Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said Friday that he would “absolutely” support a referendum on new taxes to pay for subways, but that he expects voters would soundly reject the idea.
“If people want to vote to have a new tax for subways, I listen to the residents. I listen to the taxpayers,” Mr. Ford told reporters.
“They don’t want that ... I could be wrong, I don’t think I am. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and I know what they want. They want subways, we can afford it, let’s do it. They don’t want to have an extra tax to pay for it.”
The mayor opened the door to a referendum on the day an advisory panel endorsed above-ground light-rail over subways in Scarborough. City council is set to decide March 21 on how best to extend public transit on Sheppard Avenue East.
Mr. Ford has sent mixed signals about his appetite for new taxes or revenue tools to fund subway construction.
He floated the idea of a parking levy in an op-ed in The Globe and Mail last month and he has indicated an openness to other revenue tools in private meetings with some of the centrist councillors whose support he’ll need to win next week’s vote.
But in public he has said his administration won’t implement any new taxes. He repeated that line Friday.
“No, I’m not increasing taxes. We have a billion dollars. We can... get a shovel in the ground, build at least two to three stations. Let’s stop, you know, talking about it and let’s start doing it.”