Mayor says new federal funding will help Toronto’s cash crunch

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow has mixed feelings about the money heading the city’s way, per the 2024 federal budget tabled this week.On one hand, she’s applauding new money earmarked to help the city address its affordability crisis. On the other, Chow says she’s disappointed in the lack of money for the TTC.”For Torontonians, we can start building and some percentage of it will be affordable,” Chow told reporters Tuesday.”I’m very encouraged to see the federal budget emphasizing the building of housing.”Billions of dollars will flow to municipalities to build new housing as part of the federal plan to build nearly 3.9 million homes in Canada by 2031. Exactly how much of that will go to Toronto remains to be seen.The mayor is concerned, however, that asks for funding to host the FIFA World Cup games in 2026, as well as asks for TTC top-up money have gone unanswered by the federal government.Mayor Olivia Chow expressed her disappointment Tuesday that the federal government wouldn’t be supplying the City of Toronto with funding to purchase new subway trains for Line 2 at this time. (CBC)The city had asked the government for new money to buy new subway cars for Line 2, replacing the current aging fleet. The province pledged $758 million on new subway cars last fall, provided the federal government also step up.”We are still not able to submit our order,” Chow said. “The permanent transit funds will not start until 2026. We are not able to unlock the $1.6 billion that we have put aside.”No TTC funding top-upIn a statement, the TTC said CEO Rick Leary, along with the heads of Montreal and Vancouver’s transit agencies, jointly asked the federal government in March to advance the Permanent Transit Fund to 2024 from 2026.”Without the new subway trains, we can’t start modernization of Line 2 and this could result in service quality degradation and reliability concerns, at a time when investment is being made to extend the line further into Scarborough,” Leary said.Transit advocacy group TTCriders is also disappointed that the federal government isn’t matching the funding.”Ordering subway trains is not like ordering something on Amazon,” said Shelagh Pizey-Allen, the group’s director. “It takes years to deliver them and the funding is needed as soon as possible.”A 2023 TTC staff report says ordering 80 subway cars — which includes 55 replacement trains for Line 2 and 25 trains for Line 1 — would cost $3.23 billion. The report also says the Line 2 trains would begin getting delivered by 2030 at the earliest, which is four years past the fleet’s expected end of life.”The longer we wait, the more expensive the trains will get and it will actually prevent the TTC from moving forward with other upgrades,” Pizey-Allen said.Per the TTC staff report, the TTC needs to order the trains by 2030 latest or risk the price tag climbing to $3.74 billion. The mayor says she will continue to negotiate funding for subway trains with the federal government, and says she is “hopeful” that the funding will be found. New funding for the artsThe Toronto International Film Festival is receiving $23 million over three years to develop Canadian and international screen content. (Michael Wilson/CBC)The 2024 federal budget also includes $23 million in spending over the next three years for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).”This funding will be instrumental in the development and launch of a groundbreaking new initiative: an official market for Canadian and international screen content,” the organization told CBC Toronto in a statement.TIFF lost financial support from its longtime partner Bell last year, and it’s not the only local arts organization facing tough financial times. Organizers of the Hot Docs Festival have signaled this may be its last edition. And Just For Laughs Canada declared bankruptcy earlier this year, cancelling its festivals in both Toronto and Montreal.”Culture at large is really at a transitional point,” TIFF’s chief programming officer Anita Lee told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. “There is a way forward, but it’s a time that requires significant support both from the public and private sector.”Metro Morning4:11Why $23 million dollars in federal funding will make a ‘significant difference’ for the future of TIFFAnita Lee is Chief Programming Officer for the Toronto International Film Festival. Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, which boasts local arts, cultural and recreational programming, is also getting a federal funding boost.This year’s budget proposes $10 million over two years to allow for critical repairs to be done to the facility’s infrastructure.”Harbourfront Centre introduces Toronto audiences to a broad range of programming not typically shown at commercial venues, positioning it as a key economic and cultural asset for the city, which attracts millions of visitors every year,” according to the 2024 budget.The Trudeau government is also committing $1.1 billion over three years to provide emergency funding for refugee claimants coming to Toronto, $400 million of which will be available this year.

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