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Tory takes on runs, developers in bid to ease road closure chaos

Mayor John Tory says he’s prepared to take the heat in order to open Toronto’s streets.

The city will have to get tough with event organizers and construction companies, said the mayor, in an effort to reduce the disruptions sometimes caused by road closures.

“When three groups — all worthy groups — all want to have their runs down Yonge Street in the same month, that’s very nice but we may have to say to one of them, ‘Maybe not until 2016, sorry,'” Tory said.

“I’m prepared to take the heat for that, because it is in the public interest.”

Tory came out swinging from his first road closures co-ordination working group meeting Friday, part of his six-point plan to fight congestion.

Changes likely won’t be seen until 2016, Tory said, since many events are already planned and scheduled for next summer.

But he added better communication of upcoming road closures could make life easier for Torontonians trying to move around the city.

“When people are not communicated with, they go to where they’re used to going and they they find out too late they’re in a mess,” Tory said.

The city will also explore raising the fees for developers who close lanes around their construction sites.

“Developers have told me they can do just fine under a stricter regime when it comes to this stuff,” Tory said.

Possible new taxes

A day after city staff said they are exploring new taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, and event tickets, Tory said he does not support the revenue tools.

“[Staff] wasn’t exploring them on my say so, or based with my knowledge,” Tory said.

He said he does not support those taxes, but would allow a property tax increase at or below the rate of inflation.