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Ottawa finally cuts cheque for TTC

Posted: March 18, 2008, 2:49 PM by Kelly Grant
Hall Monitor

Four years after Ottawa first announced $350-million in public transit cash for Toronto, a deal was finally signed today to get the money flowing.

The Toronto Transit Commission, which has been counting on the money since former prime minister Paul Martin promised it in 2004, has already spent or allocated $303.5-million buying new hybrid buses, creating a dedicated right-of-way for streetcars on St. Clair Avenue West, purchasing 78 new subway cars and upgrading other parts of the transit system.

The Conservative government is holding back $46.5-million of the $350-million until the TTC completes a plan for a smart fare card.

Lawrence Cannon, federal transport minister, today blamed bureaucratic wrangling for the hold-up — although he previously faulted the city and Mayor David Miller for reneging on a funding deal with GO Transit.

“One of the additional tasks that MPs and ministers have is to be able to untangle knots that [in]voluntarily or voluntarily sometimes become part and parcel of the bureaucracy,” Mr. Cannon told reporters in Scarborough. “We were able to untie some of these problems and get the money flowing and that is basically what we’re doing here today.”

Also at the announcement, Jim Flaherty, the finance minister, reiterated that Ottawa has no plans to give the equivalent of one cent of the GST to cities, as Mr. Miller and other Canadian mayors have asked.

“Not going to happen,” Mr. Flaherty said.

Instead, he pointed to the Conservative government’s decision to make the municipal share of the gas tax permanent — a move that will give Toronto $163-million annually for public transit by the time it is fully phased in in 2009-2010.




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