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Parsing the election platforms

The Ontario provincial election is just over a week away. At TriTAG, we don’t endorse particular parties or candidates. We recognize that your vote is a personal choice, informed by your own values and priorities. However, we do want to help you make an informed choice, so we’ve tried to compile what each of the major parties has promised for transportation (and related issues) in their platforms or announcements.

Inter-city transit

The Liberals have pledged $11 billion for high speed rail connecting London, Kitchener, Guelph, and Toronto by 2025. The NDP and the Progressive Conservatives have both promised to complete the environmental assessment for high speed rail, but have not committed to completing it. There is conflicting information from the Green Party regarding their support high speed rail.

The NDP explicitly list two-way all-day GO service to Kitchener as part of their platform, along with electrification of the GO network. They would also engage the federal government to better coordinate VIA and GO passenger services.

The Liberals’ GO Regional Express Rail and high speed rail plans also rely on electrification. (While the Liberal platform does not explicitly mention the Kitchener Line, infrastructure work necessary for high speed rail would also enable two-way GO service.)

The Greens believe two-way all-day GO could happen sooner than 2024, and have also pledged to support better inter-city bus connections.

The Progressive Conservatives have also pledged to fund two-way all-day GO and “cut red tape” to make it happen faster. However, part of the current provincial funding for GO electrification comes from planned carbon cap-and-trade revenues, which the party has vowed to scrap.

Local transit

Both the NDP and the Green Party have pledged to fund 50% of the net operating costs of local transit. The Greens also pledge $1-1.5 billion per year above the 2018 budget estimates for public transit infrastructure.

Liberals are promising reduced GO fares for short trips, cheaper transfers between municipal transit systems, and a seniors’ transit tax credit.

Aside from taking over the Toronto subway system and building more subway lines in the GTA, it’s not clear what the Progressive Conservatives’ plan for local transit is at this time. With promises to cut gas taxes, it’s unknown whether this puts puts budgeted plans at risk to increase municipalities’ share of gas tax to help fund transit.

Cycling and walking

The Liberals would spend $140 million on cycling infrastructure – this is likely the remaining balance of the $225 million pledged to municipalities as part of the climate change action plan.

The Greens would dedicate 5% of the transportation budget to walking and cycling infrastructure (which would work out to over $200 million annually). They would also spend $2.17 billion over four years on safer streets and roads.

The NDP would update the Ontario Cycling Strategy and set specific targets for cycling mode share and infrastructure spending. They would also pass their Vulnerable Road Users bill.

Since the Progressive Conservatives haven’t released a platform and we haven’t heard any announcements from the party pertaining to cycling or walking, we can’t say what a PC government would do. However, as the pledged cycling infrastructure funding in the provincial budget comes from cap-and-trade revenues, it’s possible that this may also be cut.

Roads and driving

The Green Party would introduce congestion pricing and parking levies to help cut traffic and fund transit and active transportation infrastructure.

Progressive Conservatives have promised to cut gasoline taxes by ten cents a litre by lowering fuel taxes and eliminating carbon pricing. As we note above, it’s not clear, but this could have negative implications for transit and cycling funding.

The NDP would lower auto insurance rates by 15% and end the practice of determining premiums by location. They have also promised to do something to slow the swings in gas prices.

The Liberals would continue expanding highways. They have also pledged to reduce auto insurance rates and remove location as a determinant for premiums.

Land use

The Progressive Conservatives have backtracked private comments suggesting they would open up the Greenbelt to suburban development.

The Liberals would expand the Greenbelt into the Waterloo and Paris/Galt moraine complex. They are also promising to continue with their plans to improve housing affordability and increase the supply of smaller multi-unit housing projects. Their infrastructure plan also includes bringing amenities like grocery stores and banks to GO station areas.

The NDP would build 65,000 new affordable units and would strengthen inclusionary zoning regulations.

The Green Party would also expand the Greenbelt and would require 20% of all newly developed units to be affordable.

Vote!

If you haven’t yet, find out where your polling station is to vote. Remember, you don’t need a voting registration card to vote, just ID showing your name and proof of address. You can also vote in advance already, but don’t forget to do so by June 7!

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