Toronto Mayor Rob Ford suggests that the costs of the city's pressing transit needs may lie with the higher levels of government because "they have many more dollars than we do."
In an interview Wednesday with Matt Galloway on CBC's Metro Morning, a low-key Ford said that as of today he doesn't support taxes or tolls to pay for new TTC infrastructure.
Ford said he hasn't seen a city report made public on Monday that analyzes dedicated revenue sources such as sales taxes and road tolls. Ford said he believed the report was going to be released "either next month or the month after."
Until he sees the report, he said he would not support tolls, user fees, or a return of the vehicle registration tax.
"I don't support any of them right now," he said. "I'm not a tax and spend kind of politician."
Instead, he said the three levels of government are needed to deal with billions in transit expansion costs over the coming years in the Greater Toronto Area.
"Not just the City of Toronto," Ford said.
"We have to sit down with the province and the feds. Obviously they have many more dollars than we do. And I think we'll have to come up with a solution for this transit issue. I cannot sit here today and tell you we're going to implement this tax or that tax. I don't have that information in front of me."
But the report authored by city staff that Ford said he has not seen cast doubts the province's ability or willingness to carry out a planned $50-billion regional transit plan given the $13-billion deficit it is facing. The plan maybe jeopardized "unless new dedicated taxes and fees are implemented to pay for them," the report said.
TTC chair Karen Stintz said later Wednesday that the mayor has been consistent that he doesn't want to see taxes raised, but that she's sure his executive committee will give thoughtful consideration to the funding report's recommendations.
"They [the recommendations] ultimately will go out for public consultation and we'll hear from the public," she said. "I think the public is in some cases ahead of us on this issue and we'll hear from them, and I think council will make an informed decision."
'I'd like to know what I'm doing wrong'
Ford's interview comes after a rough couple of months for the mayor in which he has had to deal with criticism over a widely circulated photo of him driving while reading, a conflict-of-interest trial that could potentially cost him his job, and an admonition from council ally Denzil Minnan-Wong to "smarten up."
Asked by Galloway if he would do anything in recent months differently, Ford said he believes he is doing a good job as mayor and is being targeted by council's "left wing."
"Let's call a spade a spade here," Ford said. "The NDP of council wanted to continue spending and the Liberals and Conservatives don't."
He said he's getting the city turned around financially and pointed to the $168-million sale of Enwave as a success.
"If people disagree with my approach I'd be more than happy to talk to them," he said. "I'd like to know what I'm doing wrong, but according to a lot of people I'm doing a good job."
Bike lane removal costs justified, Ford says
The mayor also reiterated his support for the removal of the bike lanes on Jarvis Street, which will happen in the coming months at a cost of $270,000.
Ford said the lanes never should have been added in the first place because they are "not what the people wanted."
He noted a Toronto Board of Trade report that said congestion is costing Toronto $6 billion a year, and added that separated bike lanes are being built on Sherbourne Street, where painted bike lanes had already existed.
"We should have listened to the people up in Toronto Centre, up in the Rosedale area that use this, that constantly email me my office and say, 'Rob, we've got to get rid of these bike lanes,' " he said.
Ford's vision is lower taxes
Asked what his vision for the city is during his remaining two years in office, Ford said Toronto needs to stimulate its economy.
"The most important social program is a job," he said, adding that the city needs lower commercial tax rates.
“We’re going to have a safe, vibrant city in the next few years and we're already doing it," he said. "But you have to take care of your own fiscal house first and we're getting our house in order, and then we can open up the doors."
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