Transit is a major factor in the effort to maintain liveable cities. Without transit, our largest cities would look very different—and even small cities would likely change noticeably for the worse. In fact, roughly 80 percent of Canadians live in urban centres, and 60 percent of recent job creation has been focused in just 10 city centres. Quality of urban life has become a national concern and with the level of development expected along corridors such as Yonge Street, is certainly a significant concern to the residents of Thornhill. Residents take pride in living here and expect clean air, safe streets, access to opportunity and ease of movement. An efficient and seamless public transit system plays a significant role in each of these areas.
For residents of Thornhill, extension of the Yonge-Finch subway station to at least Highway 7 is a critical priority. As part of a Region to the north of Toronto, we also need to appreciate the demands on Toronto’s existing subway system and advocate for a workable downtown relief line to ease the pressure in Toronto, allowing for the extension of the Yonge-Finch line northward into York Region.
The Yonge Subway Extension is the most vital transportation infrastructure improvement for this area and, arguably, for all of York Region and Toronto. The Yonge subway extension to Richmond Hill Centre is a key priority for York Region and the Yonge and Steeles area. The Yonge Subway Extension plays a significant role in accommodating existing and future transportation and transit demand along this corridor and the broader area. Until this is actually built, new developments along Yonge Street will cause increasing pressure to surrounding neighbourhoods and infrastructure.
In addition to the Yonge Subway Extension, phased implementation of rapid transit on Steeles Avenue is needed to provide east-west capacity to accommodate any future growth in the area. Unfortunately, there is no timeframe associated with the construction of rapid transit along Steeles Avenue.
What have I done?
- I proposed the idea of Markham taking the lead and organizing a genuine summit on transit – bringing together the mayors of the GTA and the Federal and Provincial Ministers of Transportation. Serious decisions need to be made about which transit projects are priorities, an on-going source of sustainable funding and a specific timeline. We need to treat this as an essential investment in our future.
- Transit Town Hall. I have hosted a transit town hall with experts from YRT/Viva, Civic Action and the Provincial Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel as well as multiple resident forums on transit.
- We need a National Transit-Transportation Strategy. I have written and spoken about this on several occasions, including at a Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference workshop. How we move people and things affect all aspects of our lives – environmentally, socially and economically. People are willing to make the necessary investment in transit, provided the funds are dedicated to a high-quality, efficient and integrated system.
- We need a sustainable vision of which we can all be proud. When ‘politics’ drive Federal funding to support the extension of the Scarborough subway line before a downtown relief line in Toronto or the Yonge subway extension (even against the recommendation of former TTC Chair Andy Byford), something is definitely wrong.
- Create one transportation body. I am in favour of a Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area regional transportation body responsible for planning, funding and executing long term transportation plans.