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TTC: Yonge North Subway Extension (Finch-Richmond Hill) (Unfunded/Planned)

TJ O'Pootertoot

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And don't just point fingers at Toronto - look at the whole Hurontario LRT affair and how that played out (or the joke that is Durham). The malaise is fairly regional in scope. You got to wonder how things would work if there is a GTHA level of regional government.
Then let's stay on-thread: York Region has been 100% consistent in its growth management and transit planning (notwithstanding long-term master plans showing potential subway expansion northwards.) They didn't once change their plans, they built their projects as planned, on-time and on-budget. They didn't ask staff to build an LRT through a ravine, nor did the Mayor of Markham scrap their BRT plans as "fancy buses."

That, as you point out, make them the exception. And yet, every 10 pages like clockwork we get, "they should build their own subway!" Or, per Cobra, "their politicians are DESPERATE!"

No good deed goes unpunished. Better to keep funding whatever half-assed project Ford or Tory dreams up - because Toronto is so legitimately important and far behind that it hardly matters what you build as long as you build - than rewarding municipalities for proper execution of policy and planning.

If we're going to "point fingers," let's admit that York Region has been a rare exception instead of (not saying YOU) blaming them for trying to get even more transit.

(And as BMO points out, Toronto may have been dealt "a poor hand," but the COTA gives them far more (UNTAPPED) power to handle their own affairs than everyone else. Once they max out those opportunities, they can complain more fairly about being treated like the "boy in short pants." In the meantime, Mississauga can't impose a Land Transfer Tax etc. so, pick your battles.)
 

WislaHD

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Well I'm sure if you move the goal posts enough you can justify it any way you want. The fact is that a statement was made saying only Toronto supports the rest of the province, and I pointed out that it was factually incorrect, just like saying only Toronto supports the TTC, which is also factually incorrect regardless of whether 905ers account for 20% or 10%. The fact is that Toronto isn't being hard-done by everyone else and if one hopes for Toronto to lift themselves out of this mess it would behoove them to start grasping reality in the sense that it's not "Toronto against everyone" as Drake likes to put it but it's also not "an incredibly poor hand" that's been dealt to them...at least no worse than any other jurisdiction in Ontario. This isn't meant to diminish how important Toronto is, but it's that very sense of entitlement that clouds transit decisions in our city.
No other municipality is dealing with the following:
  • Decades old, failing transit infrastructure in need of upgrading, and a repairs backlog that is in the order of billions.
  • Chronically over-congested transit system in desperate need of expansion.
  • A very large transit system whose operating budget is practically entirely funded from the fare-box, regardless if fares are coming from 416 or 905.
  • Massive backlogs in other infrastructure like Community Housing, also in the order of billions, that are competing for funds from Toronto's minimal sources of revenue.
Toronto's needs are on a totally different scale from the rest of the province, and even the rest of the country. And yet, even if you think Toronto isn't being hard-done by, well from my perspective at least the rest of the province seems to make a sport of it every election season.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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Then let's stay on-thread: York Region has been 100% consistent in its growth management and transit planning (notwithstanding long-term master plans showing potential subway expansion northwards.) They didn't once change their plans, they built their projects as planned, on-time and on-budget. They didn't ask staff to build an LRT through a ravine, nor did the Mayor of Markham scrap their BRT plans as "fancy buses."

That, as you point out, make them the exception. And yet, every 10 pages like clockwork we get, "they should build their own subway!" Or, per Cobra, "their politicians are DESPERATE!"

No good deed goes unpunished. Better to keep funding whatever half-assed project Ford or Tory dreams up - because Toronto is so legitimately important and far behind that it hardly matters what you build as long as you build - than rewarding municipalities for proper execution of policy and planning.

If we're going to "point fingers," let's admit that York Region has been a rare exception instead of (not saying YOU) blaming them for trying to get even more transit.

(And as BMO points out, Toronto may have been dealt "a poor hand," but the COTA gives them far more (UNTAPPED) power to handle their own affairs than everyone else. Once they max out those opportunities, they can complain more fairly about being treated like the "boy in short pants." In the meantime, Mississauga can't impose a Land Transfer Tax etc. so, pick your battles.)
If your plans are dependent on capacity from other jurisdictions, it may not be that great a plan in the first place. That's the reality with Yonge extension - no amount of denial can change that. Not to say it shouldn't go ahead, but there should be a clear start for the DRL as a prerequisite. Perhaps York Region should work with Toronto to make sure it happens - for our sake and yours.

