Metro Morning

Tory wants to keep Toronto Hydro 'in public hands,' but explore options

Toronto Mayor John Tory appeared on Metro Morning today, one day after he hinted that the city may have to look at "unlocking the value" in Toronto Hydro, a utility the city has owned for a century.

Mayor's speech talked about 'unlocking' value in Toronto Hydro

Mayor John Tory said the infrastructure needs at Toronto Hydro have to be addressed. 'They will not be able to continue to pay us that dividend if they have to take that money and put it into their plants.' (CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory says city staff should continue to explore ways to "unlock" value in Toronto Hydro even though he admonished mayoral candidate Karen Stintz for suggesting in 2014 that the public utility should be sold off.

Tory made the comments on Metro Morning Thursday, one day after he made a keynote speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade saying the city must look at new ways to raise money to address growing budget pressures and infrastructure needs.

Tory told the Board of Trade audience he's directed city staff to "examine the whole question of how Toronto Hydro is structured and financed." The mayor said the city will also look at its parking and real estate assets "which may present opportunities to help with city bulding."

During his interview with Tory this morning, host Matt Galloway played a clip in which Tory told Stintz during a televised debate that the selling of Toronto Hydro — which the city has owned for more than a century and brings in $60 million in annual revenue — is something "I would not do."

Today Tory pointed out there is currently no specific proposal on the table to sell any stake of Toronto Hydro. He also said he remains committed to keeping the utility "in public hands."

"I am in support of the city council's majority vote to explore ways to unlock value [in Toronto Hydro] ... and keep the utility in public hands," said Tory. 

He said the city must look at all options when it comes to paying for upgrades to the hydro grid, which he said is failing too frequently. 

"If you don't want to have power failures that strand people in their condos … then there's going to be ways we're going to have to pay for that," he said. 

He also said the city would be able to rely on revenue from Toronto Hydro, if its grid is in need of constant repair. 

"The city needs to have that continuing dividend but the hydro also needs to invest hundreds of millions in their plants so they don't have power failures," he said. 

But while Tory fell short of calling for a sell-off of Toronto Hydro, even raising the issue has proven very controversial. The province's move to sell off Hydro One has triggered widespread opposition.

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