Wednesday, April 28, 2010
While TLC never heard back from RIOCAN about the lack of adequate bike parking at University Plaza in Dundas, there have been two new racks installed on the south section of the plaza! It would have been nice to have them communicate with us about the style of racks to use, the ones they chose not being the best from a security standpoint. Preferable would have been the style that was previously the only rack at the plaza, where cyclists can easily lock their bicycle frame to the rack with an u-lock.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Roads tolls gaining favour
The challenge of paying for light rail and other provincially-funded transit initiatives has revived discussion about road tolling – at least in the Toronto area – and is winning significant support. The tolling of Hamilton’s city-owned expressways was recommended by staff several years ago, but rejected by council.
Last month’s provincial budget postponed $4 billion in promised Metrolinx transit funding, putting several Toronto area light rail transit projects on hold, and apparently dimming hopes that Queen’s Park will find funds for light rail in Hamilton. The fiscal retreat has enraged Toronto mayor David Miller, and re-ignited the long-simmering debate about tolling expressways to help finance improvements to public transit.
Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion sparked the discussion earlier this month by suggesting tolls have to be considered as one way of funding infrastructure.
“We’ve got to face the music and say how are we going to pay for it,” she told 680 News, “The 407 is a toll road that people seem to have accepted very well.”
That won immediate endorsement from Globe and Mail columnist Marcus Gee, who pointed to a recent survey of 19 North American urban areas that identified the Toronto region as the most congested.
“Seven out of 10 Toronto commuters depend on their cars. Hopes of luring them with better mass transit are fading,” noted Gee. “Metrolinx, the regional transit agency, has a $50-billion master plan for mass transit with no clue how to pay for it. Road tolls could help solve both problems.”
Oakville Mayor Rob Burton was even more blunt.
“There are people who believe in magic and they think everything should be free. I wish I could accommodate them,” he said. “The title of the office is mayor, not magician.”
A Toronto Star poll found a surprising 31 percent of residents in favour of road tolling, leading the newspaper to call for “an adult discussion” of the option because “necessary transit projects can’t wait.” That may be underway as tolls have become a major issue in Toronto’s mayoralty race with one major candidate endorsing them and at least two others refusing to rule them out.
Further investigation by the Star found evidence that “a shift is taking place in political circles” and even among taxpayer advocacy organizations. The head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Kevin Gaudet, has been one of the most vocal critics of tolls, but has changed his mind.
“If done correctly, I think there is a way for fees, tolls and levies to occur,” he told the Star.
The issue was touched on by Hamilton council in 2008, but hasn’t been seriously debated since a 2004 staff report recommended asking the province for the right to toll the Linc and the Red Hill expressways as a way of paying for their construction and maintenance costs. That investigation was rejected by a majority of the councilors, frustrating some of the others who wanted the option considered.
“It’s that old free lunch thing – let’s build the road, and let’s get somebody else to pay for it, whether it’s the province or the farmers or the suburbanites,” commented Dave Braden, Flamborough’s representative at the time. “But introduce the concept in the Hamilton culture that says the people who use it really should pay for it, and you get oh no no, somebody else should do that.”
The consultant study behind the staff report calculated that a 10-cent per kilometer toll on the two expressways would generate about $14 million a year and go a considerable way to footing debt repayment and the on-going maintenance bills for the roadways. Debt charges are a little over $10.2 million this year and will still exceed $9.3 million in 2016.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010
April 14, 2010
Transportation for Liveable Communities Hamilton
PO Box 19, 1280 Main Street West
Hamilton ON L8S 1C0
Councillor McHattie and Daryl Bender,
Transportation for Liveable Communities is writing in support of the planned trail improvements on the former rail corridor, between Fortinos (south of Main St. W. on Rifle Range Road) and Studholme.
As advocated for sustainable transportation, TLC has for years supported the building of this trail, and as we near implementation we are eager to see it go forward.
We anticipate the trail will be well used by people commuting or seeking access to recreation and retail opportunities by bicycle, on foot or with mobility aids. Upon completion this trail will be a welcome alternative to existing on-road routes that cross the 403 on King or Main Streets, which, due to traffic speeds and volumes, are not always conducive to an inviting cycling environment for young families and beginner cyclists. This trail will provide a scenic and safe route for such users.
By rehabilitating this former rail line, an environmentally degraded area with limited use will now serve to meet the needs of citizens seeking alternatives to private automobile use while creating a cleaner and safer environment for a wide range of users.
TLC supports the paving of this section, since this will allow for snow-clearing in winter, and will provide a stable surface year round for cyclists and pedestrians, thus promoting a shift away from automobile dependency and toward sustainable and non-polluting transportation. The plan to have lighting along the trail will further enhance safety for users.
TLC encourages the city to engage best practices with respect to environmentally sound snow and ice control, to ensure this path remains an asset to the community year round.
Thank you for your consideration,
for Transportation for Liveable Communities
Transportation for Liveable Communities
905-525-9140 ext. 26026
PO Box 19, 1280 Main Street West
Hamilton ON L8S 1C0
Advocates for sustainable transportation in Hamilton since 2000
(photo of trail on former rail line to be paved)