Tag Archives: City of Toronto

Merging the TTC and GO under GTTA control?


The Toronto Star, CityTV (Breakfast Television) and other media outlets are reporting that the TTC maybe “high-jacked” by the Liberal Government of Ontario, which may have been secretly planned all along. Rumors are flying high that the TTC may be taken over by the Government of Ontario and merged with GO Transit, under the umbrella of the GTTA (Greater Toronto Transit Authority). Many have believed that this would eventually happen, since the TTC has become so large and important to the welfare of the GTA that it may have become just too large for the City of Toronto to handle. Of course speculation is that this may have been their plans all along. Many have wondered, for a while now, why the province was so adamant on expanding the TTC into Vaughan, and beyond, when it seem illogical for Toronto to care on managing transit into the other regions of Toronto. Greg Sorbara, one of the proponents of the plan, tied up funds to ensurCity Halle that the expansion into Vaughan took place. If this is the case it may have simply been the master plan of the province. Now the Liberal Government has a majority and there would be no stopping them from doing this. Of course this is only rumored, however one has to wonder if this was not the plan, than why bother with the GTTA? The Metropass has passed the mythical bar of $100, now costing $109 dollars. With the TTC complaining about funding, almost every year, the province may simply believe that the TTC is just too much for the City of Toronto to handle, removing control of the Toronto symbol from David Millers hands.

Ironically, moving the control of the TTC to the province would allow Toronto to better balance their books, now that council passed the new taxes. In some ways it would seem that the province may have been waiting for the results. Or it maybe a simple choice of choosing what they feel is best. We know that the Liberal government, although they promised, has not uploaded services that were downloaded during the Mike Harris years. What would happen if the province simply decides to take control of the TTC, covering all costs and leave everything else as is? Would, removing the TTC from Toronto’s books balance the budget? It definitely would help, however how would service be affected? Would the province run the service as is, or run it like GO Transit? Would they merge services with GO Transit? Would they start Zone fares? Would you be able to jump on the “GO” and then to the TTC seamlessly? There are hosts of unanswered questions. Or, is it time for the TTC to simply grow up?

TTC StreetcarThe TTC is a Toronto icon, from the storied streetcars of yesteryear to the way the subways were originally created along Yonge Street. I will not go into a rant about the TTC not being able to innovate and change the way they do business. The TTC, unlike other transit systems across North America, receives little Federal funding for operating costs. However, at least the Federal government did kick in the needed funding for the extension of the subway to Vaughan (ill-conceived, but done nonetheless). If this really does happen then some of the moves the government made, along with their promises for Move2020, would make sense. What we should debate is whether this is a good idea or a bad one? I am not sure if this is a good or bad idea, but do not be too quick to jump on the bandwagon? Does the province understand the needs of Malvern, King Street West, Don Mills, North Etobicoke or the Beaches? What about those routes that do not make a lot of money? Will they be continued or operate like other jurisdictions? Do they think streetcars or buses are more important? Do they care to support the “Transit City” initiative or Subway expansion? What does this mean for the YRT and VIVA? How about Mississauga Transit? These are all unanswered questions, which Torontonians, and GTA residents, should think about and want answers to. What maybe good for Markham, Vaughan, Mississauga and others, may not be good for Toronto, and so visa versa. The debate on merging the TTC with GO, and surrounding systems, has been going on for years, with pros and cons on both sides. This was not on the table during the last provincial election; however loosing the TTC may be the evolution of progress or the greatest public transit “coup” ever conceived by the Province of Ontario.

Read more news from the Toronto Star Article, below.
http://www.thestar.com/News/Ontario/article/269896


Andy MJ
a.k.a. “The G.T.A Patriot”

Toronto, Ontario

Tax Me I’m Torontonian


Toronto Council has finally passed the controversial new land-transfer tax and vehicle registration tax/fee. Although a compromise was needed, Toronto should now have the stable funding that they require to run the city. Barring that the housing market does not go bust or everyone in Toronto decides to sell their car. This would never happen? But, I needed to point out the absolute worse case scenario. The new taxes might only initially raise $180-million to $200-million for 2008, less than earlier annual estimates of $356-million. Even with the new taxes, city finance officials say they still need a property tax hike. This also does not stop Toronto Council from considering new entertainment taxes, fees and the possibility, however unlikely, of a toll on the DVP, going into downtown Toronto. A land transfer tax of up to 2 per cent and a $60 fee for motor vehicle registration, which only could have happened with the new powers from the “City of Toronto” act. What will be interesting is the fall-out in the Real Estate market. I doubt there will be much change in the downtown area. Toronto still does not serve the outer regions like Scarborough and Etobicoke with adequate public transit. It should be interesting to see if funding now starts on the “Transit City” plan. There is no excuse now since they have their money and what David Miller wanted. What is interesting is that the Liberals are in power, and based on their “promises, this should be boom time for public transit. The question is, were they all “telling the truth”? Or was this all a rouse to get more money and tax use again later? Only time will tell. I imagine those, with homes just north of Toronto’s Steeles Avenue must be extremely happy. There homes just became a little bit more valuable. There will be those who want to skirt the tax and move a bit north, still within walking distance of the TTC and Toronto. They will be sad to learn that prices in Markham, Thornhill, Vaughan and Woodbridge are already high. However, the major point is that it is now time for “Transit City” to move forward, with no delays! I do not necessarily agree with the new taxes, however David Miller seemed to have no choice. I am also not totally in favour of all of their public transit plans; however something is better than nothing in the “transit world”. Other than the audit of the city contracts and the panel looking into savings for the city, council has done there part. Dalton McGuinty will now have to show if he was telling the truth? The Liberal Ontario government must start with the Move2020 plan now, with no delays or lies or false promises. Let the people in the know, do their work and lets get Toronto moving! Torontonians will now expect “results”, otherwise David Miller and company may find an angry electorate in 2010. Torontonians will be watching!

