gardiner tolls

Toronto might start to toll the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway

Toronto is once again considering implementing tolls on the two major highways leading into and out of the city to the north and west, with Ward 6 York Centre City Councillor James Pasternack presenting such a motion at a council meeting on Tuesday.

Pasternack proposed that the City approach the provincial government to determine if they would be open to lending the necessary regulatory and statuatory approvals for Toronto to move forward with adding tolls to the Gardiner and the DVP, which he termed a "user fee" for drivers, to serve as a new revenue stream and help recoup a massive deficit.

"When it comes to revenue tools, tolls is really one of the only ones left on the table. A $4 toll is worth $275 million a year to the city" he told fellow councillors in the virtual meeting.

The option has been discussed in the past, and led by Mayor John Tory, council actually approved moving ahead with the idea in late 2016, with the goal of using the money from the tolls to maintain roads and to help finance things like severely-underfunded TTC.

An intentional or unintentional side effect would be that tolls encourage drivers to carpool or use other, more eco-friendly methods of transportion, reducing traffic congestion and benefitting the environment.

The motion was nixed by then-Premier Kathleen Wynne, who said she would be instead support an increase in gas costs, in part because she felt new fees on the thoroughfares would have led to an unmanageable spike in ridership on local public transit.

Other concerns, such as the tolls proving to be a barrier to people wanting to come into the city from surrounding boroughs, was brought up in today's meeting by councillors like Stephen Holyday of Ward 2 Etobicoke Center, to which Pasternack replied "If someone is going downtown, I'm not sure they're going to cancel their plans for $4."

Though details like a pricing structure were never confirmed back when they almost became a reality in 2016, it would have taken a $1.40 toll at the time, per the Star, to cover infrastructure costs and the cost of tolling over three decades.

Pasternack proposes either a $4 or $2 toll, though this would be decided at a later date.

If the tolls had been fully approved back in 2016, they wouldn't have kicked in until three years later, and it would have taken until 2024 to fully introduce them — meaning that if they get approved this time around, it will still be years before drivers will actually be affected.

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