Paying for Gardiner/DVP Fix Should Start with Current Government Funds says OTA

Gardiner ExpresswayThe Ontario Trucking Association says its carrier members will not to be receptive to paying a toll or fees to repair an existing essential roadway such as the Gardiner Expressway and DVP.

“We estimate the Ontario trucking industry pays over $1.2 billion a year in combined provincial diesel fuel taxes and driver/vehicle registration fees to the provincial government’s coffers. Additionally, the industry adds about a billion dollars a year nationally to the federal governments’ general revenues through the federal excise tax on diesel, with a significant share of that generated by Ontario’s carriers,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.

“The industry acknowledges these expressways are owned and operated by the City of Toronto, but governments at all levels need to understand that the road users’ capacity to keep paying more in taxes and fees is reaching a critical point.”

The Gardiner/DVP is an important piece of economic infrastructure for the nation and province and should be treated as such, says OTA. Ottawa, Queen’s Park and the City of Toronto need to first examine how to collectively use the current funds collected by all road users at the provincial and federal levels to help pay for this important municipal road infrastructure project that has provincial and national implications.

It is OTA’s understanding, based on today’s report released by the City of Toronto, that the City had applied for $820 million to P3 Canada and the New Building Canada Fund. The City was advised by a representative from P3 Canada the Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation Plan Business Case would not be reviewed in time for funding in 2016. OTA also understands, based on this same City of Toronto report, the Province has not provided any indication it is prepared to fund the project, citing instead its 2014 and 2015 budget priorities to invest about $15 billion over ten years in regional transit projects.

“The Gardiner Expressway would seem to be a poster-child project for public-private partnerships. OTA hopes the City of Toronto and the federal government, through P3 Canada, continue to work together and that P3 Canada makes a review of the Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation Plan Business Case a priority in 2017,” added Laskowski.

Should alternative financing be arranged through P3 Canada, along with provincial support, it is OTA’s hope tolls could possibly be avoided.

Don Valley ParkwayThe DVP and Gardiner are vital routes for motor carriers delivering daily goods to consumers and businesses in the downtown core. Depending on the time of day, trucks on the Gardiner and DVP can make up to 9 percent of total traffic.

In a recent OTA survey, carrier members voiced strong opposition to paying a toll or other forms of fees to reconstruct the Gardiner/DVP. The industry was more inclined to support, as an alternative, an extension of the province’s HoT lane concept on the expressways.

“OTA has long recognized that for new road infrastructure projects to materialize, the industry may have to examine and be willing to accept alternative financing mechanisms to achieve the benefits of new bridges and roadways,” added Laskowski. “The Gardiner and DVP are not new. Their current state of disrepair and the lack of public funds to finance them is symbolic of how we as a nation have failed to implement and budget for future infrastructure requirements, which support every aspect of our economy.”