Zero to $200 million in three months.
That’s how Ontario taxpayers’ commitment has grown toward financing the reconstruction of nearly all the service stations with direct access to Highways 401 and 400.
No one had expected the massive job to be quick or easy.
But motorists who are now enduring bladder-busting gaps between service centres as they close for renovations were originally told that the company awarded the contract to rebuild and run the stations would pay the bill.
“The province will not have to invest taxpayer dollars into redeveloping and maintaining this vital government service,” a question-and-answer section of the Ministry of Transportation website said in February.
Then in April, when a contract was awarded to Host Kilmer Service Centres – a partnership that includes the Toronto Maple Leafs’ part-owner Larry Tanenbaum – Host Kilmer said it was on the hook for about $100 million of the $300 million redevelopment cost.
The rest of the money – $200 million – will come from the public purse. Government officials now say the province will “fully recover” its investment over the life of the 50-year deal through a revenue-sharing agreement. They will not disclose details.
Host Kilmer, meanwhile, trumpets in a press release that it will rake in revenue of $100 million a year from operating the service centres – or $9 billion over the life of the agreement.