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Ontario Proposes Banning Tolls on All Provincial Highways, Except for One Exception

The Ontario government has legislation in the works that will ban tolls on all provincial highways with the exception of Highway 407.

If approved by the Legislature, the ban would apply to the 400-series highways as well as the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway once they are uploaded to the province.

Minister of Transportation Prabmeet Sarkaria announced the move Feb. 15, saying the province is “on a mission to keep costs down for families and businesses.”

“First, we scrapped the tolls on Highways 412 and 418, now we’re protecting drivers from the costs of new tolls,” Mr. Sarkaria said in a press release.

The proposed legislation, which is expected to be tabled next week, would amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act to prevent tolls from being placed on provincial highways in the future. The act may include a requirement for public consultation before any new toll can be considered.

The toll ban is just one element in a series of driving-related changes planned by the province. Other changes include a permanent freeze on driver’s licence and photo card fees and the automatic renewal of licence plates.

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“Together with our cut in the gas tax and eliminating the licence plate sticker fee, we’re saving drivers hundreds of dollars every year,” Mr. Sarkaria said.

Premier Doug Ford announced Feb. 13 the government’s plan to automate licence plate renewals later this year. The province is also planning to make the current freeze on driver’s licence and Ontario Photo Card fees permanent through upcoming legislation as part of its Get It Done Act.

Ontario Trucking Association President Stephen Laskowski described the toll ban and other provincial initiatives as the “type of legislative measure” all governments should be implementing.

He said the move will help to control inflation while also helping the “entire supply chain and families reduce their costs.”

“Preventing future governments from arbitrarily placing tolls on the supply chain without due diligence and consultation is a measure welcomed by the Ontario Trucking Association,” he said.

407 Tolls and Future Roads

While tolls could soon be a thing of the past on provincial roadways, drivers using Highway 407 won’t receive the same relief.

The section of the 407 East that is provincially owned will continue to be a toll road, as will the privately owned section between Burlington and Pickering.

The tolls for the section owned by private company 407 ETR increased as of Feb. 1 after a four-year rate freeze.

Light vehicle owners will notice an increase of one to 11 cents per kilometre depending on the time of day and zone travelled, the company said in a press release.

The province has also promised to address congestion in the GTA by constructing Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass.

“These highways will bring relief to one of the most congested corridors in North America, helping commuters save 30 minutes a trip,” the government said in its press release.

The 413 will extend from Highway 400 in the east to the Highway 401/407 express toll route interchange area in the west and will boast four to six lanes.

The Bradford Bypass will be a four-lane freeway that will connect Highway 400 and Highway 404 in Simcoe County and York Region.

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