Special Report: Light Rail

Metrolinx Unveils Investment Strategy

The plan finalizes a list of revenue tools to raise approximately $35 billion to pay for a series of planned regional transit investments, including an east-west Light Rail Transit (LRT) line in Hamilton.

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 27, 2013

Metrolinx, the Province's regional transportation body for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, has finally released its Investment Strategy after years of planning.

The plan finalizes a list of revenue tools to raise approximately $35 billion to pay for a series of planned regional transit investments, including an east-west Light Rail Transit (LRT) line in Hamilton.

The final list of revenue tools is:

This list was winnowed down from an initial list of 25 proposed tools based on economic analysis and feedback from a series of community meetings held over the past several months.

In total, these revenue tools will raise $2 billion annually, which will be used to pay for the next wave of Metrolinx projects:

The first phase of projects, fully funded out of an initial endowment of $15 billion in public funding, includes the Sheppard East LRT, Etobicoke-Finch West LRT, Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT and a replaced Scarborough RT in Toronto and is already in progress.

The Province and Metrolinx have been hinting since last year that municipalities may have to cover some of the capital costs of the next phase of projects, but the Investment Strategy makes it clear that the full funding will come from the revenue tools.

The plan also recommends the Province consider a toll to allow single drivers to use high occupancy vehicle lanes, pay for parking at transit stations, and land value capture for properties around rapid transit stations.

Key Principles

Metrolinx developed the Investment Strategy around four key principles: dedicated revenues, fairness in costs and benefits, equity across the region and accountability and transparency.

About two-thirds of the money will come from a one point HST increase because, as the report notes, "we all benefit from an integrated, enhanced transit and transportation network".

The $2 billion in annual revenues amounts to an average of $477 per household, but the report notes that the GTHA currently loses $6 billion in annual productivity due to its inefficient transportation network - or an average cost of $1,600 per household.

The report also clarifies that all the money from these revenue tools will go into a dedicated fund that is earmarked for the Big Move projects. It will not go into general circulation or be diverted to other budgets.

The Ontario government has faced several fiscal scandals over the past several years, and the report is very careful to note that the plan needs to build trust through a rigorous commitment to transparency and accountability.

Building transit and transportation infrastructure of this magnitude takes time – years, not months. Only with these investment tools "locked in" and dedicated can the people of the GTHA be assured that funding for transit and transportation would be shielded from the year-to-year pressures of overall government budgeting, when other funding needs may arise.

The report recommends that Metrolinx "enhance its public engagement processes to model best practices and its reporting systems in order to establish robust and transparent reporting" on budgeting, project delivery and implementation details.

It also recommends that GTHA municipalities nominate citizen representatives to join the Metrolinx Board of Directors, which is currently appointed by the Province.

The Province still needs to review the Investment Strategy and consult with municipalities and other stakeholders before legislating the recommendations into law.

Local Coverage

The intrepid Joey Coleman was on hand to interview people in the light of the unveiled Investment Strategy.

Following are a few highlights from Coleman's roving camera.

The L is Back

Hamilton Councillor Brian McHattie noted approvingly that Metrolinx has clarified that Hamilton's B-Line is once again being called light rail transit rather than rapid transit.

Earlier this year, Metrolinx spontaneously stopped referring to Hamilton's plan as "LRT". This inspired a local twitter hashtag campaign #MissingTheL.

In response to Coleman today, McHattie said, "The L is back, so that's good to see."

Richard Koroscil

The clip also interviews Richard Koroscil, Hamilton's representative on the Metrolinx Board, who spoke very positively about Hamilton's prospects to complete and build the B-Line.

"I've heard Hamilton is voted very much in favour of LRT. What they want to see is the 100% funding. The good part is the investment strategy brings the 100% funding at the end of the day, so we can go ahead and move ahead with the implementation."

Council recently rejected all the proposed revenue tools in the Metrolinx shortlist, and Koroscil expressed optimism that Council will reconsider supporting the investment strategy now that it has been presented clearly.

"I'm hoping that Council will now take the time to review the Metrolinx strategy, the investment strategy, and then be able to move forward in terms of being able to be supportive of the implementation, and then we can get on with actual execution of the plan and building."

He noted that the Province will consider the investment strategy carefully and consult with the municipalities to ensure they have "alignment".

McCallion Clarifies Comments

Coleman also got a question into Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, who took a swipe at Hamilton last week over Mayor Bob Bratina's decision to recuse himself from voting on the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) vote on the Metrolinx Investment Strategy.

Speaking last week, McCallion said, "I don't know how Hamilton ever got into the GTA, and I think we should chuck them out."

Speaking today, McCallion clarified that she was speaking based on her assumption that Mayor Bratina had been presenting Council's position. "It's been clarified by some councillors from Hamilton that that is not the position of Hamilton - the Mayor's position is not the position of the Hamilton Council. I'm very pleased to hear that. I was commenting on his position, which I took an exception to."

Coleman asked, "So you fully support Hamilton being a part of The Big Move?"

McCallion replied, "Well, they can be a part of it if they're prepared to pay their way and they're prepared to benefit from the program. But The Big Move, in my opinion, is the best plan that's come forward to date. It may not be a perfect plan, but it's had a lot of input, a lot of research, and if we start criticizing the plan, then nothing will happen."

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus and HuffPost. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.

83 Comments

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted May 27, 2013 at 12:54:15

Very timely report. Thanks to you and Joey, and way to go Hazel.

