Mayor Rob Ford says developers want subways. But who will pay?

Item date: 
February 29, 2012
Item context: 

Seems incredible that Mayor Ford is now talking tolls -- but we predicted he would do this back in December 2010. However, we remain convinced that Toronto implement a road pricing system in partnership with Metrolinx so it is regionally coordinated. See our reasoning in our recent letter published in The Globe and Mail

By ROBYN DOOLITTLE

A group of influential Toronto developers will come together early next week to discuss ways it can help Mayor Rob Ford build a subway along Sheppard Ave. But the one option that’s absolutely off the table for them is the thing Ford needs most.

“We will not support increased development charges,” said one prominent developer who, along with about 20 other industry players, gathered for a hastily called lunchtime meeting with the mayor. “The industry supports subways (but) the mayor can not build them on the backs of the development industry and future home buyers.”

The declaration is the latest blow for Ford, who is scrambling to save his subway expansion plan. The mayor has just two weeks to come up with a concrete business plan to build the Sheppard line. On March 15, council will decide on a final strategy for the type of transit it wants along the north Toronto corridor.

Last week, the mayor opened the door to revenue tools such as parking levies, development fees and tax increment financing — which leverages future revenues from increased property values in areas with expanded transit.

His preference is the latter two.

But the builder community isn’t having it...

Those in the room said the mayor read off the potential revenue tools to build Sheppard that were included in the Chong report — such as road tolls, parking levies and a vehicle tax — but that there was no discussion on the items.

Increasingly desperate to fulfill his 2010 campaign promise to build subways, Ford has talked to councillors in recent days about road tolls, levies on parking spots, a special sales tax and even a $100 vehicle registration tax. One of Ford’s first victories on council was abolishing David Miller’s $60 car tax...

Last Wednesday, Ford invited centrist councillors Mary-Margaret McMahon and Ana Bailão to his office asking for a “fresh start with Sheppard,” McMahon said.

The meeting centred on funding options for a Sheppard subway, she said, with Ford asking their views on a special sales tax, parking levies and road tolls, if they were needed in addition to development charges, tax-increment financing and federal funding.

“I was surprised that he was suggesting those things — I’m thrilled the words ‘road tolls’ even rolled off his lips,” McMahon said...

With files from Tess Kalinowski and David Rider

FULL ARTICLE