The past few years have definitely been interesting for the city of Toronto. Various groups have indicated that Toronto is full of waste and inefficiencies. On the other hand, the Federal government is awash with cash. There is definitely a problem with money on all three levels of government. However, what David Miller needs to see is that people do not mind spending more, if they believe that money is properly spent. However, when a council decides not to tender a subway contract and spend money on services that may be seen as unnecessary, its no wonder that there is so much criticism. At some point Toronto City council will realize that before the city claims for bankruptcy.
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With the amount of vehicle interference in the downtown area once again the issues of streetcars has surfaced. With the need to improve transit, the debate over mixed traffic and streetcars, now and again pops up with the discussion turning to the old idea of a Queen Streetcar Subway. Unfortunately there is just too much development, which would make the cost of a full subway astronomically. However to be honest it is not really needed. With all of the talk about “Transit City” and the plans for major LRT improvements across the Toronto region little discussion has been some discussion about upgrading Queen and King Street. There has been discussion on resurrecting the idea of a subway or partial LRT / subway. But, there is something about the Queen and King Street that makes it not suitable anymore for subway use. There is a bit a “nostalgia” about the streetcar, especially in the downtown region of Toronto. However, improvements are definitely needed to improve the speed of streetcar service on Queen and King.
What some may not know is the fact that Queen and King carry enough people to justify a full subway. Granted, Queen and King does not need a subway, since it would just destroy the beauty of Queen and King. The amount of people using Queen and King justify it more than an extension to Vaughan or even the much ill-fated, uncompleted and neutered Sheppard Subway. Although there has been a lot of opposition the possibility of making Queen and King a “Transit Mall” this maybe the best option to fix the service needs of Queen and King. It may also be a better option to place Queen and King underground between Jarvis and just after University. On Queen, the original Queen Subway proposal already has a partially built subway tunnel. However, with a full “Transit Mall” between these locations it would not be necessary. Albeit, it could start at Church, instead of Jarvis. It’s extremely unfortunate that funds being tied up in the subway extension to Vaughan could have been used to built an elaborate LRT network around the entire city. Downsview Station is good enough and the extension to York University and beyond should be via a LRT network. In fact, let VIVA expand their own service using LRT technology to York University and let the TTC concentrate on service within the Toronto borders. But I digress!
“Transit Malls” exist in numerous places around North America, such as Calgary, Ottawa and places in the United States. It can work here! David Miller and city council need to move forward with a “Transit Mall”, with proper consultation. There will be opposition from businesses along Queen Street initially. However we are only talking about a small area of the downtown region. Adelaide and Richmond Streets parallel the downtown area and with improved transit service we may have the opportunity to make a substantial improvement to downtown life. Improving the atmosphere and experience of Toronto is a must. Those in opposition often quickly point to subways as the “answer” to everything. However, when you ask them who’s going to pay for it? Well, enough said! The same problems are happening now on Yonge Street now, north of Steeles. We do not need a subway into York Region; however we now have groups trying to stop the development of LRT’s for the region. Although I love subway trains financially they are just no longer viable. Queen and King can use a “Transit Mall”. It can do done, as long as it is done right!
By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The G.T.A Patriot”
For additional details on Toronto “Transit Mall” proposals and interesting debates check out the links below:
In an effort to provide more information about the Queen Streetcar and its history, ups and downs please take some times to view the links below.
Posted in GTA Development, GTA Environment, GTA Issues, Public Transit
Tagged Adelaide, ALRV, CLRV, David Miller, Downview Subway, King, King Street, King Streetcar, LRT, Queen, Queen Street, Queen Streetcar, Queen Subway, Richmond Street, right-of-way, ROW, Sheppard Subway, streetcar, Subway, Toronto, Toronto Council, Toronto Transit Commission, Transit City, Transit Mall, TTC, Viva, York University, YRT
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”
Posted in Canada, GTA Development, GTA Environment, GTA Politics, Public Transit, Toronto
Tagged , 2007, City of Toronto, Dalton McGuinty, David Miller, Denzil Minnan-Wong, DVP, Go Transit, Joe Pantalone, land-transfer, Liberals, Markham, Move 2020, Move2020, Real Estate, richmond hill, tax, Taxes, Tolls, Toronto Council, Transit City, Vaughan, York Region
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.”
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Posted in Canada, GTA Issues, GTA Politics
Tagged 2007, City of Toronto, David Miller, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Joe Pantalone, land-transfer, tax, Taxes, Toronto Council