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By JM (registered) | Posted May 27, 2013 at 13:03:59

I think Hazel just described the entire plan perfectly!

"It may not be a perfect plan, but it's had a lot of input, a lot of research, and if we start criticizing the plan, then nothing will happen."

It should also be added that along with a lot of input, a lot of money has been spent too! lets not waste any more

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By rrrandy (registered) - website | Posted May 27, 2013 at 13:24:37

Did you find Koroscil played up the transportation hub which I take to be goods movement, not so much people movement?

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By bbit (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2013 at 13:28:28

agree - we know the metro area is growing & predicted pop to go up million in coming years
already challenging to get out of and into Hamilton at times of the day
why wait until we are gridlocked - driving is not free. Highways, bridges, freeways, traffic lights etc cost money. They benefit all of us eg buses, ambulances, room for bikes/scooters/etc.
freeing up room on roads & highways benefits everyone
can't free up the space without unloading some cars

therefore - transit planning
can govt be criticized for being proactive instead of reactive? One would hope not. It will cost money - but long overdue.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 08:45:31 in reply to Comment 89011

Actually, this plan is reactive , but better late than never. Further delaying the inevitable will only add to the costs and lost productivity as you suggest.

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By Gimics38 (registered) | Posted May 27, 2013 at 14:44:59

Where is the congestion tax?

http://www.ted.com/talks/jonas_eliasson_...

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2013 at 14:03:24 in reply to Comment 89014

Congestion taxes are hard. Gas taxes and solo-in-the-carpool-lane permits are easy.

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By probono (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2013 at 17:07:57

By scrapping all-day kindergarten, you could save $1.5 billion a year and apply it to transportation.

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2013 at 18:52:06

Wasn't Richard Korosil the guy who was the head of the Ariport? I remember going to event a couple years ago, where he was pushing the growth of warehouse jobs, which are temp work jobs, where a worker has no rights supposedly?

Sorry there Ryan but I try to understand the reporting of all this and I am shocked by all this.

If we are to combat the poverty levels, which envelope our communtiy I wonder about allt this.

I find that the majority of people are ill informed about things adn they will continue to push forward agenda that are against humanity. What is the goal of this blog, really????

If real change is to happen, then one must not fall for the usual. Has Rais teh ahmmer mopved away from their groassroots efforts??????


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By Today (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2013 at 20:22:30

RTH is all for LRT regardless of cost to the taxpayer. I understand that. I hope others do as well.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 08:52:36 in reply to Comment 89021

Today is all for low taxes regardless of the cost to the taxpayer of lost economic opportunity, and spiraling costs of car-based planning and infrastructure. I understand that. I hope others do as well.

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2013 at 20:35:26

I try to understand the negative votes of the readers and contributor. I know the truth about things, why is it, that so many are against that.

I praise the many issues that are interconnected with the issues of poverty, the issues of job loss, the issues of so,much more, which the many of this forum fail to discuss, as they are not affected.

Can we move forward?

Why are so many people Brainwashed??? This is a question I ask.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 07:38:14 in reply to Comment 89022

People on here largely stopped giving a shit about poverty a while ago SCRAP.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 27, 2013 at 22:26:27

I realize I'm pissing into the wind here on this issue. But.

I paid $19,465.43 in income tax last year. My business paid 15% on the money it made on top of that. I pay 13% HST on everything I buy, consume, rent, use, etc I pay HST on top of the provincial and federal excise tax on fuel, so tax on tax. I paid a tire disposal tax on the new tires on my truck.

I pay property tax on my home.

Now Metrolinx wants impose "revenue tools" (READ TAXES) which according to the spectator are going to cost me (low side) another $477. 00 per year.

This is all coming from a government that has been in power for 10 years which pissed away close to a $BILLION to cancel two gas plants to save two seats in the legislature, pissed away another $BILLION plus on E Health, pissed away untold millions on ORNJE, implemented all day kindergarten to the tune of $1.5 BILLION a year without really examining the protracted costs, benefits or alternatives. Feed in Tariffs to pay for overpriced, subsidized "green energy" that the province has to sell at a loss.

They seriously expect us to believe that they can be trusted with implementing this "plan" without completely buggering it up?

We have municipalities cutting core services decrying they're broke even though some of them are running surpluses.

THERE IS NOT A REVENUE PROBLEM IN ONTARIO, THERE IS A SPENDING PROBLEM COMBINED WITH A LISTLESS, RUDDERLESS INCOMPETENT GOVERNMENT.

Metrolinx says it requires $2Billion a year for 25 years to fund The Big Move. If you honestly believe there is not AT LEAST that much a year that can be found in waste, mismanagement and unneeded spending in this province....... I own a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you cheap.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2013 at 14:20:58 in reply to Comment 89023

Feed in Tariffs to pay for overpriced, subsidized "green energy" that the province has to sell at a loss.

I always get confused why people hate on this. Did people think that you could save the world for free? That people burn petrochemicals for sport and wind energy was going to have exactly the same output for exactly the same cost?

Or do they just not give a crap about the next generation of Canadians?

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2013 at 18:02:02 in reply to Comment 89083

Save the world from what exactly? Cheap energy has been the biggest driver in improving the human condition in the history of mankind. No one expects anything for free. However government shouldn't expect taxpayers to pay for technology that cannot meet the demand for the energy we need while lining the pockets of corporations and individuals who have conned everyone into thinking they are "green".

