Wednesday, September 18 Commentary
It's been 4 months since Ontario's regional transportation authority Metrolinx proposed a series of ways to fund the Big Move, that 10-billion dollar transit expansion plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
The ideas included an extra 5-cent-a-litre tax on gasoline; a tax on parking fees; higher development charges and a one percentage point surtax on the HST we all pay.
It seems many people hate those ideas.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is to make an announcement at 10 this morning about her government's transportation goals, both short and long term.
Indications are Wynne is setting up another panel of experts to look at ways to fund, what is now, a critical expansion plan. This panel would reach out to the public to find out just what it is we want. How should we pay for it?
I can tell you this Premier....few in their right mind would say yes to paying more for gas or parking or on everything we buy. There are far too many taxpayers who think you or any government really would just piddle away new tax revenue on something else.
Indications are the Premier will name Anne Golden as the chair of this panel. Golden says, coyly, if she were to get this she would not redo the Metrolinx work but would simply listen to what people want.
NewsTalk 1010's John Tory told John Moore this morning that this will be a panel of about 15 people and they're to report back by the end of this year.
There's one thing the Premier could do for motorists which wouldn't cost much. Get rid of those HOV lanes on the QEW, the 403 and the 404. They are serving no real purpose but to cram more vehicles into fewer lanes. You'll not fill those HOV lanes until you can somehow convince motorists to carpool...something which may be impossible. The end result is an HOV lane that is largely empty of vehicles with two or more people. Far too often lone drivers jump into that lane anyway...frustrated by the slow drivers in the passing lane of the single occupant section of the highway and more often than not, the slow pokes are drivers with more than one passenger in the car and they should be over in the HOV lane...that's what its there for.
Here in the city of Toronto there are 5 HOV lanes...reserved for buses, taxis and vehicles with 3 or more passengers. At least one city councillor is trying to get rid of them..at least one of the main ones.
I can't wait to hear an explanation for this.
I got an email yesterday from Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak's office about a media availability at Nathan Phillips Square to discuss subways in Toronto. It said Hudak would be there..so would his new MPP Doug Holyday along with TTC chair Karen Stintz, councillors Doug Ford, Frances Nunziata, city budget chief Frank Di Giorgio and Scarborough's Raymond Cho.
A few minutes later a second release from Hudak's office saying the location had been changed from city hall to Queen's Park....but no mention of all those city councillors...only Hudak and Holyday would be there.
Something doesn't smell right about this.
Porter Airlines says everything is pretty well normal in and out of the Island airport this morning.
Last night was pretty well a nightmare. Porter's reservation system packed it in. More than 40 flights cancelled.
IT turns out that at least two airlines in the U.S., Spirit and AirTran also got hit.
They all subscribe to one of the several reservation system packages put out by Navitaire and Navitaire's system went down just after 5:30 yesterday afternoon because of a power failure in Minneapolis which is the Navitaire home base.
Yet another story that the Toronto Zoo elephants will soon be heading for the PAWs Sanctuary in southern California. I'll believe it when it happens and not until.
3 years of endless harangue.
Well apparently the 3 elephants have now been trained and a ready to board large transport trucks to be driven to PAWS...a journey would take some 50 hours.
PAWS says this should happen right after October 14th, which is Thanksgiving Day here. But PAWS also admits it does not yet have the final permits.