A war of words is ramping up once again between City Hall and Queen’s Park in the wake of the provincial budget.
Mayor John Tory is accusing the Wynne government of turning its back on Toronto.
“The most crucial needs of the people of the city of Toronto were not met by this budget,” Tory told the media on Friday.
“Premier Kathleen Wynne and her government had a chance to stand up for Toronto on transit and on housing, instead, at least on the pages of this budget, they turned their backs.”
— Momin Qureshi (@Momin680NEWS) April 28, 2017
However, Wynne said she’s disappointed with that analysis.
“When I look at the billions of dollars that we are investing in Toronto … we have made a significant, significant investment and will continue to make a significant investment in transit and transportation infrastructure in the city of Toronto,” the premier explained.
Tory was hoping the province would announce it was matching federal funding on transit, but the budget just confirmed its existing commitment with no new money coming to the city.
Without new money, Tory said the city won’t be able to afford to push forward with several transit plans – including the Downtown Relief Line – or any possible new projects that would move the city forward.
“We need a provincial partner who is focused on building our city’s future and not measuring its achievements in dollars already spent,” said Tory.
“You can’t play a highlights reel from last year and expect people to believe that you’re going to be on the ice for the next game.”
Tory added that when Wynne ended the city’s plan to raise transit funding itself by adding tolls to the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway, he thought the province would step up the city’s funding to make up for that lost revenue. But that did not happen.
“I don’t think the public thought that as they saw the federal government starting to invest again in transit and housing, that at that very same moment the provincial government would say its work is done in terms of future new investment in transit and housing,” he said.
But Wynne insists the province is committed to Toronto’s transit and housing development and the long-term projects already in motion are receiving millions in funding.
“I know that Mayor Tory is talking about ‘well what comes next?’ These are multi-year projects. Our infrastructure investment has gone from $160-billion to $190-billion over 13 years and Toronto is a big part of that,” she said.
Wynne then reminded Tory that although Toronto is an important part of the province, other areas outside the GTA need the funds to grow as well.
“We are meeting what the mayor is looking for in many, many ways. He’s been our partner. We’re going to continue to work with him but make no mistake, I’m the premier of the province of Ontario,” she said.
“We get that Toronto is a big part of the engine of the economy in this province, so is the GTA and the north is important and the east and the southwest are important. And we’re going to be working with all of those municipalities to make sure they thrive.”