GTA transit expansion needs new money: Wynne
Christina Commisso, CTV Toronto
Published Wednesday, April 17, 2013 11:29AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 17, 2013 12:49PM EDT
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says new revenue streams are necessary to fund a $2 billion-a-year transit expansion aimed at easing gridlock in the GTA.
Wynne made the comments on Wednesday while addressing a crowd at the CivicAction forum, where she said it’s a “misconception” that the money required to fix transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area can be found in the existing provincial budget.
“New money has to be found,” Wynne said.
The Liberal Leader pointed to a CivicAction poll that showed 71 per cent of residents in the region are fed up with gridlock and traffic congestion, while only 43 per cent believe new funds must be raised to find a solution.
“That opinion gap is what I’m addressing today,” she said.
The 25-year Metrolinx plan, called “The Big Move,” includes an extension of the Yonge subway into York Region, new rapid transit in Mississauga, Brampton and Hamilton, a downtown Toronto relief subway line and changes to the GO Transit rail network.
The plan also includes improvements to roads, highways and green transportation options, such as walking and cycling.
Ideas to fund the $50-billion expansion have included road tolls on HOV lanes, a fuel tax and a parking space levy.
However, the idea of a new, dedicated revenue stream to fund transit has been met with opposition at both the provincial and municipal level.
On Tuesday, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford dismissed a city staff report the calls on council to support a regional sales tax, gas tax, commercial parking levy and increased development charges to fund the transit expansion.
Similarly, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has also rejected the idea of new transit taxes, saying Ontarians can’t afford the added costs.
“I can’t control what my opposition (believes),” Wynne said Wednesday. “The reality is there are people within those constituencies, whatever party you’re talking about, who agree with position that I’m taking.”
Metrolinx is expected to release its report on funding strategies for The Big Move by June.
Wynne said she is much closer to a “coalition of support” for a dedicated transit funding stream compared to six months ago.
“I’m being clear right now: we’re going to move on this whether it’s this bundle of tools or that bundle of tools,” Wynne said. “We’re going to take action.”