Mayor Rob Ford finally told voters how he would pay for more subway lines in Toronto: he would raise property taxes.
Mr. Ford has been campaigning for re-election on a pledge to extend the Sheppard subway, to build a subway under Finch Avenue — both routes that are currently slated to be light rail — and the Downtown Relief Line.
Speaking to reporters at City Hall on Wednesday, he said he would take the “exact same approach” that resulted in the Scarborough subway, which included a mix of property taxes to fund the city’s share, in addition to federal and provincial dollars.
“For the Sheppard line to connect, a quarter of one per cent [property tax hike],” Mr. Ford said. “But that’s just the tip of the ice berg. You need more than a quarter of one per cent obviously. You need the province to get on board, you need the federal government to get on board, which I’m sure they’ll get on board, and you need the 3Ps. We’ve got to get the private sector involved,” he said.
Asked if that means he would tack on another 0.25% tax hike for the other lines, the mayor hedged.
“Let’s take Sheppard first and foremost. That’s been my priority from day one. We hook up Sheppard, connect that. And I’d be looking strongly at Finch, and the DRL. It’s going to be a while. But, it’s very straightforward what I’ve been saying.”
The approved Scarborough subway plan actually relies on a specific property tax hike for the project of 0.5%, ramping up to 1.6% by 2016. The mayor voted in favour of that funding scheme last year, but then opposed it during budget deliberations in January.
Councillor Karen Stintz, who is running for mayor, burst out laughing when she heard of the 0.25% proposition for Sheppard Avenue.
“I don’t think Rob knows how much the subway is going to cost,” she said. “Unless he plans to build the subway over the next one hundred years.” Ms. Stintz supports an LRT on Sheppard
Rob Ford promises to raise property taxes to pay for more subway lines
EDIT: DOUBLE BREAKING -- Ford taking break
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