Toronto – October 8, 2013 – CivicAction Chair John Tory has issued the following open letter to all elected officials in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area:
To all elected officials in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area,
Re: Trust and prosperity at stake: time for rational and regional decision-making
I am writing on behalf of the Board of Directors at CivicAction and hundreds of civic leaders across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) who are engaged in CivicAction’s Your32 campaign to accelerate regional transportation investment.
Tackling gridlock is one of the most pressing issues affecting the prosperity of the GTHA. Yet for too long we have been subject to an endless back and forth of short-term decision-making and politicking.
The result has been decades of cancelled projects, incomplete facts, and failed accountability.
- Have the public and decision-makers been given complete information about all costs and implications, including long-term operating costs, at stake in these decisions?
- Do we have long-term funding solutions to our transportation needs?
We need answers to these and other questions as we continue to invest hard-earned taxpayer money.
As municipal, provincial, and federal governments move forward on funding and building this region’s transportation network, we call on you to adhere to four principles:
- We need to think and act like a region. The movement of people and goods do not stop at municipal borders. We must continue to work from a region-wide plan, which we already have in The Big Move, the plan developed by our regional authority, Metrolinx, and approved five years ago by the Province and heads of GTHA municipal councils. The Big Move considers the region as a whole, and staggers projects based on where demand is greatest. While some projects and lines may change over time, this is the GTHA’s comprehensive roadmap for creating an integrated transportation network, and the regional approach that it reflects should stay paramount.
- We need a funding plan in place so we have sustainable funding sources to build out our transportation network. If we want to build lines, we have to find ways to pay for them. Funding commitments from all levels of government must be multi-year, and not tied to political cycles. More than that, the region needs to create dedicated funding sources for transportation.
- Transparency and accountability in how we raise and spend money are not optional. Be open and honest about the costs of building and operating new transportation infrastructure, and be clear about how those costs will be met. If and when plans change, residents must know how costs will also change.
- We must build trust and build communities. Infrastructure investments do more than create new lines on a map. If built correctly, they help create healthy, vibrant communities, and spark job creation and business investment. We need your collaboration and leadership to help the GTHA thrive and prosper. The process by which we expand our transportation network and spend taxpayer dollars has the potential to inspire trust from the public. But done in a haphazard way, it can just as easily destroy that trust.
It is time we get back to making choices that are fact-based and not politically-driven, that meet the needs of residents, communities, and businesses across the GTHA as effectively and efficiently as possible. Any decisions, including those for Scarborough, must be made with rational analysis and clarity on why, how, and when funds will be spent, and with the broader regional perspective in mind.
By signing CivicAction’s “Pledge to Get A Move On” at www.your32.com, 126 GTHA elected officials (one-third) from all levels of government have already committed to supporting new revenue sources based on our principles – that funding be dedicated to transportation and raised in ways that are efficient, transparent and accountable, regional, fair and sustainable.
If you have not already signed the Your32 pledge, we urge you to do so. For those who have already signed, we look forward to seeing you act on your commitment.
We have reached a critical moment in the development of our region’s transportation network, and much is at stake. While there is encouraging progress underway, we need to keep a laser focus on building out the full regional network, which includes rapid transit, enhanced and electrified GO service, improvements to roads, highways, and walking and cycling infrastructure, and support for municipal transit systems.
We call on you, our elected officials at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels, to please be the responsible politicians that your constituents need you to be. None of us can afford anything less.
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About CivicAction’s Your32 campaign
CivicAction and its 55+ team of civic Champions and Regional Co-Captains have engaged more than one million residents in their campaign to build support for a better regional transportation system and the need for new sustainable ways to pay for it. For more information, visit www.your32.com.
For the past 10 years, the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance (CivicAction) has brought together senior executives and rising leaders from all sectors to tackle some of our region’s toughest social, economic, and environmental challenges. CivicAction sets a non-partisan agenda, builds strategic partnerships with organizations, and launches campaigns, programs and organizations that transform our region. For more information, visit: www.ca.cmohr.ca, @CivicActionGTA