Toronto Mayor John Tory said he is disappointed and frustrated over the lack of new provincial funding for the city’s transit and social housing needs following the release of the Ontario budget on Thursday.
“Premier Kathleen Wynne and her government had a chance to stand up for Toronto on transit and on housing, instead, at least on the pages of this budget, they turned their backs,” Tory told reporters at city hall on Friday.
Despite new measures such as the ability for municipalities to impose a vacant home tax and hotel tax, an increase in child-care funding, and surplus provincial land made available for new social housing units, the mayor said future investments are still not being met.
“You can’t play a highlights reel from last year and expect people to believe that you’re going to be on the ice for the next game,” Tory said.
“We can’t fall into the same trap we been in for decades, convincing ourselves that the hard work is all done, that all of the past and current projects will suffice.”
Tory cited the federal government’s budget announcement in March of $20.1 billion for transit projects across the country over 11 years as an area where he thought Ontario would match.
WATCH: City of Toronto officials disappointed with 2017 Ontario budget. Cindy Pom reports.
“Without matching dollars from the province, the Downtown Relief Line cannot be built. And I have said repeatedly, that means no Yonge Street north extension. Waterfront transit will not be built. The Eglinton East LRT cannot be built,” he said.
The lack of funding for social housing also irked the mayor as the city faces a backlog of repairs to Toronto Community Housing buildings at a cost of $2.6 billion over the next decade.
“The province also owes something to those who rely on social housing for a roof over their heads. A roof that past provincial governments have built, failed to maintain and then hand it off to cities, especially Toronto,” Tory said.
WATCH: Provincial budget fulfills what Mayor Tory wants for Toronto: Wynne
City councillor Joe Cressy, who sits as a board member at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, said $350 million alone is needed next year to meet the growing repair costs.
“If nothing changes, we’re looking at upward of 1,000 units, if we don’t find new funds, having to close by the end of 2018,” Cressy said.
“That’s not acceptable. Frankly at this city, we have to find a way not to let that happen but the province has almost made that impossible.”
Premier Wynne responded to Tory’s comments during a pharmacare announcement in Toronto on Friday by reiterating the amount of dollars being spent to current projects and housing investments.
“I know that Mayor Tory is talking about, ‘Well what comes next.’ These are multi-year projects. Our infrastructure investment has gone from $160 billion to $190 billion over 13 years and Toronto is a big part of that,” Wynne said.
“On housing, we are very committed to both affordable and social housing. We’re demonstrating that by putting $500 million from cap-and-trade revenue through the Climate Action Plan to restore and renovate social housing. Toronto will get $130 million of that. We’re putting $200 million over the next three years to build 1,500 new supportive housing units.”
VIDEO: Alan Carter speaks one-on-one with Premier Kathleen Wynne about Ontario Budget 2017
Wynne maintained her government’s priorities cannot be solely focused on Toronto.
“He’s been our partner. We’re going to continue to work with him. But make no mistake, I’m the premier of the province of Ontario, so the mayor of Mississauga, the mayor of Kenora, both of whom I spoke to yesterday, they are important leaders and those jurisdictions are extremely important to the province of Ontario as well,” she said.
“We get that Toronto is a big part of the engine of the economy in this province, so is the GTA, the north is important, and the east and the southwest are important, and we’re going to be working with all those municipalities to make sure they thrive.