The market has been the single biggest driver of improving the efficiency and affordability of energy systems. Environmentalists often lament that we don't pay the true cost of energy. Well if we paid the true cost of "green energy" we'd all be living in the dark.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 08:33:13 in reply to Comment 89023

Yes, yes, and more yes.

$2b is about 1.5% of the provincial budget. Let's pick 10 agencies and departments at random, marginally cut their budgets, and put the rest into transit.

As someone else said, I'm 100% for the Big Move, but I'm 100% against these new fees.

(I would be for road tolls, however... Why aren't those in the plan?)

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2013 at 13:14:49 in reply to Comment 89039

The gas taxes are the road tolls. Basically, road tolls are hella hard to get right - the congestion fees in the UK cost so much to run that they don't actually make much money for the government. Now, thinking of our provincial government, do you really think they could do better than London UK? Neither do I.

So instead, they're just going to do a gas tax which is effectively a tax on driving and have abandoned the idea of road tolls.

The problem is that everything put together adds up to the same as the HST hike. And the HST hike is my "hell no" point.

I'm down with everything else... heck, I wouldn't mind doubling all those other fees (although I imagine developers and businesses with huge parking lots would disagree) but I want to see a billion in reduced program spending in tandem with them instead of HST hike.

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By kevin (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 01:02:36 in reply to Comment 89023

This is not pissing into the wind. You are dead right. Canadians, for all our self-righteousness, turn a collective blind-eye to massive, criminal waste and corruption. We don't deserve nice, quiet, sleek, beautiful trains. Instead, give us loud and proud Robs, Bobs, Bills, and Peggies.

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By Jason (registered) | Posted May 27, 2013 at 23:04:23 in reply to Comment 89023

Gotta be honest here. I'm 100% in favour of The Big Move, and I agree with you 100%. There is a ton of money wasted every year in this province. They still talk about an unnecessary new Mid-Pen highway, and big clover leafs at Hwy 5&6, and more extensions of the 427 etc.... The list is endless. Learn from Vancouver, Portland and others- stop spending billions on sprawl freeway projects for the next 20 years and use that money for The Big Move. Add the items you mention and we'd have more money than we need for The Big Move.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 10:39:41 in reply to Comment 89025

Can we take off the rose-coloured glass re: Vancouver. The provincial government has spent several billion on the Gateway Project over the last 5-10 years. Once you leave the downtown core and immediate ring around it Vancouver is auto-centric and isn't really getting any less so.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 06:24:08 in reply to Comment 89025

FWIW, the 400-series widenings and extensions and regional roadwork also comes under the Metrolinx umbrella and would presumably be eligible to tap into this new revenue stream (on the upside, this also raises the possibility of funding for a city-wide bike lane network). From yesterday's news release:

"The Big Move's Next Wave of projects will transform the region by building new light rapid transit in Mississauga, Brampton and Hamilton; new bus rapid transit in Halton, Peel, Toronto and Durham; subway expansion with the Relief Line and the Yonge Subway Extension into York Region; major enhancements to GO Transit as well as improvements to municipal transit projects, roads and highways, and active transportation options."

http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1172335/metrolinx-stable-funding-to-invest-in-our-region

With all the balloons and confetti you could be forgiven for missing "roads and highways," but that has been a part of The Big Move since the plan was unveiled five years ago.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2013 at 08:10:17 in reply to Comment 89030

Not to mention the fact that our roads and highways account for a considerable revenue stream for the province in the form of i) the commerce that travels on it everyday by way of transport truck ii) the licensing, said trucks require to operate on provincial highways etc. iii) the taxes generated by the commerce those vehicles allow to happen by moving those goods to where they need to go.

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 05:50:45 in reply to Comment 89025

Well said Jason i totaly aree with you the naywayers they juste whant to closes there eyes on this and see inferstructure tomble to peices

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2013 at 22:55:12

SORRY SHEM

There are many th8ngw, we mut think about

Why are people what i would called dumb????????

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By Really??? (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 02:21:47

Have you investigated who Metrolinx is? If you think they can provide what they have promised at thos cost you are naïve and buying into the corporate agenda
Let this group prove themselves first before we jump in with both feet.
Based on their experience they are financially incompetent. It cost $700 million to put together the Presto card program because of a "single source" contract to good friends. With the level of corruption that exists in the construction business and big unions this will cost Ontarians triple the cost Metrolinx is claiming.
At the end of it we will have the most expensive transportation system in the world. It will be run with $100,000 a year unionized ticket collectors.
Construction contractors will become billionaires off this project.
Let's do a test run on one of the projects mentioned and see if Metrolinx is even a little bit competent. My money is against them.
Ryan it is disappointing that RTH has jumped in with both feet to support the big corporate and big union agenda. You should be objectively asking the big questions now that will never get raised if now at this stage in the process.

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By InsideJob (registered) | Posted August 27, 2013 at 05:50:26 in reply to Comment 89027

I agree, let them demonstrate they're not on the gravy train. BTW go to the Presto website and see the SIZE of just one layer of the entitled Metrolinx bureaucracy we've been funding.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2013 at 13:20:49 in reply to Comment 89027

If the ON PC party ditched Hudak and ran John Tory on a "I'm going to do all the exact same new programs the Liberals would do, but I'm also going to eviscerate the public sector unions and wreak havoc on the sunshine list" platform, I think he'd have the next election in the bag. I have no idea if it would be possible (probably not) and it would probably result in a complete trainwreck, but he'd get the vote.

