Political and community leaders from the Greater Toronto Area met Thursday night at the Harbourfront Community Centre to discuss the ever growing problem of transit in the region.
Answering questions from moderator and Toronto Transit Alliance Chair Sarah Thomson were Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, Oshawa Mayor John Henry, Chair of Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance John Tory, and, in place of storm-stayed Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, Mississauga Councillor Bonnie Crombie.
The event drew several influential audience members, including Toronto city councillors John Parker of Ward 26, Denzil Minnan-Wong of Ward 34, Shelley Carroll of Ward 33, and Metrolix CEO Bruce McCuaig.
The roundtable discussion functioned as a platform to spark conversation and involvement between different municipal governments and appeal to the province and federal government for aid in progressing on longstanding and frequently delayed and cancelled plans to improve and modernize the public transit and highway systems that connect the different communities.
While the panel’s answers varied in some regards, it was clear from the outset that they were all in agreement that transit was the number one priority facing the region. Oakville’s Burton drew applause when he stated that “there is a freaking emergency around moving people in our metropolitan area.”
While the group came to some conclusions — increasing property tax is not an option for any of the municipalities represented, higher levels of governments must be involved — the cooperative nature of the meeting was the biggest win of the evening. All involved were hopeful that the discussion would open the door to greater communication on transit issues in the region and lead to cooperation on a comprehensive plan for regional transit.