Tolls, fees could pay for Sheppard subway, report says
Road tolls, parking fees and other forms of taxation could be used to help pay for the Sheppard subway extension, a long-awaited report on the project's feasibility says.
Mayor Rob Ford, who is strongly pushing for new subways, has in the past flatly rejected tolls, but the report's author, Gordon Chong, said the money could be raised even without tolls.
"We've determined that with parking levies and a whole bunch of other things that you'll see when the report comes out in its full form, is the revenue financing tools that are there can cover the costs even without road tolls," Chong told reporters on Thursday.
The Toronto Star reported earlier in the day that the Chong report, which will be officially released in mid-February, says the project is feasible but only with fees and taxes.
Chong, a former city councillor and TTC commissioner, said the project won't cost anywhere near as much as first thought and described it as "a go."
"The essential message is that it's doable," he said. "It's not as expensive as the TTC had estimated."
Chong had pegged the cost of a Sheppard extension at $4.7 billion last summer, but said Thursday the financial community had told him there will be bids 10 to 20 per cent lower than that.
Chong said "jacking up" the Toronto Parking Authority's parking charges is reasonable given parking costs in private downtown buildings.
He also said the private sector is anxious to get involved.
Chong said he hopes that the struggle on council between those who prefer Ford's subway-focused transit plan and the previously approved Transit City can be put aside.
"If people really are interested in helping the under-served areas and the people who are vulnerable, as well as trying to get people out of their cars, why not give it a fair airing?"
Coun. Joe Mihevc was unimpressed.
"It is absolutely not feasible to raise that kind of money for Sheppard [subway]," he said. "There have been countless independent studies — not studies commissioned by someone who has a political agenda — that have said that it's not possible. You're going to need massive amounts of tax increases, development charge increases…It's just not the right way to treat Sheppard."
Ford will present Chong's report to his executive committee on Feb. 13.