TORONTO – Ontario will upload two Toronto highways to help alleviate the city’s growing financial problems in exchange for the municipality approving 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 frontline 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.
Also as part of the deal, the province will give Toronto up to $1.2 billion over the next three years to be used for more homeless shelters and more police officers in the transit system.
In return, the city will approve the province’s plans to redevelop Ontario Place, on Toronto’s waterfront.
Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow had campaigned this spring to fight the province’s plan to redevelop Ontario Place and had mused about using a variety of tools to slow down that process.
Ford and Chow said they are contemplating moving a proposed parking lot at Ontario Place across the street to Exhibition Place. They are also discussing some sort of science programming at the Ontario Science Centre, which is slated to move to Ontario Place despite an uproar from local residents.
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 neighborhoods, whether it’s community centres, libraries, parks, and all those things where people gather and where they feel they belong,” Chow said.
The city will also take over the operations of two transit lines that are still being built, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line and the Finch West LRT line.
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