TORONTO — Premier Kathleen Wynne suggests the Ontario government will not stand in the way of any formal request to impose road tolls on two major highways leading into downtown Toronto.
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown wants the Liberals to reject a proposal from Toronto Mayor John Tory to impose tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway.
Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne are shown at Queen's Park on Dec. 1, 2014. (Photo: Chris Young/CP)
Brown pointed out that Wynne opposed road tolls five years ago when she was transportation minister, and asked the premier directly during question period if she would stop the tolls on the two Toronto highways.
Wynne responded with an attack on how the Conservatives had disrespected municipalities when they were in government, and said the Liberals would not take "unilateral action against the city of Toronto."
Brown said Tory's plan to put tolls on the DVP and Gardiner would help pay for Wynne's "mistakes" in overseeing road and transit projects, which the auditor general said cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
"If Kathleen Wynne wasn't building bridges upside down, repaving roads every two years when it should be 15 years, we wouldn't be having this debate," he said. "By allowing these tolls to go ahead, she's asking 905 commuters and 416 drivers to pay for her mistakes."
"If Kathleen Wynne wasn't building bridges upside down, repaving roads every two years when it should be 15 years, we wouldn't be having this debate."
Tory's office put out a release Tuesday accusing Brown of trying to "score cheap political points" by opposing road tolls as a revenue tool for the cash-strapped city.
"Maybe he should have championed a plan to fix people's commutes into Toronto," said his spokeswoman, Amanda Galbraith. "Now he needs to explain to Toronto residents why he's happy to let them live in a city that can't afford to fight traffic or build transit."
Wynne was touring Korea and Japan last week and until Tuesday had never been asked her position on tolls for the DVP and Gardiner.
Other Liberals had avoided direct answers when asked if they'd approve Tory's plan to put a toll of approximately $2 for each trip on the two highways, saying they haven't had an official proposal from the city.
$2 tolls will raise $200M a year: Tory
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said Tuesday that the province "will carefully review" any detailed proposal it gets from Toronto "that has council support on this, or any other issue."
But Brown said the province needs to send a clear message that the idea is not on the table by supporting a PC motion opposing tolls on existing roads or highways when it comes up for a vote Thursday.
"This motion will force Wynne Liberals to think about how tolls will hurt their constituents, particularly Liberal MPPs in the 905 and the city of Toronto," he said. "It's the wrong thing for Ontario."
Tory said a $2 toll would raise about $200 million a year to help transit funding and split the cost between Toronto taxpayers and the 40 per cent of commuters from outside the city who use the DVP and Gardiner daily.
The Ontario government is currently testing a pilot project that lets drivers without passengers pay to use the high occupancy vehicle lanes on a section of the Queen Elizabeth Way between Oakville and Burlington. It plans to expand high occupancy toll lanes to other highways in the Greater Toronto Area.