Rob Ford is showcasing his elegant art of persuasion at Toronto city hall once again. The mayor was caught on camera making a fake vomit noise when TTC Chair Karen Stintz suggested raising municipal taxes to pay for the Metrolinx transit expansion that will span from Toronto to Hamilton. Ford responded by reiterating his position against raising taxes, and instead countered with his own proposal.
“You want to pay for transit, I’ve got a good idea — it’s called a casino.”
Ford proposed his own transit plans earlier in his term, which focused on building new subway lines instead of the previously planned light rail transit. However, the mayor was unable to explain how the city would pay for subway expansion, and ruled out raising any municipal taxes whatsoever to collect money for the project.
Last year, the OLG announced its gaming modernization strategy and promoted a Toronto casino as crucial to the plan. Ford immediately latched onto the casino proposal, and regularly touts the economic benefits Toronto would reap from gambling revenues and the casino hosting fees from the province. During the transit meeting at city hall, Ford restated the merits of a casino, while critiquing Stintz’s position on transit.
“You get a lot of money to pay for a good amount of the transit, you get the private sector involved — people aren’t ready for new taxes yet.”
Metrolinx is reviewing its options to pay for the $2 billion transit expansion project, and will make its recommendation to city councils in Toronto and Hamilton as well as the Ontario government, by June 1. The options currently include raising property taxes in the cities, increased transit fees, and parking levies at GO transit train and bus stations. Stintz says the Metrolinx project will alleviate some of the congestion in the GTA, which is vital for the region’s economic future.
“It’s really a discussion of whether or not the transit projects are the right transit projects, and whether or not we want to contribute to them as a region — and I think the answer is yes.”
Ford maintains that a casino can pay for the project without any of the proposals suggested by Metrolinx.