Give input on transit strategy

On Sept. 18, the premier announced the creation of a Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel.
According to the Ontario government’s news release, the purpose of the panel is to recommend “ways to fund public transit across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)” by meeting “with stakeholders and residents in the GTHA to get input on Metrolinx’s recommendations.”
The panel also has been given the mandate to look at other options to fund public transit, and will report back to the government.
Back in May, Metrolinx released its investment report, which lays out its $50-billion plan to improve transportation in the GTHA.
Its report features a short-list of suggested “revenue tools,” including increasing the price of gasoline by five cents a litre and increasing the HST by one percent, either regionally or province-wide.
I’ve met with many people across the riding this summer when I knocked on doors to check in, talk about this report, and ask people to sign a petition against hitting us up with new taxes and fees to fund transit in southern Ontario.
It doesn’t seem to matter where they live, people across the riding are very concerned about the impact these “revenue tools” will have on their personal finances.
And I’ve been told it is unfair that we have our own set of challenges that aren’t being addressed by a premier who seems once again to be once priorizing southern Ontario needs.
I appreciate all of the comments and suggestions I’ve heard back from people across the riding with respect to infrastructure investment, and I think it is imperative that you forward your concerns on to the panel to ensure our voices are incorporated into their report back to the government.
What do you think of the notion of potentially-raising the HST by one percent across the province to fund transit? What if it was directed at funding roads, bridges, and other infrastructure in our local communities?
What do you think about raising the price of gasoline by five cents a litre?
In my view, the problem with these sales taxes is that they are punitive, especially in areas where we do not have the luxury of having public transportation within or between our rural communities.
The other problem I have with raising the price of gasoline, in particular, is that the Ontario government already has raised the price of gasoline by eight cents a litre on July 1, 2010, when it implemented the HST.
What has it done with this revenue it has collected over the past three years?
Always asking for more is not the answer. Wisely spending the dollars we already have is.
The panel will be convened for roughly another six weeks. According to it website (www.TransitPanel.ca), it appears there is not a telephone number or mailing address.
But if you are interested in forwarding your concerns, you can e-mail them to transit@transitpanel.ca or tweet them to #TransitPanel.
We all know that it is easier to influence the decision before it is made, rather than after.
I hope you will find time to relay your concerns to the panel.

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