Bill 171: The Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 passed into law today. Its purpose is to speed up the delivery of Ontario’s four priority transit projects: the Ontario Line, the Scarborough Subway Extension, the Yonge North Subway Extension and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. In truth, this Bill does very little to address the primary reasons why transit is not being built quickly enough in this region: flip flopping of plans and a failure to commit funds to already approved projects. Instead, Ford's transit bill runs roughshod over the planning process, residents, cities, and businesses.
I introduced 33 amendments to turn this flawed Bill into a model bill for what transit planning and construction should look like.
These amendments included:
- community benefits agreements to ensure projects hire equitably and benefit local neighbourhoods
- an expropriations process that reinstates a hearing of necessity
- a residents bill of rights during construction to protect residents and businesses from unreasonable noise, vibration, danger, and more
- a requirement to uphold the City of Toronto’s requests to the province, which include a TTC fare, mitigation of impacts, or, if not possible, an expansion of the underground section of the line to include the route from Pape and Danforth to south of Eastern Avenue
- no P3 delivery
- a removal of the amendment to allow a utility company or Metrolinx to take over a municipal asset, like the TTC or a road
- no privatization of operation and maintenance
- do not limit people’s ability to go to the courts to address wrongs caused to them by Metrolinx and any construction company
- a return to the TPAP environmental assessment process so early works cannot be conducted before any kind of meaningful assessment is done
- compensation for businesses and municipalities harmed by the impact of transit construction in order to motivate companies to build with respect and caution, and more.
The Ford Government voted all of them down.
Transit planning should follow the mantra: measure twice and cut once. This government is trying to measure and cut at the same time. No good will come from that.
I will continue to advocate for the Ontario Government to build transit right in the GTHA, and that means planning, funding and building transit projects that most benefit the region, and engaging in timely construction that respects people, municipalities, and businesses.