Yesterday’s heated debate about the future of the Expressway raised some valid questions on whether or not non-residents should be tolled for using the DVP and Gardiner. Coucillor James Pasternak, who suggested the idea, argued “Torontonians (already) pay their fair share through the property tax base, we shouldn’t be going to them for more.”
He added that tolls would significantly decrease congestion and the pressure on Toronto’s tax base. Costs adding up to $50 million a year for repairs alone, $461 million for tearing down the Gardiner and $919 million for building a hybrid option make these initiatives impossible without finding “a source of revenue outside the tax base.”
He further stated, “I consider it somewhat historically unfair that if you go north of the 401 and take the 404 that’s a provincially serviced and maintained highway, if you go south of the 401 on the Don Valley Parkway all of a sudden that becomes a municipal responsibility,” the York Centre (Ward 10) councillor said. “Same with the QEW. Why is it the (provincially-owned) QEW through Mississauga and … all of a sudden, it becomes the Gardiner when it hits Toronto. These are grossly unfair policies and they have to be revisited.”
This isn’t the first time tolls have been mentioned, though. The argument has been on the tables for many years now. In 2008, Councillor Shelley Carroll argued against tolls as she estimated that it would cost $300 million to implement the idea on the Gardiner, DVP, Hwy. 401 and Hwy. 427.
“It’s a very expensive proposition. You could only do it in partnership with the province and what we prefer to partner with the province on now is transit because that is what Torontonians and residents of the GTA are telling us they want,” Carroll said.
Councillor John Campbell stated similar thoughts as he stated:
“I don’t see why all residents and all users of the highway shouldn’t be paying for it, the Gardiner is a serious cash burden on the city. It is going to be an ongoing burden for as long as the road is in play and whether you’re coming from Peel, Durham, York or you’re from the City of Toronto, if you’re using the road, you’re causing wear-and-tear on the road.”
Join Transit Alliance for The Big Debate next month as Diane Francis, Jennifer Keesmaat, Bruce McCuaig, and others further discuss the future of the Gardiner Expressway, as well transit operations and infrastructure expansion.