What about a legacy fund for Toronto transit expansion?
In the final lead-up to today's city council meeting on the fate of rapid transit for Sheppard Avenue East, a group of Scarborough councillors have put together a proposal to fund the Sheppard subway extension via revenue generated by a modest property tax increase (reportedly 1 per cent on an annual basis) and a parking levy, the specifics of which have yet to be disclosed.
Beyond merely funding subway expansion on Sheppard — though that would be the first priority — the proposal apparently calls for the creation of a legacy fund, the aim of which would be to raise $100 million earmarked for transit infrastructure each year for a century.
The Sun reports that as of late yesterday Rob Ford is not on board with the proposal. That's not particularly surprising given his campaign rhetoric about taxes and user fees, but it'll be interesting to see how other councillors respond to such an idea. Following the expert panel on rapid transit options for Sheppard, many left-leaning councillors are now sold on LRT for this corridor regardless of issues related to cost.
But what about the merits of this idea in the wider context of transit expansion in this city over the next 100 years. Could an unnecessary subway extension actually serve as the catalyst for Toronto to take control of its transit future? It sounds unlikely given the mayor's position and the divided opinion regarding what's best for Sheppard, but if we hope to accommodate our future population with adequate public transportation, a strategy like this will be a virtual necessity.
I've already made my case as to why I think that funding subway infrastructure on Sheppard is a waste of resources, but I'm at least intrigued by the fact that a legacy fund like this has entered the conversation. If only the talk centred around transit expansion that made more sense. It is, however, a start — and this is one discussion we should be having.
Photo by Ian Muttoo in the blogTO Flickr pool
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