Richard Joy doesn’t care much about what a new Toronto transit system will look like. It can be light rail, underground subways or something completely different. He’s concerned with something, that in his view, is far more important than what type of vehicle should transport Torontonians from one end of the city to another: he wants to know how in the world the city will pay for it.
“The challenge is massive,” says the vice-president of policy and government relations for the Toronto Board of Trade. He says Metrolinx, a provincial agency that looks at ways to improve transportation in the GTA, wants to spend $50 billion over the next 25 years to develop transit, but the province says it will only kick in $10 billion.
“That leaves a $40 billion question,” says Joy. “That’s like building two English Channels or a Three Gorges Dam.”
How the city will account for the rest of the money is anyone’s guess at this point. Part of the problem is that it needs to fund numerous other capital projects, like fixing and building new infrastructure—such as roads and sewers—too. The city has money-raising tools like municipal bonds, property taxes and user fees in its arsenal, but with increasing demand for new infrastructure, not to mention a better TTC, Toronto will have to start looking for new ways to fund their growing list of capital projects.