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By Rational Optimist (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2013 at 13:21:54 in reply to Comment 89074

It's possible, and it's what needs to be done. And you are exactly right that it is one way the Tories could easily take power.

We're in a pretty big mess here in Ontario. No province had a worse deficit (compared to provincial GDP) than Ontario last year, and no one came even close in the fiscal year just ended. We're at forty percent debt-to-GDP. It is climbing.

Very few Ontarians would feel that we should not invest in infrastructure for the future. Most are in favour of a robust social safety net and are willing to pay for government services. We won't be in a position to do that, but being realistic about public service salaries and pensions (which currently have little grounding in the market) would go a long way.

We could pay for the Big Move in two years if we didn't have interest payments on the debt that this government has over the last ten years incurred through wasteful and perhaps sometimes even corrupt over-spending. $12 billion of the taxes that Ontarians pay go not to valuable services, but just to pay the interest on debt.

So I think the Tories probably could convince voters that it's (almost) possible to have it both ways.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2013 at 14:24:40 in reply to Comment 89138

It's more like three years of debt interest (by Metrolinx's sunny 2008 estimates, we're around $34B short), but the point is taken.

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 05:47:25

Bring it on , il pay for the taxs this is way over dew and the goverment knows it and the poeples knows it as welll only the naysayers seem to close there eyes on this issue

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 07:42:54

Cue the landslide Conservative victory in the next election and the dissolution of Metrolinx to follow. I'd bet money on it.

Even Hudak can't fuck up this gift.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2013 at 13:27:09 in reply to Comment 89033

The Ontario Conservatives are absolute wizards at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Don't worry, Hudak will find a way to give Wynne a minority.

I think the Conservatives could probably win if they could pull together a leader with urbanist/environmentalist/liberal ideals with a Fordian "stop the gravy-train" union-bashing platform.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2013 at 08:01:03 in reply to Comment 89033

Yes he could and likely will. He comes off as an angry suburban white dude, who has opted for the politics of division and negativity. He's declared war on public employees who btw are voters and taxpayers, he's hammered away at gimmicky issues like privatizing the LCBO and other government businesses. At the same time he rails against government waste but doesn't really layout a platform to be different.

Which sadly is why I think this latest round of extortion of the taxpayer called The Big Move will get ramrodded through. Successive governments in this province, and for that matter federal governments have paid little attention to public transit infrastructure for a generation. Now they want to make up for it in 25 years by bend all of us over the table and pulling our pants down instead of getting their fiscal houses in order and prioritizing like all the rest of us have to do. NOPE, JUST PULL OUT THE OLD VISA (read taxpayer) and charge it!

I don't mean any disrespect to Ryan (who does and amazing job bringing local issues to light here. Thank You sir.) or the others who are passionate about public transit. I am as well. But only in the context and parameters of it being a part of a broader, competently run plan, that respects taxpayers and realizes that their is only ONE true revenue source. THE TAXPAYER.

This issue reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons with Metrolinx playing the role of the con man who comes to town promising prosperity and modernity and sells the town of Springfield a monorail that runs to nowhere. That is what we are going to end up with here unless we in no uncertain terms let our elected officials know they need to go back to the drawing board and sharpen their pencils.

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 16:03:44 in reply to Comment 89034

I totally see where you're coming from Shempatolla, but I still feel there needs to be a shift in public funding attention to inner-city transit. And, from virtually all evaluations, LRT would be good fit for a city of our size as we head into the future.

What I think really needs to happen to make all of this work --and, I'm not an economist, so this will be oversimplified in nature -- there needs to be hefty tax hikes on building out, and solid incentives for building up.

Driving on the Red Hill and Linc last night, I look at these gargantuan off and on-ramps and wondered how much could that have cost? And, conversely, if major highway and sprawl infrastructure spending was diverted to city/ density building, would we even need to have these conversations?

It just strikes me that the 'seven generation' outlook, by all evaluations, must favour the implementation of the Big Move...specifically LRT throughout downtown Hamilton.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2013 at 18:24:35 in reply to Comment 89094

It's not a question of funding but rather HOW to fund it. The government needs to actually lead and make some painful decisions like all of us do everyday and and manage our money instead of adding more and more and more burden to the taxpayers of this province.

Government was never, should never, and ought not to try to be everything to everyone. It's not possible. This province takes in more than enough revenue to find $2 billion a year to fund transit. I have no problem with that assertion.

My issue is with incompetent, gutless, socialist, politicians treating me like a bottomless well of money to fund pet projects and needed ones like transit by glibly and cynically assuming that we will just accept them telling us we have to pay more.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 08:09:50

"We want to reaffirm our city council has been clear with respect to its position on potential revenue tools and how we believe the Big Move should be funded. We want to continue to have dialogue with Metrolinx and believe it is important that when Metrolinx consults with municipalities on these tools, that Hamilton is at the table and can share our perspective."

Mayor Bob Bratina


"The premier should only consider a province-wide tax, HST, that must be used for rural bridges, roads and urban regional transit. Everyone pays and everyone gains."

Councillor Brad Clark


"I believe it is unconscionable for the province to impose more taxes on Hamilton when 20 per cent of our operating budget or $600 per house is paying for provincial expenses. The proposal is regressive in nature, which is unaffordable and will impact household economies and Hamilton's economy. Wynne's proposal is a lose-lose tax scheme Hamiltonians can't afford."

