News

Published November 27, 2023

Province to take control of two Toronto highways in 'new deal' for city

Ontario-Toronto deal - CP

By Allison Jones and Liam Casey in Toronto

Ontario will take control of two Toronto highways to help alleviate the city's growing financial problems and the municipality will concede the province can move ahead with its plans for a redeveloped Ontario Place, the two levels of government announced Monday.

The province and the city had been working on a so-called "new deal" for Toronto, which is facing a $1.5-billion deficit, and had agreed to avoid new taxes and cuts to front-line services.

"We've agreed to a game-changing, historic new deal," Premier Doug Ford said at Queen's Park.

The two highways, the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway, will never be tolled by the province, Ford said. The province taking responsibility for those roads, along with a promise to fund 55 new subway trains — conditional on a matching federal contribution — will give Toronto $7.6 billion in capital relief.

A spokesperson for federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government "has and will continue to be a strong partner for the people of Toronto." 

As part of the "new deal," the province will also give Toronto up to $1.2 billion in operating funding over the next three years, including support for two light rail lines, money for transit operations and safety and money for more homeless shelters.

On the city's end, it has accepted that the province is going ahead to acquire the land it needs for its plans at Ontario Place on Toronto's waterfront, plans that include a privately owned large waterpark and spa being built by European company Therme. 

It's something Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow has vocally criticized. She has mused about using a variety of tools to slow down that redevelopment process, but she admitted Monday the city does not have the power to stop those plans.

"I believe that Ontario Place (is) a public park, but it is called Ontario Place," she said. "The land belongs to the provincial government and we do not have the authority to stop the development."

Ford and Chow said they are contemplating moving a proposed underground waterfront parking lot at Ontario Place across the street to Exhibition Place. They are also discussing some sort of science programming at the existing location of the Ontario Science Centre, which is slated to move to Ontario Place despite an uproar from local residents. 

Ford said he can admit that the waterfront may not be the best place for a parking lot to support the proposed new Ontario Place attractions.

"I'm pretty open to making changes and making sure everyone's half happy," he said. "You know you have a good deal when both sides aren't too happy ... (If) anyone thinks I want the DVP and the Gardiner, no, I don't, but that's our responsibility."

Chow, who was elected in June, said Monday that the city inherited a "financial mess," but that the new deal provided hope.

"The city will be able to spend billions more on affordable housing, fixing transit and building communities with all the things we love in the neighbourhoods, whether it's community centres, libraries, parks and all those things where people gather and where they feel they belong," Chow said.

Other municipalities looking for new deals of their own may be out of luck, Ford signalled, saying the two highways Ontario is uploading move more than 300,000 vehicles every day and are vital to the success of the province's economy.

"If you look at Toronto alone, and in the surrounding area of Toronto, they represent 50 per cent of our GDP," he said. "It's massive. There's nothing like it in the country."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2023

Banner image via The Canadian Press

What do you think of this article?
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Have a breaking story?

Share it with us!
Share Your Story

What’s Barrie talking about?

From breaking news to the best slice of pizza in town! Get everything Barrie’s talking about delivered right to your inbox. Don’t worry, we won’t spam you. We promise :)
Subscription Form
Consent Info

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Central Ontario Broadcasting, 431 Huronia Rd, Barrie, Ontario, CA, https://www.cobroadcasting.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Related Stories

Advertisement
Advertisement