Think it's time for a Metro Vancouver style government in the GTHA.
Yes, but changing institutions is always the "easy" part - it's not a guarantee for change if you still can't come to a region-wide consensus to raise transit funding, have a logical approach to transit expansion, etc - imagine how the politics of the region as it currently stands would play out in a government like that? Self-determination is just step one.

AoD
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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If your plans are dependent on capacity from other jurisdictions, it may not be that great a plan in the first place. That's the reality with Yonge extension - no amount of denial can change that. Not to say it shouldn't go ahead, but there should be a clear start for the DRL as a prerequisite. Perhaps York Region should work with Toronto to make sure it happens - for our sake and yours.
The former point is true, though I was referring firstly to Viva. Unlike Transit City and Hurontario etc., it's proceeded precisely as planned. The subway is behind schedule, but that's on TTC, not York Region. In the meantime, they've held up their end with condos going up at VMC and the BRT ready to go, on schedule.

I agree with your latter point. The political reality is that Toronto has no reason to help YR with the extension and YR has no reason to help Toronto with the DRL. Which goes to my larger, oft-repeated point about how our governance and funding prevent municipalities from working in a common self-interest. You're right too it can't be "forced from above," but there is little evidence it's happening organically.

Start with this problem: YR needs the extension, Toronto does not have adequate infra to allow it.
And, IMHO, you see a microcosm of what all this lack of funding, neutering of proper politics etc. and parochialism have lead to - a point where no one is able to take the actions they know they need to take to ensure a "better future" for the region.

It'd be easy to say, "Well, that's just too bad for York Region" but the reality is that it has far more far-reaching implications. That's the sad part.

Think it's time for a Metro Vancouver style government in the GTHA.
Has been for 20 years.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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I agree with your latter point. The political reality is that Toronto has no reason to help YR with the extension and YR has no reason to help Toronto with the DRL. Which goes to my larger, oft-repeated point about how our governance and funding prevent municipalities from working in a common self-interest. You're right too it can't be "forced from above," but there is little evidence it's happening organically.

Start with this problem: YR needs the extension, Toronto does not have adequate infra to allow it.

And, IMHO, you see a microcosm of what all this lack of funding, neutering of proper politics etc. and parochialism have lead to - a point where no one is able to take the actions they know they need to take to ensure a "better future" for the region.

It'd be easy to say, "Well, that's just too bad for York Region" but the reality is that it has far more far-reaching implications. That's the sad part.

Has been for 20 years.
Well, when transit has been offered as a way to, for the lack of a better phrase, "buy votes", are we surprised with an outcome that is utterly illogical? It would be so easy for the province (or even the Feds) to drop in an say, we will pay for x here, without considering the impact on y because they are frankly a) not threatened in the latter jurisdiction and b) capacity issue of what is a local system is not "their problem". That has got to change.

I mean, just look at DRL - we all know we needed it even back in the 80s - "lucked out" from having to build it due to the early 90s recession, dithered during the megacity period (partly because the province has no intention of ever funding a downtown only line) and now those mistakes are coming back to haunt in the worst ways. This is a failure of transit planning and leadership - heads should roll over this one.

AoD
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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No other municipality is dealing with the following:
  • Decades old, failing transit infrastructure in need of upgrading, and a repairs backlog that is in the order of billions.
  • Chronically over-congested transit system in desperate need of expansion.
  • A very large transit system whose operating budget is practically entirely funded from the fare-box, regardless if fares are coming from 416 or 905.
  • Massive backlogs in other infrastructure like Community Housing, also in the order of billions, that are competing for funds from Toronto's minimal sources of revenue.
Toronto's needs are on a totally different scale from the rest of the province, and even the rest of the country. And yet, even if you think Toronto isn't being hard-done by, well from my perspective at least the rest of the province seems to make a sport of it every election season.
Look, if you wanna blame Mike Harris for how he put Toronto in this untenable position with the unfair double-punch of downloading and amalgamation, I'm right there with you. First in line.

but let's talk straight:
-Toronto's first mayor's most significant policy was a three-year property tax freeze
-David Miller was different, getting COTA from the province as well as funding for stuff like Transit City. Good for him.
-The next mayor scuttled much of that, winning election by promising to reduce property taxes to the rate of inflation or lower, scrapping the Vehicle Registration Tax and (though he failed) eliminating the Land Transfer Tax
-John Tory has similarly pledged to keep prop tax increases below the rate of inflation and has refused to restore the VRT. I give him points - very sincerely - for what he just tried to do but ultimately the tolls and hotel tax were ways of generating revenues by passing the buck to people who were not Toronto taxpayers/voters.