Councillor Sam Merulla


"I keep talking about the cost of not doing something — let alone the gridlock, but of not moving progressively here in Hamilton on our future transportation needs. We have to think 10, 20, 30 years from now — and guess what — 10, 20, 30 years from now, things are going to cost a heck of a lot more."

Councillor Jason Farr


"I think the bigger picture … is that it's really challenging to burden local taxpayers with big project funding when we're already challenged with lots of additional costs. We've seen council step up for social services for the last few years, so I certainly wouldn't want to see that replaced. But I think as a society, we can make choices to move around in a more effective manner … It's all part of the same puzzle, really."

Tom Cooper, director, Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction


"The Metrolinx recommended investment strategy released Monday falls very much in line with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce's position that was released on May 1. The business community understands that we have a transportation congestion problem that is killing productivity in our region. It is clear that something must be done to make up for the years of lost investments. We can no longer afford to sit by and do nothing."

Louise Dompierre, chair of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce


"This is just another way to make life harder for folks and it's not something we support."

Andrea Horwath, NDP Leader and Hamilton Centre MPP


http://www.thespec.com/news-story/3239640-city-s-lrt-wish-edges-closer-to-reality/

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By Simmons (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 08:10:55

What was the reason for Metrolinx to not consider implementing a hotel/entertainment tax? This is a common tool applied in many US cities to build stadiums and other infrastructure projects. I don't quite see the political issue (theoretically you're taxing non-taxpaying, non-voting visitors) and it's relatively easy to implement. This would've probably replaced the hot potato gas tax they're proposing.

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By Today (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 09:05:22

I'm not saying there shouldn't be more eco friendly alterntives worth exploring. Agree the gas guzzler cars and what it takes to build these will and have destroyed our environment to a large extent. All I'm asking is that this project, any project, be invested as much as possible to see what is essential and what is frill. I doubt this full examination has been done yet.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 09:11:19

comment from banned user deleted

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 12:58:56 in reply to Comment 89046

Years ago in slightly different circumstances Fred Gardiner said public policy is about determining what you want, how much it will cost, how to pay for it, and who should pay for it. With some difficulty the public can often agree on the first two, but seldom on the last two.

That's why we get endless studies, reports, plans, etc., but little action. Much easier to agree we have a problem than determining how to pay for and by extension who should pay for it.

Eventually the problem becomes an expensive crisis and we're forced to address it ... usually in ways that are less equitable than if the problem was addressed earlier.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 11:42:20 in reply to Comment 89046

I can only speak for myself, but I completely support redirecting a ton of our wasted tax dollars to pay for the Big Move. I also support some simpler measures such as a small gas tax and congestion tolls on HOV lanes because they are 'voluntary'. In other words, if you don't want to pay the congestion toll, don't drive on the HOV lanes. If you don't want to pay the extra gas tax, use other modes to get around more often....granted, that is much tougher considering all we've done is built for the car the past 50 years.

But new income taxes, HST taxes etc.... should not be part of the discussion. As others have mentioned already, we have so much waste and money spent on less important things.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 13:13:55 in reply to Comment 89060

"Voluntary" streams of revenue such as gas taxes, tolls, and congestion charges are policy tools for managing mobility ... you also need revenue not tied to driving automobiles in order to make long-term spending commitments on transit infrastructure. Not sure where that should come from ... I had hoped for something a bit more varied and imaginative from Metrolinx given the time and resources they had to come up with it.

That said, I agree that new income taxes should not be part of the package, and generally feel that it would be wise to leave any HST increases for future fiscal restructuring between municipalities and the province ... cities need to lessen their reliance on property taxes for a bunch of reasons, and transferring to them a portion of the HST makes a lot of sense. But i'll leave that for another discussion.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 10:17:14

I agree with everything except the HST hike, the provincial side of the HST is already 8% and the generic development charge hike (which should be applied only to buildings under five floors in size or should scale higher as one gets away from an urban core).

Removing all day KG, cutting public sector sunshine list salaries and upping the corporate tax rate or a marginal income tax increase are all better revenue tools I'd like to see used in lieu.

I'll say this, if the NDP don't oppose this, it pretty much gauruntees a conservative victory next election, and that is a far scarier thought. Thankfully Horwath looks like she will oppose it, or at least will work on fixing it up.

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By -Hammered- (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 10:21:54 in reply to Comment 89050

You mean, if the NDP _DO_ oppose this, it pretty much guarantees a conservative victory next election.

If they don't oppose it there won't be an election for the conservatives to win.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 10:30:22 in reply to Comment 89051

No, I mean don't. An HST rate hike is an incredible unpopular and contencious issue, espcially in rural ridings who will barely benefit at all from these improvements.

If the NDP let this go, yes it will avert an immediate election, but two years isn't enough time to forget this sort of rate hike, and certainly not enough time for any of the transist improvements to be realized.

If Horwath is smart, she'll demand another revenue tool be used (probably upping the corporate tax or a marginial high income bracket increase) instead of the HST which she'll posistion as a tax that hurts low income people in Ontario far more. Wynne knows she's too fresh in the seat and still mired with too much of McGunity's baggage to call an election now.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2013 at 13:43:45 in reply to Comment 89052

The NDP is already banging the war-drum... but they aren't being specific. They don't mention if only the HST hike is unacceptable or if they won't allow the gas tax hike either.

Horvath's central policy plank for the last decade has been household expenses. High-visibility stuff like home-heating, energy, car insurance, etc. Even in cases where it runs completely counter to their environmentalism (you don't fight global warming by subsidizing burning petrochemicals) they've pushed hard on household expenses.

