Federal Government Doles Out Cash for GO Transit and 51 Projects in Mississauga
We at Insauga have written extensively about all-day, two-way GO trains as part of the public transit mix in Mississauga, Peel Region and the rest of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The need for Regional Express Rail (RER) as well as rail electrification is essential to providing some concrete alternatives to the automobile. But it’s ludicrous to believe that cities could have paid for such massive infrastructure projects with their limited tax base or by cutting delivery of essential services. A new federal government got elected on a promise to invest in public transit, and we have been waiting for some time to see whether it would fund something like RER.
Last week, the reality of RER was taken one step closer to becoming reality. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who only visited Brampton and Mississauga mere weeks ago, was in Toronto to announce that the federal government would provide up to $1.8 billion for the GO Transit Regional Express rail project in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area through the Building Canada Fund. Along with their contributions, the federal and the provincial governments are pitching in $4.4 billion to the rail project that will add track and parking capacity and renovate stations in and around Toronto.
Trudeau claimed that this investment will be the single largest transit project in which the federal government has ever invested. Also in attendance were Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Premier Kathleen Wynne and a slew of other politicians from the three levels of government.
With her popularity hitting rock bottom and recent polls showing her Liberals will be severely humbled at the polls if an election were held today, Wynne was no doubt ecstatic in the funding announcement from Trudeau, commenting that with the additional funding weekly trips across the GO rail network will go from 1,500 today to 6,000 by the year 2025.
Besides announcing the money for the RER, Trudeau also announced some 300 additional projects were to be funded through the Public Infrastructure Fund. Fifty-one of those projects are located in Mississauga, and the entire list of projects across Ontario can be seen here. The list of Mississauga projects are somewhere between the list for London and Niagara Falls, but here are some of the highlights:
-IT Project for Switches and Routers for Transit and Traffic Voice and Data Communications to Support the New Network Fiber Design Required for the Advanced Transportation Management System (ATMS) – $225,998
-IT Project for Wireless Infrastructure for Transit and Transit Rider Broadband Connectivity – $150,665
-Bus Communication Gateway Replacement on all MiWay Fleet – $1,506,654
-Installation of 100 additional MiWay Transit Shelters – $1,255,545
-Replacement of Asphalt with concrete Transit Bus Landing Pads at 75 high traffic bus stops – $502,218
-Transit Bus Seat Modification on 84 buses – $753,327
-Transit Capital Bus Engine Maintenance on up to 280 buses – $1,888,008
-Transit Capital Bus Maintenance – Major Component Rehabilitation/Replacement on up to 280 buses – $3,610,948
-Etobicoke Creek Trail reconstruction – trail resurfacing, signage, trail markers and trail user-count technology – $1,135,013
-Acquisition of up to 29 – 60 foot buses to replace aging buses – $13,855,135
-Lakeshore Road Transportation Master Plan – $132,755
-Pedestrian & Cyclist Access to Mississauga’s Transitway & GO Transit Stations – $3,757,047
-Acquisition of up to 10 new transit buses to increase Service Hours – $2,923,222
-Acquisition of up to 51 – 40 foot buses to replace aging buses – $14,776,036
In total, Mississauga will receive $58 million in investments for these 51 separate projects, and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie in response issued this statement to the funding announcement, calling it a “game changer.”
The Prime Minister also responded to a question from a reporter asking why he cancelled the public transit tax credit. Trudeau responded that he believes in ‘evidence-based’ decision making, and from what he has seen, the tax credit did not result in increased transit ridership as it was originally intended. Nor in the Prime Minister’s view did it help low income people who rely in a greater proportion on public transit.
It seems this federal government is looking towards using their leverage and available capital to do big infrastructure projects, as opposed to less dramatic moves made by the previous government, or relying on incentives to spur human behaviour to use public transit that is, as many commentators have put it, less than adequate in a growing region.
GO Transit adds new bus service to Niagara College
Go Transit has added a new bus stop at Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus in an effort to better meet the needs of students, families, and commuters.
Starting April 8, the Route 12 Go Bus will add a stop near the college’s main entrance that will provide connections to Niagara-on-the-Lake Transit, Niagara Region Transit, St. Catharines Transit, and Welland Transit.
Additional weekend express trips have also been added between Burlington GO and Niagara Falls with stops in St. Catharines, Grimsby and Stoney Creek, connecting to Lakeshore West GO Train service at the Burlington GO Station.
For a detailed schedule and more information about schedule changes, click here.
Congratulations to the Alberta NDP
ONTARIO’S NDP LAUNCHES YOUPAYTHEPRICE.CA
Toronto – Ontario’s New Democrats have launched a new website; youpaytheprice.ca as part of their aggressive, multi-platform, anti-hydro privatization campaign.
