According to an article in the Toronto Star, the mayoral race in Toronto is being contested in part based on the candidates' visions for transit. Of note, it seems that the veracity of their proposals has come down to a discussion of the value capture mechanisms they propose to fund their plans. Candidates have discussed using property taxes and TIF districts.
In addition, a Toronto Life article discusses the feasibility of Doug Ford's plan to fund his ambitious transit platform with sales of city-owned properties near proposed transit improvements. Ford suggests that the city's existing land value capture agency, Build, could be the source of funds. However, others disagree.
If history is anything to go by, the odds aren’t good. So far this year, Build has only sold one property, for $3.7 million. In 2013, it didn’t sell anything at all, and actually lost $2.1 million. “There’s absolutely no record of achievement,” says Schulich School of Business real estate professor James McKellar, who attributes Build’s underwhelming performance to political interference.
As has always been the case, Toronto is somewhere that transit value capture aficionados should watch carefully.
Ian Carlton is a transportation and land use expert specializing in transit-oriented development (TOD). He helps clients - including transit agencies, planning departments, and landowners - optimize real estate development around transit.
Special thanks to Burt Gregory at Mithun for permission to use the Portland Streetcar image above.