Will others follow Toronto with tolls?
With Toronto council endorsing plans to apply tolls to the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, the Ontario Trucking Association is openly wondering if other municipalities will follow suit.
Toronto’s decision creates “a whole new ballgame”, the group says, responding to this week’s vote. The city’s tolling plan could be implemented between 2019 and 2024, but it still needs to be approved by the province.
“Toronto has made its decision and we anticipate the provincial government will give the city the greenlight to implement the tolls,” says Stephen Laskowski, association president. “Our focus will now be on making sure future toll revenues are used to pay for the cost of the Gardiner reconstruction; that the collection and administration of the toll system uses the latest technology to maximize efficiency for both the road user and the city; [that a tolling system] uses variable pricing, including zero rating commercial vehicles during certain time periods, to encourage businesses to ship or receive goods during off-peak periods; and, that Toronto and any other municipalities thinking of introducing tolls coordinate their efforts so we don’t end up with a patchwork of toll collection systems.”
The province could play a role in helping to coordinate such tolls in different municipalities, he adds.
“Of course, we don’t like tolls. Who does? However, we acknowledge that sometimes and under certain conditions they could be the only way certain new highway infrastructure projects will ever get built,” Laskowski says. “So, if this is the road we are going down, let’s take the time to do it right so the burden on everyone is minimized.”