Move the GTHA Virtual Town Hall draws over 13,000 participants

Move the GTHA Virtual Town Hall draws over 13,000 participants

Posted on February 19th, by Move the GTHA in Civic Engagement, Featured, Discussion. No Comments

Phoenix, Arizona’s Metro Light Rail is expanding with new, dedicated funding. Dedicated revenue tools have been proposed for the GTHA’s transit expansion. (Photo: Kinkisharyo)

On January 30, Move the GTHA hosted a Virtual Town Hall with panelists John Tory, Chair of CivicAction and Michael Sutherland, Director of Economic Analysis and Investment Strategy at Metrolinx. The panel spoke with residents from across the GTHA about funding transportation in the region.

With over 13,000 participants on the line, facilitator John Brodhead, Executive Director at Evergreen CityWorks, lead the discussion as residents posed questions to our panelists.

“The audience asked some terrific questions. They were tough, smart and fair, and made us really engage in the issues that residents of the region were concerned about,” said Mr. Brodhead.

One of the core concerns that emerged included the need for a dedicated fund for transportation, so that residents know their money is being accounted for and is dedicated to expanding our regional transportation network.

Metrolinx’s Michael Sutherland emphasized the role of planning and investing as a region saying, “if you look around the world at large city regions, they have agencies like a Metrolinx, and they have dedicated funds with accounting and provisions that ensure the dedicated funds are directed to dedicated projects. That’s the discussion that we’re having here in this region, do we want to be like other great regions that are set up to build transportation continuously?”

John Tory responded with support for dedicated revenue tools, adding that many regions across North America have introduced new taxes or fees dedicated to transportation. “Vancouver has special taxes on gas to pay for their transit, Los Angeles approved a sales tax to do it, Montreal has special taxes. So you don’t even have to go very far away to find examples of where they have made this decision and they’re getting on with building the transit system because they know they have to.”

“My favourite example is Los Angeles, not exactly what we think of as the transit capital of North America, who just voted to increase their sales tax to build transit. Because they’ve said that enough is enough, in terms of the traffic,” added Brodhead, “Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Atlanta, these are not exactly what you would think of as pro-transit communities, who are all making the move. So it will be interesting to see what move we take next.”

The transportation conversation in the GTHA has been heating up over the past 12 months, which has seen Metrolinx present their Investment Strategy in May 2013 and the release of the Golden Report on transit investment last December.

“This is a critical point for this debate. We need people to talk to their neighbours, talk to their friends and family, and ask our elected leaders the tough questions about this issue. We need to demand answers on what will be done to alleviate the crushing economic, environmental and social burden of traffic congestion,” said Mr. Brodhead.

In his closing remarks, John Tory added that this plan is “the opportunity of a generation, to make a big difference in the quality of life for people who commute back and forth to work, to make a big difference, positively, in the economy, to make sure that we live up to our billing as a great city region”

Tory furthered this sentiment, arguing “nothing is free. And so we have to figure this out in a way that respects the taxpayers money and is transparent and I think now is the time. If we don’t do it now, we’re going to be sorry we didn’t because we will miss another opportunity to do something that is so crucial to life in this region.”

What you can do:

Sign the pledge to get a move on.

Find out what residents said about their commute through the Move the GTHA online survey.



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