Ontario and Toronto strike deal on highways, housing and parkland
By Adam FreillCommercial Construction Infrastructure
New deal puts Toronto on path to long-term financial sustainability, and brings Ontario Place revitalization closer to reality.
The Government of Ontario and City of Toronto have reached a new deal that will help achieve long-term financial stability and sustainability for the city, while simplifying project approvals for the provincial desire to revitalize Ontario Place.
Following 10 weeks of working group discussions to find collaborative solutions to the city’s operating and capital deficits, an agreement was reached that the province says will put the city on a path to succeed.
“This historic new deal will help support the future growth of Toronto, delivering shared priorities like building homes, public transit and infrastructure,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Toronto is critical to Ontario and Canada’s economic success, and we need all levels of government working together to deliver solutions that protect services and put the city on a path towards long-term financial sustainability. When Toronto succeeds, Ontario and Canada succeed.”
As part of this new deal, Ontario has agreed to provide the city with up to $1.2 billion in provincial operating supports over three years and significant capital relief. This will include $330 million in annual operating funding over three years beginning in 2024–2025 for new subway-integrated provincial transit projects — the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the Finch West LRT.
Shelters will receive $600 million in additional operating support, conditional on federal support being provided for refugee and asylum claimants, and provincially owned lands in Toronto will be identified so that homes can be built in the city.
The city also uploaded both the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway to the province, subject to third-party due diligence. This proposal, said the province, will ensure these highways’ long-term sustainability for the benefit of drivers and commerce across the Greater Toronto Area as toll-free highways.
The province will also provide over $750 million in funding for 55 new subway trains for the TTC’s Line 2, conditional on matching federal support, in addition to $300 million in one-time funding for subways and transit safety, recovery and sustainability that includes commitments on the part of the city related to increased police or safety officer presence on and near transit, continued expansion of transit rider cellular and data services across the TTC network and enhanced emergency reporting options and response timelines for riders.
“This new deal means unlocking Toronto’s potential. It means the city has billions more for affordable housing, fixing our aging transit system and building complete communities with child care, community centres, parks and more,” said Mayor Olivia Chow. “When all orders of government work together on shared priorities, we can deliver more for the people of Toronto.”
As part of this deal, the city accepted that the province has the authority to advance project approvals for Ontario Place, something the Ford government intends to do imminently. The province has also agreed to explore relocating the parking structure to the Exhibition Place grounds to improve public access to the shoreline and to discuss partnership opportunities with the city for maintaining public, community-oriented science programming at the legacy Ontario Science Centre.
To move forward on this new deal, the government will introduce the New Deal for Toronto Act, which, if passed, would provide the necessary authorities to make this deal a reality.