Mobilizing civic leaders behind new ways to pay for an accessible, affordable, connected regional transportation system
TORONTO, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - The Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance today launched a new leadership initiative to champion a regional transportation system and the need for new sustainable ways to pay for it.
"Making it easier to move people, goods and services across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is critical to our region's economic, social and environmental prosperity," said John Tory, Chair, CivicAction. "Metrolinx has an approved plan to build the system we need, but we have nowhere near the funds to pay for it. We have to be open to new ways to raise money that are dedicated to getting this done."
CivicAction today convened a meeting to kick-start the initiative with a diverse group of civic leaders who rely heavily on the region's roads and transit to move people, goods and services, and who are motivated to make that system better. Today's preliminary group of leaders -representing business, labour, not for profit, and community organizations - has started forging a strategy to put this issue on the front burner of civic leaders and their constituencies across the region.
Throughout the spring and summer, CivicAction will work with leaders to develop a campaign to launch this fall. The strategy will mobilize people behind a vision of a region with an efficient, accessible, affordable, and connected regional transportation system, and the means to pay for it. The campaign will build on the foundational work of such organizations as the Toronto Board of Trade, University of Toronto's Cities Centre and Institute on Municipal Finance & Governance, Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance, Pembina, and Evergreen, and will reinforce the activities of these and other groups that are championing a better transportation system.
"We have far outgrown our existing transportation infrastructure, which is not meeting the current or future needs of our growing region," said Mitzie Hunter, Chief Executive Officer, CivicAction. "This outdated system is hampering our ability to realize the rich potential of our region."
In November 2008, the Board of Directors of provincial agency Metrolinx, with agreements from the region's municipal councils, adopted The Big Move, a 25-year $50 billion regional transportation plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. While a number of projects are underway, to date only about 20% of The Big Move's capital projects are funded with almost $40 billion left to raise, and that doesn't include funding for operation and maintenance. Given the austerity our governments are facing, CivicAction is championing the need to look beyond our existing tax revenues to make this plan a reality.
By no later than June 2013, Metrolinx will deliver recommendations to the provincial and region's municipal governments on how to pay for The Big Move - which is expected to include new sources of revenue beyond the traditional tax base - and governments will then decide which recommendations to implement.
"We are not calling for one new source over another," Hunter said. "We'll need a number of new sources paid for by taxpayers and users of the roads and transit that are dedicated to raise the money we need. Our group will aim to build understanding and consensus across the region."
Transportation was one of the key issues CivicAction focused on leading up to and at the 2011 Greater Toronto Summit, attended by close to 1000 regional leaders. The post-Summit report, Breaking Boundaries, Time to Think and Act Like a Region, called for broadening public awareness of the need to implement The Big Move and galvanizing support for an acceptable mix of sustainable sources to fund its implementation, based on the conclusions of CivicAction's 2010 report Time to Get Serious: Reliable Funding for GTHA Transit and Transportation prepared by Neal Irwin and Andrew Bevan.
CivicAction is a multi-sectoral coalition of thousands of civic leaders committed to acting collectively to tackle tough issues and big opportunities facing the Toronto region. CivicAction's Greater Toronto Summits bring leaders from all walks of life together to assess the region's strengths and challenges and to identify priority areas and opportunities for attention. In between Summits, CivicAction takes a role in incubating innovative initiatives designed to galvanize action in these priority areas.
Using a model of collaborative leadership, CivicAction's current initiatives are aimed at: making the Toronto region flourish through environmental action and innovation (Greening Greater Toronto); creating a leadership landscape that better reflects the region's diversity (DiverseCity: the Greater Toronto Leadership Project in partnership with Maytree); and connecting and supporting rising city-builders (the Emerging Leaders Network).