ON: Mayor Won't Support Tolls to Fund Sheppard; Councillor Ford Says Subway Extension Fees 'Not Going to Happen'

May 31, 2011
Mayor Rob Ford will not support road tolls to fund the extension of the Sheppard subway line, Councillor Doug Ford said Monday.

Mayor Rob Ford will not support road tolls to fund the extension of the Sheppard subway line, Councillor Doug Ford said Monday.

The mayor pronounced himself "totally opposed" to road tolls during his campaign. But Gordon Chong, the Ford ally appointed to develop the business case for the 13-kilometre extension, said last week that tolls may be among the revenue-generating tools needed to raise the $4 billion.

Rob Ford's office did not respond to a request for comment Monday. Doug Ford, the mayor's brother and close adviser, said emphatically that "road tolls are not going to happen."

The city would require provincial approval to impose tolls. Doug Ford said Chong's job is "to look at all the options," and those options may go before council. But council will not accept tolls, Ford said.

The mayor seeks to pay for the extension via a public-private partnership. He has not explained, however, how he believes such an arrangement would work or how much corporate money it could generate. A consulting firm is being hired to develop a proposal.

Ford's left-leaning council critics say he erred in opting out of the Transit City light rail plan, which the provincial government committed to pay for, in favour of an unfunded subway scheme.

The city hopes the federal and provincial governments will provide some of the money for the extension. It is applying for cash from a federal infrastructure fund. But that fund contains only $1.2 billion for all of Canada.

Chong said all possible revenue sources "should be on the table," including a congestion fee like the one in London, England. London raised $238 million in 2009-10 by charging drivers about $13 a day to travel downtown. But Ford also ruled out congestion fees during his campaign.

Another potential funding source, charges levied on each unit in a new residential development, would likely amount to a drop in the Sheppard bucket. Though Ford is banking on a building boom along the new line, development charges - currently $5,823 on a one-bedroom condominium - generated only $90 million city-wide last year.

"Development charges are not going to pay for a subway," said Councillor Peter Milczyn.

The city plans to reap millions in higher taxes from landowners whose properties surge in value because they are near new Sheppard stations. The body Chong leads, Toronto Transit Infrastructure Ltd., assumes such "tax increment" money from properties near the new Eglinton light rail line could be used for the Sheppard extension.

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