After an hours-long meeting Tuesday, Toronto City Council has voted 32-9 in favour of asking the province to approve tolling the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway.
“We can’t wait around for another debate, or another decision, or another government, or a new council here. I believe traffic is at a crisis. We’ve got to fix traffic by building transit – that’s the number one thing we have to do,” Mayor John Tory told reporters Tuesday evening following the council vote.
“I think people are saying, ‘Thank God somebody’s down there providing a degree of leadership and a degree of honesty by not only spelling out a plan for the next 15 years, but also beginning in a serious way to answer the question of how to pay for it.”
WATCH: John Tory and Giorgio Mammoliti get into a heated exchange at city council about road tolls (Dec. 13)
City council approved several recommendations aimed at getting additional money to pay for transit and infrastructure, including a formal request to the Ontario government to allow the city to toll city-owned roads and to implement and collect a hotel and short-term accommodation rental tax.
Should the province sign off on the city’s request, staff have been asked to report back on capping the amount of tolls Toronto residents would have to pay as well as issuing an Expression of Interest to get detailed information on tolling.
Leading up to the vote critics argued road tolls will place another financial burden on commuters and may cause traffic to disperse onto city streets causing further congestion.
The province still needs to rubber stamp the plan. Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested last week she won’t oppose it.
WATCH: City council passes Mayor Tory’s proposed road tolls. Ashley Carter reports.
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown wants the Liberals to reject tolls and said he’d rescind any such provincial approval if the Tories win the 2018 election.
The New Democrats also oppose road tolls and said both the federal and provincial governments must provide a lot more funding for municipal transit systems.
The mayor, who had previously shunned the idea of road tolls, said last month he is now in favour of implementing the user fee to help pay for transit and infrastructure costs.
Tory said a $2 road toll would raise over $200 million annually.
About 228,000 vehicles travel on the Gardiner east of Highway 427 on a daily basis while about 100,000 drive on the DVP north of the Bayview-Bloor exit.
WATCH: John Tory joins Farah Nasser to talk about road tolls (Nov. 30)
Meanwhile, Tory said Tuesday evening that he is ready to defend his position in the 2018 municipal election.
“Everything you do in the course of a term in office as mayor is part of your record, and therefore by definition becomes an election,” he said.
“I am proud to stand up and say to the people of Toronto that I came to office, developed a plan to build transit and fix traffic, and how to pay for it, that I was honest about it, that I led on it and I think the people of Toronto will respect and support that.”