|Paul Bedford told the forum|
"vision without implementation
(Toronto Star photo)
The forum, held at the Markham Civic Centre on May 12 was organized by five grassroots groups to review potential funding tools for ambitious transportation plans in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area (GTHA)
The event, attended by more than 150 participants, included resident group leaders, elected officials, transportation experts and the general public from across the GTHA. Participants were able to vote on their preferences using handheld electronic devices and pose questions to a six person panel including University of Toronto professors Eric Miller and Matti Siemiatycki, planner Paul Bedford, Metrolinx’ John Howe, Toronto Board of Trade’s Richard Joy and Markham’s Director of Engineering Alan Brown.
Metrolinx VP John Howe said, “What's holding us back from being one of the world's truly great regions is underinvestment in transit”. The Big Move plan will cost $50 billion over 25 years and is only 20% funded. Richard Joy noted that the pro-business Board of Trade has been advocating for new funding tools for over two years. Professor Siemiatycki outlined various funding tool options and examined some of the experiences of other metropolitan areas. He pointed to Los Angeles. and Vancouver as good examples to follow. He felt the GTHA needs a basket of revenue generating tools including general taxes and user fees.
Paul Bedford called for bold action stating, “vision without implementation is hallucination” and received strong approval from the participants. Professor Miller used the recent Sheppard Avenue subway vs LRT controversy as an example of how not to plan transportation projects, due to political interference in the planning process.
Markham’s Allan Brown spoke of the need for projects that will get people moving sooner such as Markham Regional Councilor Jim Jones’ proposal to convert the Stouffville GO line into a frequent two-way electrified service with stations every 1 – 2km.
John Howe said Metrolinx has a deadline of June 2013 to deliver a report on new funding tools to the provincial government, and was looking to engage the public over the next year on this politically sensitive topic.
For more information: www.urbanneighbourhoods.ca. including copies of presentations and survey results.