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The Board articulated its policy position on the critical issue of how to fund public transportation development in the region with the March 2013 discussion paper, A Green Light to Moving the Toronto Region: Paying for Public Transportation Expansion. As the Board noted at the time, and continues to do so, our proposal was not cast in stone. It was intended to spark a serious debate. Nevertheless, if opposed to the Board’s proposal, we invite others to come forward with a credible alternative.
The paper put forward four revenue tools (Parking Space Levy, Sales Tax, Fuel Tax, HOV pay lanes) for serious consideration that must be dedicated to funding Metrolinx’s, The Big Move, the region’s transportation plan. The proposed tools, in some combination, would deliver the necessary minimum $2 billion annually to build out The Big Move over the next two decades.
One, the provincial government already has a plan for building regional express rail, including a route very similar to SmartTrack, and has had it since 2009. Tory’s plan is slightly different from Metrolinx’s: it includes other stations and does a jog along Eglinton West that would require about 10 kilometres’ worth of tunnelling. (A significant cost his campaign did not initially acknowledge.) SmartTrack is essentially a John Tory–fronted pitch of an off-the-shelf product, with a couple of tweaks. For the purpose of calculating TIFs, this is important because then the comparison is not to what the SmartTrack route would look like without transit, but what additional value SmartTrack offers compared to the provincial plan.
Two, Tory’s plan hinges on projected development in three areas: Liberty Village, the downtown core, and the East Don Lands. Liberty Village and the downtown core are already fairly well developed, and the former likely already faces a deficit in terms of the level of municipal services it receives. There is little extra value to be captured here.