What I take from that is Toronto voters don't understand or don't want to deal with all your bullet points. They want more for less.

So, as much as Toronto is unfairly in a poor position, Torontonians need to own how much of it is their own making. Because a lot of it is. I'm all for helping Toronto, pooling resources and so forth but if Tory doesn't want to be treated like the boy in short pants, let's see successive years of 5% tax increases, real investment in community housing, daycare etc., a stop to endless transit and wasting money on dumb projects like the Gardiner Hybrid, a pledge to restore the VRT and otherwise take advantage of every COTA taxing power, a stop to announcing unfunded megaprojects, like Raildeck Park, and leading an honest discussion with taxpayers - as he did when head of Civic Action - that you cannot have expanded TTC and improved TCHC facilities when your costs go up at the rate of inflation and your taxes stay below it.

It's a doubled-edged sword.


Well, when transit has been offered as a way to, for the lack of a better phrase, "buy votes", are we surprised with an outcome that is utterly illogical? It would be so easy for the province (or even the Feds) to drop in an say, we will pay for x here, without considering the impact on y because they are frankly a) not threatened in the latter jurisdiction and b) capacity issue of what is a local system is not "their problem". That has got to change. ...This is a failure of transit planning and leadership - heads should roll over this one.
Totally agree. That's why we need an independent (but properly constituted and democratic) transit authority. Otherwise, this will never change and our actual priorities will never funded as such.

That's why, the specifics of tolls aside, last week was so frustrating. If a pol with the power to make change, who KNOWS what change needs to take place, cowers in fear of the electorate....Then there's no one else to count on.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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Totally agree. That's why we need an independent (but properly constituted and democratic) transit authority. Otherwise, this will never change and our actual priorities will never funded as such.

That's why, the specifics of tolls aside, last week was so frustrating. If a pol with the power to make change, who KNOWS what change needs to take place, cowers in fear of the electorate....Then there's no one else to count on.
The problem is the electorate - when the issues and interests are micro, politicians respond in such a manner. That's how we got a piecemeal, horsetraded transit expansion plan in the first place.

AoD
 

amnesiajune

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Let's talk straight:
-Toronto's first mayor's most significant policy was a three-year property tax freeze
-David Miller was different, getting COTA from the province as well as funding for stuff like Transit City. Good for him.
-The next mayor scuttled much of that, winning election by promising to reduce property taxes to the rate of inflation or lower, scrapping the Vehicle Registration Tax and (though he failed) eliminating the Land Transfer Tax
-John Tory has similarly pledged to keep prop tax increases below the rate of inflation and has refused to restore the VRT. I give him points - very sincerely - for what he just tried to do but ultimately the tolls and hotel tax were ways of generating revenues by passing the buck to people who were not Toronto taxpayers/voters.
If we're talking straight, let's not leave two important points out of this discussion:

1. David Miller was also an advocate for keeping property tax increases below the rate of inflation. He increased taxes by 3 percent per year in his first term (inflation in those three years was around 2.1%), then campaigned on capping increases to the rate of inflation in 2006, which he did in three of those four years. He also went beyond the province's requirements for bringing the business-residential and multi-residential-residential tax ratios down to 2.5:1, and put in a limit of $1 in business and multi-residential tax increases for every $3 of single-residential increases.

2. The VRT was one of many "fees" that were enacted to make up for the revenue problem that this cap created, and every major mayoral candidate in 2010 promised to repeal it - including Joe Pantalone, who was David Miller's deputy mayor and the left wing's flag-bearer for the 2010 election, and had originally voted for the fee.
 

Dandy Horse

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I'd like to see Rosedale and Summerhill discontinued, so trains could go without stopping from Bloor to St Clair. Imagine the resources these stations consume with no riders
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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I'd like to see Rosedale and Summerhill discontinued, so trains could go without stopping from Bloor to St Clair. Imagine the resources these stations consume with no riders
Pretty much nothing - the only thing it would really save is time, which at 30s a stop (max) is one minute. We won't build stations this way today of course.

AoD
 

amnesiajune

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I'd like to see Rosedale and Summerhill discontinued, so trains could go without stopping from Bloor to St Clair. Imagine the resources these stations consume with no riders
This isn't really feasible since the TTC would have to set up a less reliable bus route between St. Clair and Bloor, and figure out a good way to turn buses around at Bloor. The 97 already has enough issues as it currently runs, with service having to be reorganized every time there's construction somewhere on Yonge.
 

