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Build more transit and fewer parking lots: Toronto Board of Trade

Last Updated Sep 15, 2016 at 11:34 am EDT

New TTC streetcars in Toronto. CITYNEWS/Diana Pereira

A new report from the Toronto Region Board of Trade suggests taking $30.5 million from the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) and putting it towards financing transit expansion.

The Unlocking Value: A Strategy to Finance Transit Expansion report, which was released on Thursday, urges the city to stop building public parking lots and invest the money in transit projects.

It says the city should restructure the TPA’s income agreement and “redirect $30.5-million in annual revenue for transit expansion.”

Currently, the money needed to fund TTC expansion is around $11 billion, while the TPA’s 10-year plan allocates more than $377 million to its capital projects.

The Board of Trade says that while much of the TTC funding will come from provincial and federal governments, the city will have to match the contributions in the millions or even billions of dollars.

The report cites the TPA’s 2016 plan in which it states that it expects to spend an average of $30.5 million each year on off-street expansion, including purchasing new parking lots and demolishing existing buildings to make way for parking space, and constructing and expanding multi-level lots.

“There is no risk to other city services if the TPA redirects all of this cash to Toronto’s highest priority – public transit expansion – instead,” the report states.

“Our recommendation: end the Toronto Parking Authority’s capital expansion plan as soon as is practical. If the TPA can sustain an average of $30.5-million in self-funded expansion over the next ten years, it can plausibly adjust to sustain that level of financing for transit instead.”

However, the Board of Trade notes that Green P can expand into new lots if there is a “good business case” for it to do so.

“All it means is that the TPA must simply find private partners, work with BIAs or use project-specific mortgages to finance inventory expansion on a case by case basis,” the report states.

The report also suggests accelerating short-term land sales through Build Toronto, dedicating taxes raised from the TTC and the TPA site development to the mayor’s City Building Fund, and harmonizing the city’s debt-limit policy to match other cities in Canada in order to create more debt room.

“Transit investment is our highest priority and yet it is starved of capital, meanwhile other agencies are able to spend generously to expand their operations. We believe it’s time to rethink our priorities,” Jan De Silva, president and CEO of Toronto Region Board of Trade, said in a statement.

“The city can unlock the value of its existing assets and put them to work to build the transit our citizens and businesses need.”

De Silva said that while the city has plan to build transit in the next 15 years, the city needs money for this work to happen.

Read the report below or click here to view it.

Toronto Board of Trade Transit Financing Report

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