This online hub gives Ontarians the opportunity to let Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals know just how wrong they think her sell-off of Hydro One really is. It will also help Ontarians to keep up to date on campaign events and stay connected with others who are concerned about Wynne’s short-sighted plan.
“Kathleen Wynne left everyone in the dark when it came to her plan to privatize Hydro. She never ran on this plan, she never consulted Ontarians about it,” said Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath.
“New Democrats are going to shine a light on what this plan will really cost Ontario families.”
The website strengthens the Ontario NDP’s campaign against the privatization of Hydro One which kicked off today at Queen’s Park and which will also include an extensive tour across the province.
“Once our hydro system is gone it’s gone,” said Horwath. “Instead of choosing to close tax loopholes for big corporations, Kathleen Wynne is making Ontario families and small businesses pay the price. New Democrats have heard Ontarians loud and clear and we’re going to fight to keep our hydro system in public hands where it belongs.”
For more information visit: youpaytheprice.ca
Press Release from ATU Canadian Council
FEDERAL BUDGET’S FOCUS ON PRIVATIZATION WASTES MUCH NEEDED PUBLIC TRANSIT FUNDING
April 28, 2015. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO, Ont. – With its recent budget, the Harper government has failed the many cities and towns across Canada that are starved for the funds they need to improve public transit and reduce wasteful congestion in their communities. Instead, the federal budget put off any federal investment in transit until 2017 while at the same time requiring municipalities to waste public money forming discredited public private partnerships (P3s) before they will have any access to these much needed funds.
“Study after study has shown that traffic congestion in Canadian cities is leading to huge social and economic costs. Time and money are being wasted as people and goods sit stuck in traffic due to the government’s failure to invest in transit infrastructure in Canada” says Mike Mahar, Director of ATU Canada.
“With more than $2.7 billion in congestion related economic costs in Southern Ontario alone, ATU Canada had expected that the federal budget would commit significant funds in the budget towards the many municipal transit projects that are planned and ready to go across Canada. That however, didn’t happen.” Mahar continued.
Instead, the Harper government’s budget provides only limited funding for public transit starting two years from now. More importantly, municipalities and transit agencies who want to access those funds will first have to agree to turn their public infrastructure projects over to profit driven public private partnerships.
These partnerships, known as P3s, have repeatedly failed transit users in Canada and around the world and have been harshly criticized by such independent experts as Ontario’s auditor general.
From London, England to Montreal and Toronto here in Canada, P3 models have simply not worked to provide public transit. In the end, these P3 projects have cost taxpayers more than would have been the case had public agencies simply built and operated public transit infrastructure as they have for many years.
“P3s simply don’t work” noted Mahar. He pointed out that Ontario’s auditor general in her 2014 annual report concluded that building public infrastructure using the P3s model had cost Ontario taxpayers $8 billion more in additional tendering costs over a ten year period. “We simply can’t afford to waste any of the little money the Harper government has committed to public transit on providing profits for large corporations” Mahar concluded.
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OFL Says Ontario Budget Sells False Choices
(TORONTO, ON) ─ The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) said the Ontario Budget sells Ontarians short by choosing privatization over tax reform. The result will be a damaging and irreversible legacy that entrenches the economic divide, erodes public services and leaves a poorer province for future generations.
“Premier Wynne’s budget sells more than just Ontario’s public assets, it sells false choices,” said OFL President Sid Ryan. “She is telling Ontarians to choose between public transit and public hydro; municipal infrastructure versus hospital closures; good jobs or a balanced budget. It is a sort of budgetary ‘Hunger Games’ that pits public priorities against vital public services instead of addressing the most obvious choice: asking corporations and high-income earners to pay their fair share.”
In its pre-budget submission, the OFL called on the Wynne government to use public investment and tax reform to ensure that prosperity is shared, get more Ontarians working and build a fairer society.
The OFL called attention to the 370,000 Ontario children who live in poverty; the one million workers who earn at or near the minimum wage; the one in five Ontarians who receive help from a food bank or charity; and the nearly half of all residents in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton who are working in precarious, part-time and insecure employment. All of this stands in stark contrast to Canada’s highest paid CEOs, who today make 171 times the average Canadian income at a time when Ontario corporate tax rate is the lowest in North America.
Simply restoring corporate tax rates to 14 percent, cracking down on tax cheaters and removing exemptions in the Employer Health Tax could inject an estimated six billion into infrastructure, jobs and anti-poverty initiatives each year. However, today’s budget does little more than tinker with the symptoms of poverty and inequality rather than addressing inequities in the tax system that are at the root of the crisis.
“Wynne sold herself to Ontarians as the ‘Social Justice Premier’ but she has presented us with a budget drafted by bankers, for bankers,” said Ryan. “This budget has identified many important problems but it arrives at all the wrong solutions. Ontario needs long term, stable and reliable revenue to protect valuable public services and to lift people out of poverty,” said Ryan.
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario.
Our Friend Milan
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