WislaHD

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What I take from that is Toronto voters don't understand or don't want to deal with all your bullet points. They want more for less.

So, as much as Toronto is unfairly in a poor position, Torontonians need to own how much of it is their own making. Because a lot of it is. I'm all for helping Toronto, pooling resources and so forth but if Tory doesn't want to be treated like the boy in short pants, let's see successive years of 5% tax increases, real investment in community housing, daycare etc., a stop to endless transit and wasting money on dumb projects like the Gardiner Hybrid, a pledge to restore the VRT and otherwise take advantage of every COTA taxing power, a stop to announcing unfunded megaprojects, like Raildeck Park, and leading an honest discussion with taxpayers - as he did when head of Civic Action - that you cannot have expanded TTC and improved TCHC facilities when your costs go up at the rate of inflation and your taxes stay below it.

It's a doubled-edged sword.
If John Tory has the courage, we might actually see this happen. I am sure Tory's re-election is all but assured, and he has the excellent scapegoat in Kathleen Wynne for raising the property taxes well beyond the inflation rate.

But this is still problematic, for reasons often discussed in the Transit Funding thread. Property Taxes are very very visible to people, especially demographics most likely to vote. Increasing the property tax is felt immediately. There is a reason why of all sources of revenue, Queen's Park elected to give municipalities Property Taxes - it is so that the electorate blames the municipality and not the province for property tax increases.

I agree with the critique that politicos are unwilling to increase property taxes (or VRT, another very visible although minor revenue tool) for fear of facing the wrath of the electorate - and that the electorate is entirely culpable for this reality. However, this is just the hand we have been dealt with. If we were to have a truly honest discussion with taxpayers, then the question is I think, why can't Toronto invoke a sales tax, a land value tax, or a toll, as other cities across North America and the world can?

(As for the Raildeck Park, it is worth mentioning that one of the considerations is that substantial funding can come from a different pocket specifically marked for parks within old City of Toronto. Money going to the park cannot simply be redirected towards transit.)
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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I agree with the critique that politicos are unwilling to increase property taxes (or VRT, another very visible although minor revenue tool) for fear of facing the wrath of the electorate - and that the electorate is entirely culpable for this reality. However, this is just the hand we have been dealt with. If we were to have a truly honest discussion with taxpayers, then the question is I think, why can't Toronto invoke a sales tax, a land value tax, or a toll, as other cities across North America and the world can?
I guess this is all overlapping with the revenue tools thread but as I recall, city staff presented a series of options to the city and Tory chose to go with the hotel tax and tolls, both of which (repeating myself) allowed him to raise money while largely dodging that fearful and wrathful electorate.

Clearly Wynne wouldn't have allowed sales tax even if they'd asked, so it becomes academic. But it's hypocritical of the province to give Toronto the power, but for a regulation, and then withhold it. At the end of the day, the longer we're mired in this political-transit mess, the lack of municipal fundraising powers, political cowardice etc. loom larger in the big picture of things. The Liberals had enough time to take the steps to finish what they started; namely to take the Greenbelt and Metrolinx and Places to Grow, and close the circle by empowering Metrolinx and implementing revenue tools. Now a lot of what work hangs by something of a precipice.

This subway - capacity and other legit issues aside - was passed down from the province to the YR municipalities. They did everything they were asked to. They were given population targets and intensification targets and were promised infrastructure to support it and so they designed ambitious plans accordingly. Now there's no timeline and doubling the gas tax five years from now - if another government doesn't backtrack - doesn't help the DRL or the YNSE or any other part of those promises.

I thought we were close to facing up to that reality and confronting it, we made a tonne of progress over the past decade, but everything seems much less certain now.
 

rbt

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But this is still problematic, for reasons often discussed in the Transit Funding thread. Property Taxes are very very visible to people, especially demographics most likely to vote. Increasing the property tax is felt immediately. There is a reason why of all sources of revenue, Queen's Park elected to give municipalities Property Taxes - it is so that the electorate blames the municipality and not the province for property tax increases.
Ford showed the way to approving property tax increases; a 30+ year line-item per major project with funds earmarked. This is what happens anyway (general revenue pays debt, debt finances the project upfront) but if folks want to pretend this is different then just do that as it makes little difference to the accountants.
 

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