Thursday, June 28, 2012

OneCity Transit Plan for Toronto outlined in letter to City Council

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A map of the proposed OneCity Transit Plan. A map of the proposed OneCity Transit Plan.

A new 30-year, $30-billion plan to enhance Toronto, ON, Canada, transit was unveiled yesterday.

Karen Stintz, chair of the Toronto Transit Commission and Councillor, Ward 16 (Eglinton-Lawrence) along with Glenn De Baeremaeker, TTC vice chair and Councillor, Ward 38 (Scarborough Centre), detailed the plan in a letter to their Toronto City Council colleagues. The letter stated that the OneCity plan was "designed to bring transit to every corner of the City of Toronto."

The letter stated that OneCity brings together many years of discussion and transit planning and includes 170 km (105.6 miles) of new transit lines spread between six subway and train lines, 10 light-rail lines and five bus and streetcar lines.

"The first project we propose is replacing the Scarborough RT (SRT) with a Scarborough Subway, which would run from Kennedy Station, through Scarborough Town Centre, on to Sheppard Avenue...Replacing the SRT with a Scarborough Subway will mean no service interruptions and greatly improved services," said the letter.

The second project according to the plan will be a streetcar line on Waterfront East, to help serve the 2015 Pan-Am Games and new residents of the area.

TTC staff will prioritize 20 addition projects including

• Building a Don Mills Express line from Queen Station to Eglinton to alleviate the current pressures on the Yonge/Bloor subway line

• Upgrading the Bloor-Yonge subway station

• Extending the Yonge subway to Steeles

• Extending the Sheppard East LRT line to Malvern

• Extending the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line to Pearson Airport

As far as how the plan will be paid for, Stint and De Baeremaeker introduced CVA Uplift as a viable transit funding option for Toronto. As the Current Value Assessment (CVA) of a property increases, OneCity would like to capture some of that increase, or uplift, and use it to fund the plan.

"The CVA Uplift model will capture some of the property value increase – known as 'uplift' – to build a dedicated transit legacy fund. Currently, as property values increase annually, the city can only collect the same amount of property taxes every year because of provincial revenue-neutral requirements. The plan will ask the Province of Ontario to allow the city to capture 40 percent of the uplift, which is equivalent to a 1.9 percent property tax increase per year for four years. This idea was first suggested in the March 15, 2012, Report of the Expert Advisory Panel Regarding Transit on Sheppard Avenue East," said the letter.

"Most Torontonians and many major political organizations in Toronto have implored all levels of government to build and improve transit in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The OneCity Transit Plan will be Toronto's contribution to the financing plan required to make the GTA plan work. It will improve Toronto. It will create jobs. It will get us all to work and home faster," the letter said.

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