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a. “The G.T.A Patriot”

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto likely to approve new taxes


Toronto Council is likely to approve two new taxes later today, according to Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone. “I think that the mayor’s compromise is going to pass – that’s my sense, absolutely,” said Pantalone, who represents Ward 19 (Trinity Spadina). “From the discussion, that’s clear what’s going to happen. The opponents are disheartened.”

Pantalone made the comments after council broke for lunch today, in a debate that council has voted to continue until a vote tonight. The debate concerns the imposition of two new taxes – a land transfer tax and a vehicle registration tax – which together will raise $175 million next year.

That number is much reduced from the original package councillors voted to defer in July. That would have seen the city take in $356 million. But a compromise put forward by Mayor David Miller earlier in the day reduces that substantially this year, by among other things exempting first-time homebuyers of homes under $400,000 and grandfathering purchase agreements signed before the end of the year from having to pay the new tax.

Pantalone said the compromise, combined with the newfound support of the Toronto Board of Trade, has tipped the balance in what was an evenly divided council in the mayor’s favour.

Will the vote be close?

“It depends on what close means,” he said. “Does it mean one vote? It will be more than one vote. Is it unanimous? I don’t think it will be unanimous.”

However, it became clear that the tax package’s opponents were losing momentum.

Ward 34 (Don Valley East) Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, one of the most vocal opponents of the tax plan, didn’t move a single motion when he stood up to speak.

“Let me say to the mayor – these taxes are yours,” he said just after the lunch break.

But the delay that we had has worked well to taxpayers’ advantage. We have been told for months that these are necessary. But miraculously, it seems that we can do nicely with $50 million less. This is either a modern day loaves and fishes story or the fact is that this city is a management-free zone.”

read more | digg story

Time to get more use out of the Sheppard Subway line and go west?


To be honest, I love subways and I have a bit of a bias towards the Sheppard Subway line. I have always believed that if the subway was completed, or at least ½ done, than it would have never been considered as an option to close or shut down, in the Toronto tax crunch. I still blame the Harris “conservatives” for their shortsighted plan to fill in the Eglinton West Subway dig, which was already well under way. Along with the plan to offer a no frills Sheppard subway line, stopping it at Don Mills, rather than the obvious Victoria Park, or even better yet Warden Avenue in Scarborough. Regardless, what was done is done and we have a subway that needs finishing. However, there maybe a better plan, that has not been considered. The fact is that the Sheppard line exists and it needs to be completed. One of the transportation issues, I have found, in the city is the lack of an east-west line across the top of the city. Now that the Liberal Government has decided that the subway will go to Vaughan; even though I feel that it should only go to York University for now, consideration should be given to the idea of completing the Sheppard Subway westwards and then curving the Sheppard line north-west to York University and beyond. It was pointed out to me by ‘Cal’, from the Toronto LRT information blog,

“that extending the Sheppard line west to Downsview then up to York U/Steeles may be a better use of the money in terms of providing a more useful connection and making the Sheppard line more useful.”

In addition, the Sheppard Subway lines signaling system and design are based on newer technology, which would allow greater flexibility in the operation of trains (I.e. driver-less subway cars, the possibility of multiple lines, operations in different directions, etc…). It has already been stated that millions (maybe more) would have to be spent to upgrade the Yonge-University and Spadina lines. If this is the case, why not simply complete the Sheppard line westwards, along Sheppard Avenue and then northwards? Along Sheppard we would only need a stop at Bathurst, for now and since the trains are only 4 cars long, for now the platforms could be a bit smaller (in terms of the amount of people using the line). In addition, albeit maybe a bit of pie in the sky thinking, but we could also consider imploring some New York Subway style options in the northern part of Toronto. I remember at one point, before the EA (Environment Assessment) was completed for the Spadina line to York University one of the Toronto councilors wanted the line to go along Finch westwards towards Jane & Finch and beyond, due to the high-density in the area.We all know that the TTC will not send all trains north into Vaughan. I believe that it will be every third train; however I could be wrong (anyone can update me on that one to correct me on the intervals). This means that there will need to be a larger trail-track or interchange at either the Steeles or YorkUniversity stations. If this is the case, why not send one portion northwards into Vaughan and the other westwards along Finch or better yet , using a cheaper option, the Finch Hydro corridor into Etobicoke and beyond, using a Sheppard-Vaughan-Finch line instead? This is just an idea; however I would hope that Toronto officials and the provincial government would think outside the box a bit and complete the Sheppard line. It’s just an idea, but I hope that the Sheppard line put to better use.You will notice that I am not advocating going eastwards to Scarborough Town Centre. I just believe that if we can “kill two birds with one stone”, than lets use the Sheppard Line to complete Greg Sorbara’s dream of a subway to Vaughan and get a little more use out of the subway. I am a big believer in portions of the “Transit City” plan, offered by the City of Toronto. I just feel that we need to somehow finish or put Sheppard to better use. Of course I would have preferred an LRT, for Sheppard in the past, but that was said and done (no sense crying over split milk). If we have no choice, in getting a line to YorkUniversity than why not maximize what we can do for the city, now? Once the Sheppard-Vaughan-Finch line is completed, then we can end this argument and stain on Toronto’s past. We can then move onto using LRT, light-rail and other forms of technology to move people around the Greater Toronto Area. The unfortunate thing is politics, may again get in the way or progress. I can only hope that officials in charge will do the right thing.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario