Category Archives for "Publications and Links"

Sep 17

Preserving Canada’s Rail Infrastructure and Providing Short Line Railway Assistance

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Major Reports , Northern Ontario , Southwestern Ontario

Transport Action Ontario has sent two recent letters to the Federal Government on Canada’s rail infrastructure.

The first letter (September 8, 2020) discussed an urgent national strategy to preserve rail infrastructure, including financial assistance and a national rail-banking scheme.

The second letter (September 14, 2020) discussed badly-needed financial assistance for short line railways

Both letters can be viewed here.

Aug 20

New Report – Is Building Highway 413 the Best Option for Moving People and Goods?

By Transport Action Ontario | Highways and Bridges , Latest News , Major Reports


For immediate release: Thursday August 20, 2020

A new report – Is Building Highway 413 the Best Option for Moving People & Goods in the GTA-West Region? – shows the proposed GTA-West Highway is a poor use of funds and suggests alternatives to meet the region’s transportation needs

Toronto, Ont. – A  report released today by Environmental Defence, Sustainable Vaughan and Transport Action Ontario, challenges the wisdom of the proposed GTA-West Highway, which would run from the Highway 401/Highway 407 interchange near Milton, to Highway 400 near Kleinburg. This highway proposal, also known as Highway 413, was cancelled in 2018, but then resurrected by the current government. The report argues that the highway will harm the environment and damage communities, while offering little benefit for commuters, making it a poor use of $6 billion tax dollars. 

“We don’t need another highway. Highway 413 was cancelled because the public didn’t want it, and because experts determined that the social, environmental and economic costs of the highway outweighed the meagre benefits that this project could deliver,” said Keith Brooks, Programs Director with Environmental Defence. “Highway 413 is still a bad project, and a waste of tax dollars that would be better spent on public transit. Moreover, with more people expected to work from home in the future, a mega-highway is the wrong fit for the region’s transportation needs.”  

The adverse environmental impacts of a new transportation corridor of this size are significant, and include impacts to rivers, wetlands and forests, the loss of thousands of hectares of prime agricultural lands including about 1000 hectares in the Greenbelt, damage to waterways from road salt, air pollution affecting nearby residents and increased greenhouse gas emissions. 

In addition, there is no evidence to support the idea that highway expansions solve traffic congestion due to what’s known as induced demand. Research has shown that construction of new highway capacity is met soon thereafter with an exactly proportional increase in traffic, due to changes in driving behaviour. Little is accomplished for traffic relief. 

“Highway 413 is a bad investment for the citizens of Ontario. It would damage the environment, consume land for low-value uses, promote urban sprawl, not solve traffic congestion and move Ontario away from its climate change goals,” said Peter Miasek, President of Transport Action Ontario. “The transportation alternatives suggested in this report, together with innovative land use ideas like Brampton’s urban boulevard concept, are a much better investment of money.”

The report shows that investments in GO Rail, light rail, and bus rapid transit projects in the western GTA could move four times as many people as the highway could, for a comparable cost. The report also discusses the alternatives proposed by the expert panel struck by the previous government, which argued that extending and expanding existing highways, congestion pricing, and giving trucks priority on Highway 407ETR would accomplish the goals of Highway 413 at a much reduced cost. 

The province of Ontario has announced a plan to fast track the environmental assessment for the highway, and recently announced the preferred route. The consultation period for the expedited environmental assessment closes on August 22nd. Meanwhile, the City of Brampton recently voted in favour of a walkable, bike-friendly, higher density, boulevard concept in place of Highway 413, reinforcing that the highway is a bad fit for the region. 

“The government has an outdated view of how to boost Ontario’s economy – a new highway, more sprawl, and more pollution isn’t the answer,” adds Keith Brooks. “Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in Ontario. In addition, recent modeling estimated that pollution from traffic causes almost 900 premature deaths per year in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). We don’t need another highway, more cars, and more pollution.”

The report may be viewed below:

Aug 08

Submission for Pre-Budget Consultations in Advance of Upcoming Federal Budget

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Major Reports , Northern Ontario , Southwestern Ontario

Transport Action Canada and its affiliates, including Transport Action Ontario, have prepared a submission to the House of Commons Finance Committee in advance of Federal Budget 2021, titled Railways as the Key to Unlocking Canadian Productivity, Social Inclusion and Climate Change Performance.

We are proposing that a $5B/yr Strategic Rail Infrastructure Fund be created as part of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. We’ve highlighted eight priority rail projects across Canada which could be implemented before the next federal election.

This investment program would go hand-in-hand with a Fair Rail for Passengers Act drawing upon previously debated legislation.

To read the completion submission, use the link below:

Dec 18

Statement on Cancellation of Hamilton LRT Project

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Press Releases and Open Letters , Urban Transit

Transport Action Ontario issued the following statement on December 18, 2019 regarding the cancellation of the Hamilton LRT project.

Transport Action Ontario is profoundly disappointed with the Ontario government decision to cancel the Hamilton LRT project. Work had been underway on this project for many years, with over $160 million expended by Metrolinx on design and property acquisition, with more than 60 properties acquired and residents relocated. There are many troubling aspects about this decision.

Without completing the RFP process, the province’s figure of $5 billion (including 30 years of operating costs) is even more of a guesstimate that the previous government’s forecast. Other LRT projects in Ontario have come in at a much lower figure than this. The fact that the government will not release the third-party report that generated the $5 billion figure is also very troubling.

A business-friendly environment for investment and job creation requires political stability and long-term infrastructure planning. Businesses have been making investments in Hamilton for several years based on the promised LRT. This is a slap in the face that will also make businesses think twice about planned investments along other promised transit corridors in the GTA. This cancellation contradicts Ontario’s objective of being “open for business”. 

It is not clear from the Minister whether all the proven benefits of LRT have been fully considered. Downtown air quality in Hamilton would see significant improvement from the reduction of engine emissions, toxic PM2.5 particulates, brake and tire dust. The negative health effects of these airborne compounds in vehicle traffic-dense areas and their heavy burden on health care costs are alarming the health research community. Higher incidence of respiratory diseases and reduced brain function are, they say, a direct result of poor air quality. LRT in Hamilton would help to alleviate this growing problem.

There is a demonstrated need – economically, socially and environmentally – for the Hamilton LRT. Meanwhile the expert panel that reviewed the widely-opposed 413 GTA-West expressway project found that the need for it could not be adequately demonstrated and that tax dollars invested in transit and road alternatives would do more to reduce congestion. That report has now been deleted from the Ministry of Transportation website, and the $5 billion+ project restarted. The government has thus opened itself up to the perception that it has resurrected a known boondoggle at Hamilton’s expense.

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