Metro Morning

Patrick Brown says Toronto road toll proposal will 'start a war of tolls' in the GTA

Patrick Brown said he's concerned Toronto Mayor John Tory's proposal for tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway will "start a war of tolls" across the GTA.

PC Leader blames Kathleen Wynne's government for Toronto's highway turmoil

Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown ignites fierce debate over Mayor John Tory's proposal to implement road tolls, blaming Premier Kathleen Wynne for the "mismanagement of infrastructure dollars." (CBC)

Patrick Brown said he's concerned Toronto Mayor John Tory's proposal for tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway will "start a war of tolls" across the GTA.  

Ontario's Progressive Conservative Leader said he wouldn't support the tolls if he was elected premier and urged Premier Kathleen Wynne to pull her support for them this week. Toronto owns the roads, but needs to seek clearance from Queen's Park to add tolls.

Brown, speaking on CBC Radio's Metro Morning, said he's concerned other municipalities may follow Toronto's lead.

"We've already heard the Mayor of Mississauga say she wants revenue now for anyone leaving the city going to the airport," he said. 

"You've heard 905 mayors say if you're going to charge people going into the city than they're going to charge people in Toronto leaving the city."

Tory wants to impose a toll of roughly $2 on the two major highways leading to Toronto's downtown core. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Tory announced his plan in November as Toronto grapples with how to pay for $33 billion worth of major transit and infrastructure projects.

Tory's motion to implement the road tolls — which could cost around $2 per trip — was approved by the city's executive committee on Dec. 1, although some councillors have already been suggesting changes to the plan, including a potential yearly cap on how much commuters will pay in tolls.

Brown blames Kathleen Wynne for Toronto's turmoil 

Brown said he isn't blaming Tory for considering the potential levy. Instead, he said Wynne and the provincial Liberal government is responsible for creating the conditions where Tory needs the revenue from tolls. 

"My beef is not with John Tory," said Brown. "I understand that the infrastructure dollars he thought were going to come to him from the province aren't reaching him because of the mismanagement of infrastructure dollars at the provincial level."

Brown said the tolls are an added cost commuters can't afford.

"We hear that families, commuters, everyone is really feeling the pinch... life is just becoming harder and more unaffordable," he said. 

The Tories launched the an online petition, Tuesday, urging the province to cut road tolls, and Brown will introduce a motion in the legislature to derail the proposal tomorrow.        


He told CBC Toronto's Metro Morning this is the "Liberal government's mistakes."

"We're building bridges and paying for them upside down," he said, referencing a finding from the recent auditor general's report.

"We're repaving asphalt every two years instead of 15 years, and Kathleen Wynne right now is saying quietly the City of Toronto, 'I'm sorry I've messed up how we've managed infrastructure in this province, but we're going to let it tax commuters instead to make up for our mistake.'"

Response from Toronto mayor and premier

Wynne responded to Brown's plan to put a road block in tolls yesterday in the legislature.  

Patrick Brown is trying to score cheap political points.- Amanda Galbraith, Tory's director of communication

"It's not surprising that the leader of the opposition — who has no plan for building transit, no plan for where the funding would come from and doesn't really seem to care about those investments — that he would be calling on us to take unilateral action against the city of Toronto," she said. "We're not going to do that," she said.    

Tory, who once led the provincial PCs, issued a statement accusing Brown of political posturing and using his stance on road tolls to win votes for the next provincial election in 2018.    

"If Patrick Brown is trying to score cheap political points in the 905 maybe he should've championed a plan to fix people's commutes in Toronto. He needs to explain to Toronto residents why he's happy to let them live in a city that can't afford to fight traffic or build transit," Tory's spokesperson, Amanda Galbraith, said in a statement.

Brown said he's not completely against road tolls, but said he is only open to using them to pay for new roads.

With files from Metro Morning