Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has made it clear to Ontario’s new Premier where he stands on transit funding, telling Kathleen Wynne he is “adamantly” opposed to new taxes or tolls.
How to pay for the upkeep and expansion of Toronto’s aging infrastructure and transit system is a top priority for Ms. Wynne, who was sworn in as Premier on Monday. While both the province and the city are holding consultations to gauge public support for a range of new revenue sources, Mr. Ford indicated Friday he is not swaying from his long-time opposition to new fees, sending that message to Ms. Wynne in a brief phone call.
“If the province puts it through, that’s up to them,” Mr. Ford told reporters. “I talked to Premier Wynne last week, told her adamantly I’m opposed to tolls. And she said we agree to disagree, which is fine.”
The provincial transit agency for the Toronto region, Metrolinx, is expected to make recommendations on funding tools in June and the city is also considering its options.
Mr. Ford said he knows where Toronto residents stand.
“People don’t want a tax increase, it’s simple,” he said, adding later, “She has to look at all the options, but I’m not going to implement a new tax, I’m not going to implement tolls on the people of the city.”
The mayor said he also is opposed to reviving the plans to take down the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway. Keeping the crumbling raised highway safe for drivers is expected to cost the city about half a billion dollars over the next decade. “Not while I’m mayor, I’m not going to be tearing down the Gardiner, that’s for sure,” Mr. Ford said.
Mr. Ford, who came to office with a pledge to end what he called the city’s “war on the car,” made his remarks after a quick tour of the Canadian International Autoshow. The mayor – who has refused repeated requests to use a driver – spent some time behind the wheel of two luxury cars: a red McLaren 12C Spider that goes for $360,000; and a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, to which he took a special shine.
“I’d like to take that to a tailgate party,” he said after he was shown the wood-paneled cooler in the trunk.
“It’s beautiful, but I’ve got to come up with 571 grand, that’s the problem,” he told reporters.