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Rookie councillor to put road tolls, regional sales tax before council

Vehicles travel on the Highway 407 toll road north of Toronto.

Louie Palu/Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail

Councillor Josh Matlow is pushing to get the controversial topic of road tolls and a regional sales tax on next month's council agenda.

The rookie councillor says he will put forward a motion, which he says will be backed by TTC Chair Karen Stintz, that proposes setting up a working group with other GTA governments and the province to look at tolls and taxes dedicated to transit in the region.

Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, already is studying the topic of alternate revenue sources, but Mr. Matlow argues his initiative would contribute to that debate.

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He said he also wants to bring some financial reality to the debate over subways.

"I believe this will be a test. If a councillor or the mayor says they want to build a subway, this is a test of whether they are serious or not about doing it."

Mayor Rob Ford has said repeatedly that he will not support toll roads. He also has vowed to continue to fight for subways after losing a battle with council that resulted in the revival of the Transit City light-rail plan at the expense of his plans for an expanded subway on Sheppard.

Last fall, Mr. Matlow wanted staff to examine tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway for drivers from outside the city. That initiative failed to get the required support at council. Asked why it will be different this time, Mr. Matlow said "things have changed."

"I believe the appetite is much larger now to get real about funding the next phase of transit expansion," he said.

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