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Chow wants to invest in downtown relief line & TTC repairs

Mayoral hopeful Olivia Chow says her long-term transit plan includes investing a billion dollars for both state of good repairs and TTC expansion such as a downtown relief line.

“I will invest in both,” she told a business crowd during a luncheon at the Toronto Region Board of Trade on Tuesday. “That helps people in every corner of our city right now.”

Chow said if the city is going to keep property tax hikes at reasonable rates, at around two per cent a year, she believes the Scarborough subway that mayoral rivals, Rob Ford and John Tory, favour is the “wrong choice.”

“We can’t max our ability to invest by spending a billion dollars on the Scarborough subway,” she said, preferring light-rail transit instead which would provide riders with four more stops and costs less time and money to build.

In recent days, Chow said she also wants better bus service by investing $15 million a year to boost rush-hour service by 10 per cent, as well as nix the Scarborough subway for light-rail transit.

She said that the Scarborough subway will trigger a 30-year property tax hike.

“If we go with their plan we won’t be able to build anything else or fix anything else — not now not for a very long time,” Chow said.

As Toronto mayor, Chow said she’d also tell Queen’s Park and Ottawa to fix some imbalances.

“In my first meeting with the premier I will ask this: why does the province help pay Go Transit’s operating cost but not TTC’s operating cost? Why not the City of Toronto? Give us the answer. Why?”

She said the province used to cover half the cost to run the TTC.

“It doesn’t anymore. That’s not fair,” she said, adding it must be addressed.

At the national level, Chow, who was the NDP’s transportation critic in the House up until last month, would push for a national transit strategy and join the Big City Mayors caucus to let Ottawa know that Canada has great natural beauty of mountains, prairies and tundra but it’s not where people live.

“People live around strip malls and apartment towers and bus stops,” she said. “We need to invest in people. So fix the imbalance.”

She said “We need some of our tax dollars back because it’s just not right.”

Chow said the other governments get 92 cents per tax dollar that Toronto generates in taxes. “We only get eight [cents back]. So we need to address that imbalance. Our city can’t do it alone.”

Chow, a former NDP MP, resigned her Trinity-Spadina seat in March to run for Toronto mayor.