Jan 27, 2017

By Jane Brown

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It’s a surprising about-face from Ontario’s Premier. Kathleen Wynne is expected to announce this morning in Richmond Hill that she will refuse to give the City of Toronto permission to go ahead with Mayor John Tory’s plan to toll the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway.

Last month, Wynne said it’s a good thing for municipalities to have discussions about finding tools to raise revenue to fund transit. But the premier is facing an election next year, while sitting at an historically low approval rating of around 15-percent. Rather than anger 905 voters who use Toronto’s highways, Wynne is said to be ready to announce an increase in the amount of the provincial gas tax that Ontario hands over to municipalities.

TTC chair Josh Colle says it appears Wynne has been pressured into providing more funding because of Toronto council’s forward thinking.

“Anytime we get new funding and we get new transit funding, it’s a good news story. I think we can all realize that this is only happening now because of the leadership of the mayor and pressure of city council that we put forward by taking the actions that we did. What this means long term is still hard to say because I’m still trying to figure out the actual news,” Colle told CP24 this morning ahead of Wynne’s announcement.

The Mayor sold his plan for tolls in the range of $2 a trip as a way to make drivers in the 905 area pay for the city’s two expressways, which are maintained by Toronto taxpayers and do not receive direct provincial funding.

John Tory’s office issued a statement last night, saying “if the Ontario government has decided to deny a regulatory change requested by the overwhelming majority of city council, the mayor would expect the provincial government to take serious and immediate action to address the city’s transit, transportation, childcare and housing needs.”

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