TORONTO, Ont.–The Toronto City Council has voted overwhelmingly in favour of Mayor John Tory’s call to introduce tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway. After the vote, the Ontario Trucking Association, which traditionally opposes the imposition of tolls on existing infrastructure and/or where the toll revenue is used for purposes other than road infrastructure, said that Toronto’s decision creates a “whole new ballgame” and expects other municipalities will be watching closely as they look to find solutions to their own fiscal challenges.
“Toronto has made its decision and we anticipate the provincial government will give the city the greenlight to implement the tolls,” says OTA president, Stephen Laskowski. “Our focus will now be on making sure future toll revenues are used to pay for the cost of the Gardiner reconstruction; that the collection and administration of the toll system uses the latest technology to maximize efficiency for both the road user and the city; uses variable pricing, including zero rating commercial vehicles during certain time periods, to encourage businesses to ship or receive goods during off-peak periods; and, that Toronto and any other municipalities thinking of introducing tolls coordinate their efforts so we don’t end up with a patchwork of toll collection systems.”
He also said there may be a role for the provincial government to help with coordination across various municipalities.
“Of course, we don’t like tolls. Who does? However, we acknowledge that sometimes and under certain conditions they could be the only way certain new highway infrastructure projects will ever get built,” says Laskowski. “So, if this is the road we are going down, let’s take the time to do it right so the burden on everyone is minimized.
“Because in the end all consumers of downtown services and goods will no doubt see prices rise as a result increased transportation costs related to the toll system.”
The Toronto toll system is not expected to be implemented until 2019 at the earliest and possibly as late as 2024.