Thursday, March 1, 2012

Councillor Ford says lottery could fund Toronto subways

TORONTO - Councillor Doug Ford floated the idea of a Toronto lottery or casino to help fund transit Thursday while slamming the brakes on talk of resurrecting the city’s car tax.

Ford stressed his brother Mayor Rob Ford would be “pushing up tulips” before resurrecting the car tax to pay for the Sheppard subway. Councillor Ford raised three revenue ideas to help pay for the Sheppard subway including a dedicated lottery, a casino in his Etobicoke ward and new toll lanes added to the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway.

“Rob will be pushing up tulips before he reinstates that car tax,” Ford told reporters at City Hall Thursday. “It is one of the four options, it is one of the four options we aren’t going to do, it is very simple.”

City council meets March 21 to debate the future of transit on Sheppard Ave. Ford is pushing to extend the Sheppard subway while left-leaning councillors want to revive the Sheppard LRT from the Transit City plan.

As the Sun reported, Mayor Ford has reached out to councillors asking them in private meetings which of four revenue tools they would support to fund the Sheppard subway including a $100 car tax, a 0.5% sales tax, road tolls and a parking levy.

Mayor Ford went on John Tory’s NEWSTALK 1010 show Thursday night and vowed he’s against reviving the car tax.

“The last thing I would ever do is to bring back the car registration tax,” Ford told Tory.

“I will guarantee there will never be a tax on cars again ... there will not be any new taxes administered by my administration,” he added.

His brother was equally as blunt.

“We’re against all taxes,” Councillor Ford stated. “All taxes are evil as far as I’m concerned.”

He did acknowledge the parking levy would be “the least of all evils.”

As for road tolls, Ford was adamant he doesn’t support tolls on existing roads.

“If there was a way at building additional couple lanes going down the Gardiner and the DVP, we would consider road tolls,” he said.

Ford stressed he was just “throwing” ideas out there by suggesting a casino or transit lottery.

Officials from Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation stressed they don’t have a mandate to do localized lotteries.

“The OLG has always resisted special purpose lotteries for the main reason that there would be no end to the demand,” OLG chairman Paul Godfrey told the Sun’s Joe Warmington Thursday.

Godfrey said lottery revenue can be used to fund government projects but such requests are not the OLG’s mandate.

TTC chair Karen Stintz said Mayor Ford did mention a $100 car tax in a meeting with her and Councillor John Parker.

“It was our comment back to the mayor that perhaps that wouldn’t be the most effective way to proceed,” Stintz said.

“We just repealed the vehicle registration tax at $60, I think that was a mandate vote and I think the people of Toronto would be not supportive of raising the fee and actually reimposing it.”

Councillor Adam Vaughan said if Ford wants to host a casino in his ward, he’s entitled to ask for it but he stressed council needs to decide on transit on Sheppard this month.

“I am not interesting in putting off until tomorrow a debate about tomorrow, I think we should make a decision today,” he said.

- With files from Joe Warmington

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