POLITICS

Olivia Chow Questions Funding For John Tory's SmartTrack

10/16/2014 07:52 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST
CP
Mayoral candidate Olivia Chow continues to question details of opponent John Tory's transit plan, saying numbers contained in his funding plan for SmartTrack don't add up.  

Chow released an economic analysis of the SmartTrack funding plan Thursday morning. Performed by former Ontario Hydro chief economist Mitchell Rothman, Chow said the analysis highlights the "risks" of SmartTrack, which would build 53 kilometres of high-speed surface rail, primarily along existing GO Transit rail corridors.

Tory has estimated SmartTrack will cost $8 billion, a price he's said will be shared equally between the city, the province and the federal government.

In Tory's plan much of the city's share would be generated by tax increment financing, a funding mechanism that banks on future property tax increases the new transit line is projected to generate.

But Chow says the Rothman analysis shows Tory has overestimated how much SmartTrack will add in tax revenue, saying the funding scheme would raise only $929 million, short of the $2.66 billion the city needs. Chow said Tory is  counting on tax revenue from construction SmartTrack will generate in downtown areas that are already built up.

Chow says Tory's plan counts on SmartTrack creating new development that amounts to 15 and a half buildings the size of First Canadian Place.

"This is a stunning amount of development, and the percentage of it Mr. Tory attributes to SmartTrack is highly ambitious," says a statement from Chow's campaign.

During this campaign, Chow has highlighted what she believes are other problems with SmartTrack, including routing problems with the line in the city's northwest, questions about capacity at Union Station, and the need for track upgrades in the east end of the line.

Tory has said tax increment financing has worked in other jurisdictions to raise money for large transit projects.

Toronto voters go to the polls on Oct. 27.

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