Good afternoon – I am Sarah Thomson chair of the Toronto Transit Alliance. Thank you committee members for giving me the opportunity to speak before you today.
With the approaching 2014 election we at the Transit Alliance hope that each and every councilor in this room remembers the importance of standing up for what is right, and putting the needs of the city first.
Everyone in this room knows the importance of dedicated transit funding but how many people here are willing to stand up for even one funding tool recommended to council by us at the Toronto Transit Alliance, by The Board of Trade, Civic Action, Metrolinx, and even your own advisors here at the city?
All have recommended funding tools and today we are here to encourage you to move forward on at least one of them. We have to build a city for our children, a city that doesn’t allow gridlock to limit our economic potential, our youth, our future.
But lets talk about the facts
– the fact that it is very hard to get elected on the idea of increasing taxes no matter how important the initiative is
– the fact that there are politicians who pretend that Toronto can have a top of the line subway system and voters won’t have to pay a dime.
It is hard to compete against these charlatans who spew these lies… but not impossible.
Transit is a key issue in the coming election. With between 6 to 12 Billion dollars of lost productivity each year (BOT and CD Howe estimates) Toronto doesn’t have time to wait for other levels of government to bail us out. We have to move and we have to move quickly.
The Scarborough Subway will cost tax-payers. That is a fact, a hard truth — not political spin.
But another fact being ignored currently is that without dedicated transit funding in place the bill for transit expansion will continue to fall to Toronto tax-payers.
We at the Toronto Transit Alliance believe this MUST change, we need a model where ALL can contribute to funding the transit system Toronto needs and the first step should be to implement tolls for non-residents on the Gardiner Expressway, and Don Valley Parkway.
Many here might not be aware of the fact that Toronto owns both highways and the Toronto Act allows our city the opportunity to move forward on this.
If we toll non-residents, councilors who have proven unwilling to risk their positions, will not have to worry about losing votes.
We at the Toronto Transit Alliance are hoping to find leadership from someone on council, leadership to steer this idea forward, leadership to create the dedicated transit funding Toronto needs to expand our subway and transit system.
Will one of you step forward to lead?
Or does Toronto need someone from outside city council, someone like John Tory or myself, to step in next year and push the transit funding issue forward?
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak before you today.