This will be no exception.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 12:22:25

With Metrolinx releasing its long-awaited investment strategy today, an exclusive Spacing poll shows that scarcely more than a quarter of GTHA residents are prepared to back a regional sales tax hike to raise funds to pay for a generation’s worth of transit and congestion-busting investments across the region.

Furthermore, only 17% of all respondents agreed that individual taxpayers should foot the bill for Metrolinx’s next wave of Big Move projects. Indeed, almost four in ten felt that transit users should pick up the tab. Interestingly, 44% felt the cost should be borne by businesses and developers, while 60% of the respondents said that the private sector should be more involved in financing these projects.

As for the revenue tools themselves, the poll — conducted earlier this month by Innovative Research Group* — revealed that residents were most likely to favour four sorts of taxes — development charges, parking space levies, HOT lanes, and highway tolls — over all the other mechanisms floated by the regional agency earlier this spring. Those four, some of which have turned up as top choices in other recent polls, are the only ones on Metrolinx’s short-list to merit “net positive support,” meaning the total number of respondents in favour exceeds those opposed.

Problem is, Metrolinx officials have said in recent weeks that highway tolls won’t be considered until a lot more transit is up and running. Moreover, two of the tools that passed muster with the public in the Spacing/Innovative poll — development charges and HOT lanes — aren’t big money-makers.

The AECOM study of the revenue tools released in March estimated the net revenue from HOT lanes is probably no more than $100 million annually. Development charges can bring in a further $50 million. As for the parking space levy, it could raise over $400 million per year, but AECOM cautions that it would be like a property tax and would therefore have to be adopted by individual municipalities, which adds an element of uncertainty and plenty of delay.

In sum, while 55% of GTHA drivers reports that their commute is getting worse and three in four residents feel more transit is the way to change the channel on congestion, the lukewarm support for acceptable but low-impact revenue tools underscores the magnitude of the challenge Premier Kathleen Wynne’s minority government faces as it gears up to find ways to raise about $2 billion a year.

What makes her agenda even more daunting is that the public’s awareness of Metrolinx’s grand plan, though certainly greater than it was a year or two ago, remains modest, especially outside the 416 (45% of all residents have heard of The Big Move, with that figure rising to 57% inside the 416).

http://spacing.ca/toronto/2013/05/27/spacing-and-innovative-research-transit-poll-skeptcism-on-revenue-tools/

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 12:26:04

This plan is DOA.

After all the scandals and mismanagement this government has lost the right to seek more taxes from the public.

As one poster said, Ontario has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

Ontario is a province in decline due to poor fiscal management.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 17:03:33 in reply to Comment 89066

The government may lack credibility to deliver, but I disagree that Ontario is in decline because of poor fiscal management. The problem is that we don't make anything any more. 700 000 people in Canada work in the financial industry, with 300 000 of those in the GTA. These people work for corporations that don't make anything. Instead, they simply use and gamble with money. Look at the Stelco example. It went under CCCA, and the Hedge funds that flipped it made millions, and we lost 2000 jobs. USW 1005 was easily bested, and now USS will finish off 8782 in a similar fashion. Unfettered capitalism is destroying this province, not government spending.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2013 at 15:30:29 in reply to Comment 89097

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2013 at 20:20:26 in reply to Comment 89145

I think that banks should provide infrastructure for lending and investment rather than being able to operate without limitations exposing average taxpayers to the damage caused by their malfeasance. Corporate lobbyists prevent any real resurrection of the barriers provided by the Glass Steagall Act. The US bailed out their banks to the tune of 700 billion. In Canada our banks were also bailed out (70 billion on the low end and 125 billion is the estimate on the high end) because of exposure to the subprime fiasco.

I think tax rates have actually been falling in the past couple of decades. Personal income tax has been cut in every province since the mid 90s. Federal tax cuts and personal tax cuts of 100 billion started in the early 2000s and have not repealed to my understanding.

I don't believe Stelco was unproductive. Their problems started in the 90s when they started underfunding pensions. In 2003, the company was losing money, but they were paying creditors, and were not bankrupt. Even after being guided into bankruptcy protection, the company was making money. The demise was a scam so that Investors lcould grab this iconic company for nothing. They flipped it to US Steel, made out like bandits, and now we have a hunking mass of coke making nonsense and no jobs.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 29, 2013 at 16:19:20 in reply to Comment 89145

Red baiting, the last refuge of the political scoundrel.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2013 at 18:37:46 in reply to Comment 89149

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 29, 2013 at 21:39:55 in reply to Comment 89153

This from the guy who just told someone to go to North Korea.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 10:53:18 in reply to Comment 89159

You should go there to if you want to understand why all capitalist economies are wealthy.

There is a reason you don't see people immigrating to places like Cuba.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 14:21:42 in reply to Comment 89066

The government always has to justify taxation, but this argument is simply the Rob Ford cut the gravy and stop the waste before we can do anything else argument. I appreciate efficiency and economy in government as much as the next person, but a narrow focus on that is obfuscation ... continual improvement isn't the same as waiting until self-appointed guardians of the public purse determine all waste and mismanagement has been purged from the system.

