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New Ontario Premier ready to take on road pricing

January 30, 2013

News worth highlighting – from the Toronto Star:

[Incoming premier Kathleen Wynne] signalled she is ready to lead the way when it comes to funding transit to reduce traffic gridlock and boost the economy by helping Greater Toronto and Hamilton residents be more productive.

Asked specifically about fallout from putting tolls on existing roads such as the Gardiner Expressway, she replied firmlywynnejan29_jpg_size_xxlarge_promo: “I’m not saying that … we won’t have to spend political capital to get a revenue stream in place — we absolutely will.

“But if people want to see new infrastructure, if they want to see the transit that we need in the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area) we are going to have to raise the revenue,” said Wynne.

“You’ve got all the city-builders and thinkers saying it. The people in CivicAction, the people at the Toronto Board of Trade — the Toronto Board of Trade has canvassed its members … and those are businesspeople,” she said.

“They recognize that it’s critical for their businesses that this happen so I’m very convinced that this is the moment that we have to step forward.”

Citing the June 2011 board of trade report, Reaching Top Speed, warning gridlock costs the local economy $6 billion annually, Wynne said the situation is urgent.

“The reason I put that out in my leadership campaign was that I wanted everyone to know that I’m going to do that. I’m not going to retreat on that,” she said, noting Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, one of her prominent supporters, has emphasized the need for revenue tools for transit. …

Wynne also made the point that user-pay measures should appeal to right-of-centre voters.

“If that’s not a conservative policy then I don’t know what is.”

This adds a new dynamic: real leadership from the top.

In B.C., the Premier has only indicated what she’s against, not what she would support.  The Minister of Transportation has only articulated rules for discussion, not taken a position.  The NDP is avoiding as much as it can any pre-election obligations.  The business community is largely silent.  Individual mayors have talked up road pricing, but the Mayors Council has neither staff nor mandate to pursue it.  And the Board of TransLink – well, it doesn’t involve itself in ‘politics'; it’s there to manage the decline of the transit system.  Meanwhile the Pattullo Bridge and Massey Tunnel replacements continue to move forward.

There is, consequently, no one to set the bar, to begin the negotiations, to spend political capital in pursuit of a vision for “the transit that we need.”

Our absence of leadership really becomes apparent when it’s visible somewhere else.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Agustin permalink
    January 30, 2013 10:18 am

    Good stuff! And so early in her mandate, too. It signals that this is a priority.

    I hope that she has enough political capital in the bank to get the job done.

  2. Sandy James permalink
    January 30, 2013 12:32 pm

    Good for her! Can she run for Mayor of Toronto too?

  3. January 30, 2013 1:42 pm

    A good two-pronged plan: reduce congestion + gain revenues for transit. Let’s hope there’s a third prong — increased use of other alternatives like cycling. Perhaps some of the revenues can be diverted to bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

    Of course, my sentimental choice for dealing with the Gardiner would be to bury it and build a park, but that would cut into the revenues. Or would it? If they developed the land with a mix of residential, commercial and recreational they could generate tax revenues. And open up the waterfront. And make people healthier. Without the Ford Casino.

  4. Mr. Motorist permalink
    July 11, 2013 9:00 pm

    Transit, transit, transit… whine, whine, whine… Good God! We need more investments in roads, highways and expressways – NOT more transit!!!!

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