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Toronto taxpayers are getting a good deal on a public-private partnership that provides street furniture and substantial revenue at no cost to the city.
Our last column focused on the first and second generations of the deplorable waste bins included in the 20-year contract with Astral Out of Home, which break down and fall apart with regular use.
But it wouldn’t be fair to not accentuate some of the positives in a report to city council at the halfway point of the deal, including good news on transit shelters still to come, and the dough the city earns every year.
After 10 years, Toronto has raked in more than $ 168 million as its share of Astral’s revenue from selling ads posted on transit shelters and other street furniture, including $ 19.3 million in the last fiscal year. When the deal expires in 2027, the city will have earned at least $ 445 million.
The guaranteed minimum annual revenue in the current fiscal year is set at just over $ 20 million, with the possibility of even more. It amounts to 32 per cent of Astral’s gross ad revenues, a fixed percentage for the remainder of the contract.
It also provides 24,500 pieces of street furniture — including garbage bins, transit shelters, benches, information pillars, poster boards and even public toilets — with a value of $ 202 million, at no cost to taxpayers.
So far, Astral has front-loaded the deal to provide 3,944 new transit shelters of the 5,071 it has committed to over 20 years, mostly as replacements for aging “legacy” shelters.
And here’s a nugget for TTC riders pining for a shelter at stops that currently don’t have one: Most new shelters “are now being installed at locations that have never had a shelter before, and hundreds more will follow in the next few years.”
So the focus on shelters still to come will be on placing them at stops that could really use them. And in places where there isn’t quite enough space for a full-sized shelter, the city has allocated $ 100,000 to pay for slivers of property just big enough for a shelter, starting with 24 locations.
Public-private partnerships often seem to benefit the private partners more than the public. But this one looks like a good deal for everybody.
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