The plan will be DOA if the public decides it's not worth the cost and is willing to continue to sit in traffic for the foreseeable future ... polling data suggests they aren't. We just haven't arrived at consensus on how to pay the plan yet. We only in the middle innings of the ball game.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2013 at 14:47:15 in reply to Comment 89084

The Conservatives are smart about this - HST are the highest-profile taxes. Taxpayers see and feel an HST hike instantly, and the corresponding drop that the federal Cons made was a huge political success for them. Floating an HST hike to pay for Metrolinx after a decade of scandal is a sure way to kill The Big Move or the Wynne government itself.

The Provincial Liberals aren't this stupid. I'm hoping this is some kind of temporary poison-pill thing to say "see, you like plan Y because it's not an HST hike!" and we go ahead with an income-tax hike and a 10 cent gas tax.

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By C (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 14:48:28

I'm ok with this $477 per year considring the current cost is $1,600.

And to think mayor Batina was fear mongering by throwing out costs that are about double. How irresponsible.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 14:56:46 in reply to Comment 89087

All together, it's estimated the new taxes and fees will cost the average Ontario household $477 a year. That ranges from $140 for a senior who drives little to $977 for a family of five driving two cars.

Those figures don't include the parking levy and development charges.

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/3238586-gta-metrolinx-backs-hikes-in-hst-gas-tax-and-new-parking-levy/

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 15:01:56

comment from banned user deleted

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By Really??? (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 15:51:56

This is a very good post

Here is the Auditor's report on the ability of Metrolinx to effectively manage transportation infrastructure in Ontario

See page 18 (22) of the report
http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/reports_en/en12/100en12.pdf

Lets run a test project rather than committing $50 Billion to the Vision!!! If they can competently mange a smaller project under budget expand it.

Otherwise it is going to cost a lot more than you think!

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By Today (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 19:13:07

The more I think about this, very costly for many taxpayers that will never directly benefit from this. Ouch.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted May 28, 2013 at 19:57:19

Suddenly the anti-sprawl committee is in favour of Hazel? Check yourselves, Bratina is more in favour of urban intensification than McSprawllion.

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By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted May 29, 2013 at 22:51:56

grumble

Waste? Really?

It costs the province and municipalities close to $1b a year just for road maintenance. And have you noticed how good the roads are? It costs all of us, $6b a year for congestion, not to mention the waste of fuel, and that is projected to rise to $15b. Road traffic represents about a third of Ontario's GHG emissions. And the fellow who mentioned cheap energy making our society so great failed to note the obesity, with its attendant costs, and the degradation of our environment with its attendant costs. Costs so great we can hand them off to our grandchildren to deal with. It will be their problem. Talk about a freakin' deficit. And what did we do, in the end, with that great gift of abundant, cheap energy? We squandered it driving to work, to get groceries, and cruising on main street. A scientist once said that with all the things that can be done with fossil fuels the stupidest thing is to burn then and so we did.

Ontarians want cheap, abundant energy and they don't want to know where it comes from or how they get it. They want to smoke, get fat, and eat shit but they also want their health care but don't want to pay the taxes to support it. We want our water cheap, clean, and on demand but we don't want to know how we get it, where it comes from, or pay the cost of ensuring its delivery.

We are an immature, selfish, and stupid society that faces multiple crises we won't even acknowledge never mind address.

There are too many children and not enough adults.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 30, 2013 at 16:58:21 in reply to Comment 89162

The children are the ones running the show and making the decisions. The adults are the rest of us out in the real world trying to pay mortgages, run businesses, raise our kids and hopefully have something to retire on.

Governance is about leadership and making tough decisions. Conjuring up a term like "revenue tools" and trying to spin it as something progressive and an investment in our future and community is dishonest, cynical and insulting. Dipping into the tax payer well AGAIN is not leadership.

I'll say it again.  In an $127 Billion dollar budget, to no be able to find $2Billion a year in efficiencies to fund transit properly is ridiculous.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted May 30, 2013 at 10:13:20 in reply to Comment 89162

Well said. A large part of the problem is that taxes and fees just haven't caught up with the costs. The expectation that many have that the taxes and fees that we pay cover the costs just isn't true anymore.

As recently as 2001/02, Ontario spent, between the municipal and provincial governments, about $3.53 billion a year on roads.

That same year, total fuel tax revenues collected totalled $2.49 bilion and license revenues totalled $0.99 billion, (total $3.48B) which means that these revenues paid for 98 percent of the cost of road construction and maintenance.

Fast forward to 2010/11. Total fuel tax revenues in Ontario actually declined - to $2.16B. Licence fee revenues were $1.1B, for a total revenue of $3.26B. But on the expenditure side, the province spent $4.02B on roads, and the municipalities $4.15B, for total road spending of $8.16B. Therefore as of 2010/11, taxes only covered 40% of expenditure on roads.

There is a gap of $4.9 billion a year, between where we are now and where we were 10 years ago. This gap has been filled in part by the property taxpayer, and in part by other general provincial tax revenues.

Closing HALF of that gap would provide enough revenue for the Big Move. Basically that means either spending significantly less on road construction and maintenance, or raising fuel tax rates.

To capture $2.5B annually, the Ontario fuel tax would have to rise from 14.7 cents a litre (where it has been since 1992) to 31.4 cents a litre - an increase of 16.7 cents/litre.

What I would propose is to gradually raise that over the next 4 years - by 4 cents annually. The additional tax would treated one of two ways. For GTA municipalities, it would be provided into a transit trust run by Metrolinx. For municipalities outside of the GTA, it would be paid to the municipality, which would be able to decide how the money should be used - either for infrastructure, or to return as a rebate to property taxpayers.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 31, 2013 at 18:27:16 in reply to Comment 89166

Government spending was just over 65 Billion in 2001-2002

This provincial government just passed a budget of over $127 BILLION this past week.

