John Tory defends SmartTrack plan on Metro Morning
Front-runner in mayor's race says he's the best one to bring senior governments on board
Toronto mayoralty front-runner John Tory appeared on CBC Radio's Metro Morning Wednesday, defending the funding formula of his transit plan and touting his ability to get senior governments to pick up their share of the tab.
His SmartTrack transit plan plan calls for 22 new "surface subway" stations to be built along existing GO Train lines over seven years.
Tory has estimated the plan will cost $8 billion to build, and he's counting on senior governments to each kick in a third.
Host Matt Galloway asked Tory how he'd pay for Smart Track if the provincial and federal governments don't participate.
"I have the relationships with both of those governments to go and get that money," said Tory. "There will be hell to pay for those governments if I'm the mayor of Toronto and they start saying they're not [paying]. I have no doubt about the provincial government and I'm going to work on the federal government, and I'm optimistic."
Will tax increment financing work in Toronto?
Tory's has said the city's share for Smart Track will come from tax increment financing, a funding mechanism that banks on future property tax increases the new transit line is expected to generate. Tory's people say this plan can conservatively generate $2.5 billion over 30 years.
Galloway questioned Tory about those numbers, pointing out that a similar scheme in New York has left taxpayers facing millions in financing costs. Tory maintained that the funding mechanism he's put forward is sound.
"Property taxpayers are not going to face any increases as a result for this," he said.
Tory frequently said he's the candidate best positioned to bring together senior governments to help pay for transit, affordable housing and infrastructure spending.
"Which candidate do they feel is going to be able to deal with both the Harper majority conservatives in Ottawa and the Wynne Liberal majority government at Queen's Park?"
On Thursday Olivia Chow will appear on Metro Morning to talk about her campaign. The former NDP MP is running second to Tory in published polls with voting day now less than six weeks away.