader John Tory, former city councillor David Soknacki and former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson are also pursuing mayoral bids.
In total, more than 40 people have filed papers to run for mayor.