Corp Comm Connects

Tory steps up pressure on Wynne for budget billions

Queen’s Park must match federal spending on Toronto transit and housing to build a “stronger, fairer city,” says Tory in letter to councillors, urging them to speak to their MPPs.
April 9, 2017
David Rider

Mayor John Tory is urging council colleagues to lobby MPPs and anyone else who can help Toronto gets its “fair share” of money in the upcoming 2017 provincial budget.

In a letter sent Sunday and obtained by the Star, Tory notes the recent federal budget pledges big spending on transit expansion, social housing renewal and more, which could mean billions of dollars for Toronto.

“There is a strong need for another chair at the table and we need the province to take that spot . . . ” and match funds from Ottawa and the city.

“I’m asking you today to write to your local MP and MPP, to write to any federal or provincial politician you know, to urge them to make their voice heard on Toronto’s needs if we are to build a stronger, fairer city.”

The mayor gave the 44 councillors a draft letter they can use as a template. It lists a dozen “priority projects from Toronto city council that would benefit from provincial funds matching federal contributions” with a combined total cost of more than $20 billion.

They include $6.8 billion for a “relief” subway line connecting downtown to the Danforth to ease Yonge line overcrowding; $3.72 billion for the SmartTrack line including Eglinton West LRT; $3.6 billion for Gardiner Expressway repairs; and $1.7 billion from the provincial and federal governments for Toronto Community Housing repairs.

Tory has been in a war of words with Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government since January, when Wynne reneged on a commitment to let Toronto toll the city-owned Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway.

The mayor has called a doubling of gas tax revenues inadequate compensation and demanded provincial Liberals boost help for Toronto.

Wynne’s ministers have fired back with long lists of past spending on the provincial capital plus future commitments including regional electric rail.

Those “talking points” are fine, Tory writes, but “we all have to change our ways so as to fund and build continuously to meet the needs of a growing city.”