How agreement changes the landscape
The pact between the province and city is expected to affect highways, subways, housing and more
ALYSHAH HASHAM AND VICTORIA GIBSON
Premier Doug Ford and Mayor Olivia Chow announced a new deal Monday that promises to change Toronto’s financial future — at least for the next three years. Here are some key takeaways from the announcement:
Province taking over Gardiner, Don Valley Parkway, with pledge not to introduce road tolls
Though Ford rejected the idea when it was raised in this year’s mayoral election, it’s happening.
By the end of next year, it will be the province and not the city you’ll be cursing while stuck in traffic on two of Toronto’s busiest highways. The city could save between $2 billion and $6.5 billion over 10 years, depending on updated cost assessments. Ford specifically promised tolls will not be part of the provincial takeover.
The province has committed to funding the capital and operating costs of the highways in next year’s city budget prior to the formal takeover, which would come after a standard due diligence assessment to be completed in December 2024.
Monday’s deal means the current plan to rehabilitate the Gardiner Expressway, including rebuilding eastern section, continues. Design work for the eastern section and the new ramp between the Gardiner and DVP is ongoing, with construction expected to begin in 2026, according to the last update provided to council.
City stands down on Ontario Place spa fight, but underground parking garage might move
Chow campaigned on preserving the provincially owned waterfront space as a public park, but has agreed to allow the province to move forward with approvals for the Therme mega-spa development by the end of the year.
However, there have been some concessions from the province: It is now considering moving the fivelevel underground parking lot to Exhibition Place and it will “discuss partnership opportunities” with the city to keep parts of the Ontario Science Centre in its North York location.
A fund to boost transit use
The province is offering $300 million to help increase TTC ridership, if the city commits to increasing the presence of police and/or safety officers on transit, as well as expanding cell service and improving emergency response to rider reports of “signal incidents, threats and concerns.”
The province will also support the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the Finch West LRT with a total of $330 million in three years. However, no funding was committed for a new Waterfront East LRT.
More money, more housing
Chow said the cash saved by the uploading will be spent on housing as well as transit, water and wastewater and local road upgrades, with $200 million specifically earmarked for an East Harbour flood protection project.
Under the deal, the two governments have six months to identify land they already own, and pluck out priority sites for housing development — with the plan documents specifying they would be for “homes of all kinds,” not solely for affordable housing efforts.
The outlined goal is to get those projects started within a year and a half.
The new deal encourages the city to exceed targets set out by the province for development of housing.
If the city hits 125 per cent of its goals over the next three years, the province will kick in up to $342 million.
It requires 20,900 units for this year, 23,750 for 2024 and 28,500 in 2025 with a plan to get there due within the next two months.
Conditional on matching federal funding
The federal government joined the new deal working group several weeks after it began. Those negotiations continue.
Several commitments made by the province as part of the new deal are conditional on the federal government matching funding.
For example, the province promises Toronto $217.2 million annually for homelessness prevention for three years — if the federal government provides more funding support for refugees and asylum seekers.
The province has also promised $758 million for 55 new trains to replace the aging ones on Line 2, providing the feds and city match funds.
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