Mayor John Tory says Toronto needs more streetcars “now”—and its one of the reasons the city needs to increase property taxes.
Meanwhile, a new report says the TTC will need an extra $414 million for streetcars by 2024 to beef up its network and keep pace with population growth.
The mayor revealed a plan Wednesday to extend and increase the city building fund—a special property tax levy dedicated to transit and housing projects. The plan will cost the average Toronto household around $43 next year, he said.
“We can’t afford, as a city, not to do these things,” said Tory, speaking on CBC’s Metro Morning Thursday.
The tax hike will help pay for the public transit and affordable housing that we “absolutely” must build, Tory said.
Streetcar networks needs millions in new funding: TTC
Toronto’s streetcar network has a stark need for new funding, according to the latest report to the TTC board.
The unfunded amounts required to enhance the network will balloon to more than $414 million by 2024, the report said.
Without funding, the report warns, buses could stay on streetcar routes and the TTC might have to “forego service improvements for growth and reliability for multiple years.”
“We need new streetcars now. Now,” said Tory, speaking on Metro Morning Thursday.
The TTC is decommissioning its fleet of old CLRV streetcars this year, which first arrived in December 1977.
Beyond just streetcars, the report says the TTC’s five-year service plan will require $779.5 million — $745.4 million of which is not currently funded.
In addition to helping fund affordable housing, Tory said the tax hike will help bring down the TTC’s $33-billion state-of- good-repair backlog.
Earlier this week, a fire on subway tracks shut down part of Line 2 for hours — and Tory says it happened because wooden wire covers had not been replaced with fibreglass.
“Those are the kind of things that get spread out over a long period of time because people are trying to save money,” he said.
‘It’s the right thing to do’
Tory said he’ll launch an “aggressive campaign” to get money from other levels of government, but the city has to “put up our share.”
He expects that extending the city building fund for six more years will bring in more than $5 billion for transit and housing.
“I will be accountable for the decision because I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Tory, who says the city has “about two tools” to raise revenue.
“And I think people trust me to do the right thing.”
Earlier this week, Tory also announced a plan to build 40,000 new affordable and supportive housing options.
Tory’s plan means the property tax levy would continue for six more years, and increase by 1.5 per cent in 2020 and 2021.
City council still has to approve the tax increase.