I've traditionally considered the Ontario NDP to be progressive in their views on transit and sustainability, but NDP leader Andrea Horwath has decided to attack the Liberal transit plan instead of supporting it, a stance I find deeply disappointing.
By Adrian Duyzer
Published April 17, 2013
I have to say I'm disappointed with the Ontario NDP's position on The Big Move regional transit investment strategy.
The Ontario Government is trying to find ways to pay for a $50 billion, 25-year plan to complete a regional high quality transit network in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).
The government's strategy is controversial because it promises to entail some combination of new fees and/or taxes to pay for it.
I've been very impressed with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's courageous and plain talk on the issue, after successive leaders in all three parties have been reluctant to wade into a touchy subject.
As a result of that reluctance, we've been avoiding necessary investments in transit for decades. The result is highway congestion, lost time and worse air pollution around the GTHA.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has reported that congestion is costing the Ontario economy in reduced annual productivity growth over the years since 1995.
Commuters suffer long drives to work in heavy traffic with few viable alternatives, and it's a drag on our economy as a whole.
I've traditionally considered the Ontario NDP to be progressive in their views on transit and sustainability, but NDP leader Andrea Horwath (also the MPP for Hamilton Centre) has decided to attack the Liberal transit plan instead of supporting it.
Horwath says that "everyday families" shouldn't face congestion pricing, tolls and so on to pay for resolving Ontario's critical transportation problem.
But even if gas taxes, license fees, and everything else that drivers pay for are taken into account, Canadians are still subsidizing roads and highways to the tune of billions of dollars a year.
"Everyday families" like mine are already bleeding money in order to pay for our unsustainably car-oriented culture, even though my family barely uses the infrastructure we're paying for.
I drive on a 400 series highway perhaps once every one or two months. I cycle to work. I lead the kind of environmentally responsible, active transportation-oriented lifestyle that I thought was in line with the NDP's values and polices.
Yet an inordinate share of my tax dollars are still going to pay for road infrastructure I barely use and do not value. I want the ONDP to stand up for me and put the burden of paying for it where it belongs: on people who choose to commute!
Congestion pricing for GTHA highways should be at the top of the list. For a good article on the subject, read The GTHA Should Embrace Congestion Pricing.
I urge Horwath and the NDP to change their position and advocate for sensible, evidence-based and effective ways to resolve Ontario's transportation problem.
Please, take the high road and work with Premier Wynne to achieve this goal instead of using this controversial subject as an opportunity for political gain.
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