Light Rail

$17 Billion for Ontario Transit

By Adrian Duyzer
Published June 15, 2007

The Globe and Mail reports today that Premier Dalton McGuinty has pledged $17.5 billion for transit projects across the GTA and Hamilton.

According to the article, the pledge includes two rapid-transit lines for Hamilton, as well as a number of improvements and expansions of Toronto's subway.

The province has committed to funding two-thirds of the total cost of the projects, with the remainder earmarked to come from the federal government.

This is great news for Hamilton. Hamilton needs better transit but has trouble finding adequate funds for it. The prospect of better transit in Hamilton without the requirement of investment at a municipal level is tantalizing.

Critics, however, say the pledge is cynical electioneering, a promise likely to be broken by a premier they accuse of breaking past promises, including the pledge not to raise taxes and McGuinty's subsequent introduction of a health care premium (Raise the Hammer noted the reason McGuinty introduced the premium in a recent article).

I find the criticisms about "broken promises" interesting. It's always unpleasant when governments raise taxes. However, the Harris-Eves Conservative government left the province with a massive deficit.

It seems unlikely that McGuinty would make the politically risky move to renege on campaign promises and anger the electorate simply because he has a perverse love of making Ontarians suffer. Instead, it is more plausible that McGuinty acted the way he did in order to avoid financial ruin as the result of the Conservative government's mismanagement of, and deception about, Ontario's finances.

Now that provincial coffers are recovering from the Harris years, McGuinty clearly believes it's time to reward the voters - and his own electoral chances - by spreading around a little love.

Starting with public transit is an excellent idea and one in which McGuinty places himself firmly on the right side of public opinion and environmental necessity.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz


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By jason (registered) | Posted June 15, 2007 at 18:56:47

forget BRT. Can anyone say 'modern streetcars on King and James'?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2007 at 08:31:37

No matter which way you turn it, this is great news. Obviously, if it all goes ahead as planned, it would be an amazing step forward for this region. But even if it's all just a big "promise to be broken", it's still not BAD news. At a minimum it shows that this is what the public wants. And it shows that the government knows it. And -- most importantly -- now that it's been put out there, whoever scraps it is going to be in some serious trouble with the voters.

I have already read some grumblings in other provinces about how the federal government should not be funding any of this. Attention Canada: this is good for everyone who lives on this planet. This could set the example for the rest of Canada's major cities. Rather than fight it because it's happening too far away from you, you should be encouraging your own locals to be coming up with similar plans and hitting up the feds for your own piece of the green pie.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 18, 2007 at 10:25:29

the rest of the provinces should check the numbers before spouting off. Ontario subsidizes the rest of the country at an alarming rate. We pump FAR more money into the govn't coffers than we ever get back. And you're right - this is good for everyone, especially if it actually happens. It'll be a model to follow in the rest of the country.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2007 at 10:35:39

This is exactly what I was saying when I lived out West for a few months. The BC-born have a serious bug up their collective ass regarding Ontario getting "all of the federal money and federal attention". Well, I'm sorry to say that we live in a democracy. It's all about the number of people in a region (the number of TAX PAYING people I might add). Meanwhile, they get this attitude where anyone visiting their little paradise is not welcome to move in. They are OK with "Onterribles" visiting them, but we'd better not dare to overstay our welcome. Keep up the attitude and you'll ensure that the BC population stays low enough to always be overshadowed by Southern Ontario. Grow up, ya babies.

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