Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne acknowledges Toronto Mayor John Tory isn’t happy with the province’s decision to nix road tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway, but is still convinced both can continue to maintain a strong working relationship.
“We just had a perfectly collegial meeting. We talked about a full range of issues,” Wynne told reporters following a meeting with the mayor at Queen’s Park on Monday. “I don’t think this is about a broken relationship. This is about a disagreement on a particular issue.”
The premier announced last Friday her government is rejecting a request by the city to impose road tolls on two municipally run highways.
The province will instead double gas tax funding for municipalities from two cents to four cents a litre by 2021 to help cover transit and infrastructure projects.
“I know he’s not happy. I understand that. But I also know we’re going to be able to work together on a whole range of issues,” Wynne said.
Toronto currently receives around $170 million annually from the provincial gas tax and that number is expected to double by 2021.
But Mayor Tory called the Ontario government’s decision to limit the city’s revenue tool options a black eye on municipal autonomy.
Toronto city council voted 32-9 in favour of supporting tolls at a council meeting in December.
“I believe the city is strong enough, it is mature enough, it is accountable enough, it has its own duly elected government to make more of these decisions on its own and to be held to account for it. I wasn’t given that chance nor was city council,” Tory told reporters at city hall following the meeting with Wynne.
Although the two highways are run and maintained by the city, the province still needs to approve the tolls under the City of Toronto Act.
The mayor said Friday he had no indication Wynne would nix the plan when he first presented it to Queen’s Park last fall.
“If I’d been told, ‘Don’t bother with road tolls,’ I guess I wouldn’t have bothered. I might have put up an argument. I would have certainly known that this was not a starter,” Tory told reporters.
VIDEO: Roadblock for tolls in Toronto, province rejects city’s plan for toll roads