The OneCity Transit Plan: A Letter to City Council colleagues

June 27, 2012

Dear Council Colleagues:

For as long as we have been elected officials we have heard individuals, groups, organizations, indeed everyone debate what Toronto needs in terms of transit investment and infrastructure.  The desire for better transit, for a better city, has not abated.  It has strengthened.

But these investments cannot be built without funding.

At 10:30 am today, Wednesday June 27, we will announce the OneCity Transit Plan, a 30-year, $30 billion plan designed to bring transit to every corner of the City of Toronto.

What we are proposing today will, we believe, help lead Toronto to its future, with our funding partners.  OneCity will complement and strengthen any and all forthcoming funding strategies from the Province of Ontario, Metrolinx, and the Federal government.  OneCity introduces CVA Uplift as a viable transit funding option for Toronto.  It will give Toronto “skin in the game”, to help get Toronto the transit everyone demands, sooner rather than later.

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% of the uplift, which is equivalent to a 1.9% 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.

We call our plan “OneCity” because this plan unites all parts of our City through transit.  This plan will benefit every single resident of Toronto, whether they take transit or drive.  We will build the right transit to suit the right demand at the right price, whether it’s LRTs, streetcars or subways, and help make Toronto a leader in public transit once again.

The OneCity Transit Plan boasts six subway and train lines, 10 LRT lines, and five bus and streetcar lines, totaling an impressive 170 km of new transit lines, bringing together many years of discussion on transit planning.

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.  This Scarborough Subway makes sense because the SRT’s ridership numbers were never low and Scarborough transit users deserve service continuity.  Replacing the SRT with a Scarborough Subway will mean no service interruptions and greatly improved services.  TTC riders won’t be stuck with shuttle buses for at least four years, running up and down roads like Kennedy, Brimley, Midland, Ellesmere and Eglinton, as they await a replacement SRT.

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

The other 20 projects will be prioritized by TTC staff in coming months.  These include:

  • 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

Most Torontonians and many major political organizations in Toronto have implored all levels of government to build and improve transit in the 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.

We hope that you will join us today at 10:30 am as we announce this exciting proposal, which will help provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number of Torontonians in the most financially responsible manner.

Please review the material on this website (www.onecitytransitplan.com) and contact us directly with any suggestions or questions.

Sincerely,

Karen Stintz
Chair, Toronto Transit Commission
Councillor, Ward 16 (Eglinton-Lawrence)

Glenn De Baeremaeker
Vice Chair, Toronto Transit Commission
Councillor, Ward 38 (Scarborough Centre)