Consultation is key
Last month, in this space I wrote about the importance of transportation to the competitiveness of our city and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area region, as well as the need for strong leadership to mitigate the growing negative impacts of congestion. This has remained a topic of considerable interest and much has happen in the past month.
In mid-May, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released a report entitled: “The $2 Billion Question: GTHA Business Opinion on Funding the Big Move” which highlights the results of an extensive consultation process with the broader business community of the GTHA, including the Brampton Board of Trade. The report explores the proposed revenue tools proposed by Metrolinx for consideration to pay for the $50 billion 25-year ‘Big Move’ transportation plan and defines the principles and priorities that should be considered as the provincial government makes its decision on how to fund this critical work. The primary principles of the report are clear: all new revenues must be dedicated, transparent, fairly allocated among all beneficiaries, and should not impact economic competitiveness. The report also shows that there is a consensus among our regions’ business community that new revenue tools are required and identifies a number of non-starter, medium potential, and high potential options.
In order to add its voice to the growing support for decisive action, your Board of Trade adopted a policy that formally recommends three key positions. First, the Board supports the expedient implementation of the “Big Move” in an affordable and timely manner. This is essential to address the significant transportation challenges that Brampton faces as a result of population growth and aging infrastructure. The Big Move provides a coordinated blueprint for improvement. We need to build on the momentum of its early successes like the highly successive Zum project.
The BBOT’s policy also recommends that the detailed planning for regional components of the Big Move plan should be made in consultation with the local municipal governments and business communities. This is critical to ensure that projects, such as the proposed Hurontario LRT, are designed in a way that not only addresses the macro needs of the regional transportation system, but also closely considers the local impacts of new services. With the proposed LRT line between Port Credit and Downtown Brampton, there remain many questions, including what impacts may come to the downtown core and whether there are other routing options that should be considered. This is a matter that needs to be decided in consultation with the community at large.
Finally, BBOT recommends that Metrolinx and the Province of Ontario adopt the principles and priorities outlined the OCC report as the basis of any decision with respect implementation of new revenue tools. We know that a well-planned and executed transportation system is critical for strong economic growth and the success of our City and the businesses that operate in it. Given the financial state of all levels of government, there is no question that innovative funding mechanisms will be required to provide the necessary infrastructure capacity to handle anticipated growth.
With this policy, BBOT stands to support the development of reliable, adequate, equitable and affordable transportation infrastructure to ensure that Brampton can continue to grow its economy. One thing is for sure: the status quo is not an option.