You can't tell me program spending is not out of control.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 30, 2013 at 20:56:12 in reply to Comment 89166

Here's an idea. Cancel the Feed In Tariff that now pays for inefficient, high cost "green energy" plans to the tune of $220 million a year for the next 20 years. (This has the added bonus of reducing our hydro bills).

Cancel all day kindergarten which last year ran $1.7 billion. So now we're at 1.9 Billion a year in savings, redirected revenue...whatever you want to call it. That leaves the government to find less than $100 million a year in waste, inefficiency, duplication or program cuts out of a $127 billion budget to fund transit without gouging taxpayers.

To lead is to choose. That doesn't mean choosing to pass the buck to taxpayers for years of ineptitude and and mismanagement.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 08:14:31

It reads like a manual on how to make people feel more overburdened, without actually increasing their burden that much.

Running the gamut from a reintroduction of photo radar to an expansion of red-light cameras to a new surcharge on telephone bills, the new “non-tax revenues” proposed in a Treasury Board document unearthed Monday by the opposition Progressive Conservatives are practically a populist parody of the way a cash-strapped government might nickel and dime Ontarians. In return for the inevitable backlash, implementing all eight such proposals would bring in “up to $167.7-million” annually, which would be enough to have only a very limited impact on a provincial deficit hovering around $10-billion.

Although none of these measures were actually included in the budget tabled last month by Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals, the fact they were under consideration – and, notwithstanding the distaste for photo radar expressed by Finance Minister Charles Sousa, remain on the table – speaks to the province’s uncomfortable relationship with revenue as it seeks to get back to balance....

There is some irony in the likelihood that such ideas were sought as a result of the Liberals’ belief that the public is not ready for more serious discussions about how revenues fit into the province’s fiscal future. Because the more that Ontarians are given the impression that politicians want to reach into their pockets at every opportunity, the less ready they’ll ever be.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/radwanski-ontario-liberals-open-the-door-to-the-wrong-kind-of-revenues/article12327259/

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted August 19, 2013 at 08:31:14

Bureaucrats at a provincial agency asking for billions to expand transit in the GTA had exclusive access to premium tickets to the Toronto International Film Festival and a Buffalo Bills game, the Toronto Sun has learned.

The sponsorship deals came to light because Metrolinx had trouble managing two agreements in 2011 that yielded premium tickets to the prestigious events.

The agreements forced an internal audit and policy overhaul of its own promotional program, according to documents obtained under provincial freedom of information legislation.

The reports show that $27,000 worth of NFL tickets, some of which were intended to raise money for charity, were sold to Metrolinx staff at a steeply discounted rate. The agency also forked over $30,000 of taxpayer cash to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to sponsor the event and in exchange received a bevy of free tickets to red carpet events, film screenings and exclusive parties.

In early 2011, Metrolinx began to ramp up its so-called “promotional partnership” agreements as a way to “enhance brand recognition.” But by November the program was in trouble.

In a memo dated Nov. 28, 2011, director of strategic communications, Vasie Papadopoulos, defended the program to Metrolinx President and CEO Bruce McCuaig.

“Partnerships can serve as a vehicle to showcase the value of Metrolinx and its operating division in the community,” she wrote. “And also to facilitate the extension of those brands in the non-commuter and leisure travel market by connecting customers to unique cultural exhibitions and events.”

But Papadopoulos went on to say that there was little oversight over the program, ticket use was inconsistently tracked and she acknowledged Metrolinx’s internal audit department was reviewing the program.

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/08/18/metrolinx-bureaucrats-score-premium-tickets

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted September 03, 2013 at 11:50:19

Metrolinx has spent over $10.6 million over the last two years to promote itself and build its brand.

And a taxpayer’s watchdog group says the arms-length transit agency is using taxpayers’ cash to justify its own existence.

The figures, released to the Toronto Sun by Metrolinx, show a series of consultant contracts and internal expenditures awarded for a variety of purposes.

And while the “customer communications, community relations and public education” total just over $10.6-million in actual dollars spent since 2011, multi-year contracts with several consulting firms and ad agencies put the overall value of the spending at $17.2 million….

In all, 17 different consultants or ad agencies were under contract to Metrolinx for advertising, PR or creative communications services over the past two years.

Costs on the deals range from $138,000 for a public consultation on the Big Move to $4.85 million for designing the U-P Express program which involves establishing a brand for the service.

Metrolinx has come under fire in recent weeks for a pair of troubled sponsorship agreements signed in 2011. The deals saw the agency spend $30,000 of taxpayer cash to sponsor the Toronto International Film Festival and some staff scored exclusive access to galas, parties and film screenings.

Another deal saw Metrolinx receive 100 tickets from Rogers Centre for a Buffalo Bills game. Those tickets were given to some staffers for free while other were sold at a discount to agency employees.

Both programs have lead to calls from opposition critics who say Metrolinx should not be promoting itself using taxpayer dollars.
The department which oversaw the controversial deals was the subject of a $115,000 organizational review in late 2012. The Toronto Sun has asked Metrolinx for the consultant’s report but the request has been denied.

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/08/31/metrolinx-spending-big-bucks-to-tell-taxpayers-they-need-more-money-critic

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 16:19:19 in reply to Comment 91641

"this is not news"

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/11/04/metrolinx-sponsorship-scandal-not-news-document

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