Creative Financing for the Sheppard Subway

The City of Toronto has issued a proposal call on behalf of Toronto Transit Infrastructure Limited (TTIL) for consultants to work on the business model for the extensions of the Sheppard Subway.

One option previously discussed to fund transit expansion has been “Tax Increment Financing”.  Comments in various places, including from members of the development industry, suggested that the scale of development needed on Sheppard Avenue to finance the subway extensions was not attainable.

We now know that the Ford regime intends to cast the net much wider to fund their pet project:

The plan will assume that the incremental tax revenues arising from the construction of the proposed Sheppard subway extension corridors as well as from the construction of the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown line can be applied towards funding the capital costs of the Sheppard subway extension projects. The plan will provide a separate forecast of incremental tax revenues for each of the four corridors (Sheppard W., Sheppard E., Eglinton, Scarborough RT).

In other words, additional tax will flow not just from Sheppard, but from the Eglinton-Scarborough line funded by Queen’s Park.  This begs the question of how we would ever fund rapid transit entirely with TIF revenue when we must raid the benefits of other projects.

The Memorandum of Understanding between Mayor Ford and Queen’s Park does not specify where TIF would be applied, only that it is an option to be explored and Queen’s Park would assist with any necessary legislative changes.

This is turning into a shell game where future city revenues that would pay for many improvements and ongoing operations will be mortgaged to fund one subway expansion.

[Thanks to Jamie Kirkpatrick at the Toronto Environmental Alliance for spotting this.]