congestion fee

There's a now a proposal to start charging non-local drivers for entering downtown Toronto

While it's lovely to see Toronto businesses, green spaces, streets and sidewalks teeming with people again post-lockdown, there is always some level of frustration from locals when an influx of out-of-towners makes it harder to enjoy their regular spots or even get around the city.

Regardless of whether you drive, gridlock and congestion is no fun, slowing down transit vehicles, producing more noise and emissions, and worse (not to mention the inability for people to find parking in their own area on busy tourist days).

One candidate for city council has this week suggested a new solution to high traffic levels downtown that has spurred a ton of discussion on social media.

Noting the "dirty, congested streets" of the downtown core, Spadina—Fort York candidate Rocco Achampong is championing a new fee specifically for non-Torontonians who want to drive into the city to take advantage of all of the events, food, nightlife and more that we have to offer.

"Traffic & congestion is the biggest ward-wide issue in Spadina—Fort York. We must have practical solutions to practical problems. I am calling for a congestion fee!" he tweeted on Wednesday.

Achampong states in his appeal that the concept is already in place in many large cities worldwide, including London, Stockholm and Milan, with others, like Vancouver and New York City, also seriously considering it.

While some residents seem very much on board with the idea — "as a driver who doesn't live downtown and would have to pay those tolls, DO IT," one person wrote on a popular Reddit thread about the proposal — others are concerned about the obvious economic impact it would have.

While it is appealing to those who hate their neighbourhood overrun by motorists coming into town to visit for the day, the logic behind it, some point out, is not exactly sound or in the best interest of the city at large.

"Completely out of touch. The only reason non-locals come to these areas is to conduct business that requires them to be in the ward," one person noted on Twitter.

"Your practical solution is to exclude people who attend the city's many amenities, most of which those same taxpayers already paid to build? I hope your platform factors in the economic impact of losing events to suburban venues," another added.

And then there was the point, "You want to charge money to people who work downtown, and maybe struggling to make ends meet already, but don't live there?"

Many instead suggested that the focus instead be on bettering public transit so people don't have to drive as much, and on creating complete communities outside of the city limits that are more walkable, with better transit and amenities so that the city isn't the only functional area.

And, quite a few outside the city are saying that if such a fee was introduced, they wouldn't be spending their time and money here anymore.

Though there aren't many people running for City Council this election, the ones who are have been coming up with some pretty unique and innovative ideas, including a pedestrian bridge to the Toronto Islands.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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