Federal Budget 2013 and Toronto's Infrastructure Priorities
How does this year's federal budget, announced yesterday, affect our City? In short, there's some good news, but also a lot of room for improvement.
You may have seen the headlines about new infrastructure funding. The federal government is dedicating $47 billion to infrastructure spending across the country over the next decade, and they're also going to make gas tax transfers more predictable by raising the amount by 2% each year. Stable, predictable funding is an important step towards rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and catching up with our rapid growth.
I've heard clearly from Ward 22 residents that our first priorities for new infrastructure spending should be a new Downtown Relief Subway line, taking pressure off the critically overcrowded Yonge line, and emergency repairs to keep the Gardiner Expressway safe.
Unfortunately, the federal commitment to infrastructure spending won't come close to paying for even these two priorities for Toronto. I am urging the federal government to take more responsibility for solving the serious problem of congestion in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area, which is a major economic challenge and should be a national concern. But I'm also a realist and recognize this is such an urgent problem that we can't wait for the federal government to act – we have to invest in our own infrastructure if we want anything built.
That's why I will continue to be a vocal supporter of Metrolinx's Investment Strategy to pay for improved and expanded transit across Toronto and our region.
Due to our advocacy, Metrolinx, the City of Toronto & the TTC have all formally designated the Downtown Relief Subway Line as a priority for the next phase of transit projects. If we don't clearly focus on how we'll fund transit projects, rather than continuously reopening old transit debates, nothing will get done.
And while this federal budget has some positive news for cities, it still neglects many urban priorities. We desperately need the federal government to develop national plans for daycare, housing, and transit. Remember, 80% of Canadians live in urban areas, and the federal budget should address our needs and reflect our priorities. I will continue advocating that, as density grows in our city, our infrastructure, including schools, roads, public realm, utilities and transit, finally keep up with the growing demand.
Community Clean-Up Day
Spring has finally arrived (at least on the calendar) and it's time to give Toronto a good spring cleaning together! April 19 and 20 are this year's Community Clean-Up Days for schools, businesses, and neighbourhood organizations. You're invited to visit the Community Clean-Up Day website to register your local clean-up or to join an existing clean-up. Please register by April 15 to ensure that the City of Toronto can pick up all the trash and recyclables you collect, at no cost to you.
Earth Hour 2013
8:30 pm tomorrow (Saturday, March 23rd) marks this year's Earth Hour. Please consider turning off your lights, going out to plant a tree or participating in Earthhour.org's Earth Challenges. However you choose to spend your Saturday, please take a moment to focus on your impact on the environment and how you can contribute to a healthier more sustainable planet.
This environmental initiative has gained huge momentum and is celebrated in 152 countries and 7,001 cities across the globe. It unites us all in the fight to preserve the planet for generations to come. Join millions of concerned people from around the world and become involved in Earth Hour. For more information on events in Toronto, please visit http://www.wwf.ca/events/earthhour/event/.
Reminder: Greening Your Condo or Apartment Building
I'm hosting an event with the Green Team of First Unitarian Congregation on how to make your apartment greener and more energy (and cost) efficient, including strategies and resources that are available to you. Let's make a green and healthful Toronto together! Please join me on Tuesday, March 26th at 7 pm at the First Unitarian Congregation, Workman Hall, 175 St. Clair Avenue West.
Downtown Transportation Operations Study
The City of Toronto will host a drop-in event next week to obtain public input as part of a study of transportation in the downtown core.
The Downtown Transportation Operations Study is looking at ways to get more out of the existing transportation infrastructure, in an attempt to make travel in the downtown less challenging and more efficient for all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, drivers and those involved in moving goods across the
The drop-in event will take place in the rotunda at Metro Hall, 55 John St., on Wednesday, March 27th from noon to 9:30 pm.
An online survey is available for the public to provide opinions on downtown transportation issues. The survey is available at http://www.toronto.ca/dtos.
The Trend Towards Historical Preservation in Toronto
Toronto General Hospital Fundraiser
On Thursday, April 25th Toronto General Hospital will be hosting their 4th Annual International Pub Night at St. Lawrence Hall, 157 King St E. This event begins at 7:30 pm and is a fundraiser for the hospital's transplant program. Tickets are $50 and include your first drink. There will be international beer and cider tastings, a raffle, an auction and a live band. For more information or to purchase tickets please visit www.internationalpubnight.com.
Improvements to Snow Removal Update
As I previously communicated to you, I had written to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee asking that they direct the General Manager of Transportation Services to review and report back to the Public Works Committee with recommendations on how to improve the level of service for snow removal. This was of course based on the experiences of many residents of Ward 22 this winter with the City's response to clearing and the general lack of snow removal from our city streets.
At the Public Works Committee meeting this week, the General Manager of Transportation Services was indeed directed to look into these concerns, and will be reporting back to the Committee in the fall on what steps they will be taking to address the concerns that we have raised.
Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about these concerns. I will continue to advocate for you on this critical service.
Safe Beltline Trail Crossings
At the January Community Council meeting, I moved a motion to direct Transportation Services staff to report back to this April's Community Council meeting with viable options to install signalized crossings where the Beltline trail intersects with Oriole Parkway, Avenue Road and Bathurst Street. This would include ensuring that these crossings are fully synchronized with the existing signalized intersections in the area.
This request was in response to concerns raised from trail users that there is no safe crossing that is truly contiguous for residents. While City staff had initially refused any request to consider adding signalized crossings along the Beltline, at our urging, they are now fully reviewing every viable option.
City staff recently reported back to me this week that they need a little more time to complete this report. I have asked them to ensure it is completed as soon as possible. I will keep you updated as I receive more information.