Rob Ford attends an event to launch the Mayor's School Cricket Tournament, April 11, 2013.
Rob Ford is warning that his executive committee could shelve an important transit report that's on its agenda on Tuesday.
The report from the city manager was released last week, and recommends council endorse four measures to raise money for the province's "Big Move" transit plan: development charges, a parking levy, and sales and fuel taxes.
If the report were approved at executive, it would go to council next month for a final vote. Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, is seeking input from municipalities across the region for its $50-billion Big Move funding strategy, which will be released by June.
But speaking to reporters on Monday, the mayor, who is firmly against any new tolls or levies, said his committee could vote to simply "file" the report away, which would block it from getting to council.
"I personally won't be supporting it," Ford said. "I know a couple of my executive members aren't going to support it. But I can't speak for the rest of them right now. It very well could get filed."
At least one other member of Ford's executive agrees.
David Shiner believes the provincial government already has enough money to pay for transit, but has wasted much of it on scandals linked to Ornge, eHealth, and the relocation of two gas-fired power plants in 2011.
Shiner argues that with that track record, the Liberal government shouldn't be asking residents to pay more.
"And then to come back and say, oh, we need money to build transit?" Shiner said.
"I don't want to send this on to council. I don't think we should be looking at any new revenue tools."
But other councillors on Ford's 13-member executive appear unwilling to prevent council from weighing in on the report, which was produced following the high-profile Feeling Congested consultation this winter.
Councillor Michael Thompson thinks the document "needs to go to council."
Thompson, who is Ford's chair of economic development, says he respects the mayor and anyone else who argues that residents are already overtaxed, but he believes the transit system needs serious investment to ensure it's around for future generations.
"We can't just continue to lob the ball and say, it's the province's fault, or [...] Metrolinx's fault," he said. "We're going to have to basically draw a line in the sand and say, okay, here are the things we can accept."
Thompson would not go into detail about which revenue tools he would support, but said a parking levy was worth examining.
Norm Kelly, another executive member, thinks that if Ford wants to put the brakes on revenue tools, he should put forward a viable plan of his own.
"I would like an explanation of the alternatives that are out there, as he sees them," Kelly said, adding that he favours a sales tax increase to pay for subway construction.
Ford has been relatively quiet on transit issues since council voted down his Sheppard subway scheme in March, 2012.
TTC chair Karen Stintz, who has been pushing for revenue tools for months, did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday. But sent out a message on her Twitter account saying she was "confident" the report would be passed at executive.
If Ford's executive were to stifle the report, it would require the support of two-thirds of councillors to get onto council's agenda. It's unclear whether Stintz and her supporters could muster the necessary votes.
Councillor Paula Fletcher, who also supports new revenue tools, accused Ford of being in denial on the transit file. She believes that congestion and car-related pollution have reached dangerous levels and council needs to act fast.
"We have to deal with it one way or another. The head in the sand approach really needs to end," she said.
"Those folks who are trying to turn the clock back to 1952, I'm sorry, the clock just doesn't turn back."
Aside from recommending the four revenue tools to be implemented in the short term, the city manager's report also backed three more mechanisms to be used after the first wave of Big Move projects are completed: high-occupancy vehicle toll lanes, a vehicle registration tax, and road tolls.
The provincial government would have final say on any of the new revenue tools, which proponents say are crucial to alleviating the GTA's growing gridlock problem.