TORONTO – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Wednesday the appointment of a 13-member advisory panel to look into ways to fund public transit across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).
The panel, chaired by Ryerson University’s Dr. Anne Golden, will study all options, including the ones recommended by Metrolinx’s $35-billion transit plan.
Metrolinx has recommended a one-per cent hike in the HST, a five-cent-a-litre regional gas tax and a parking space charge worth $350-million a year.
Other panel members include union representatives, property developers, home builders, the Canadian Automobile Association and two citizen members.
The panel will meet with stakeholders and residents in the GTHA to get input on Metrolinx’s recommendations.
Wynne said she wants the new revenue tools to be fair.
“I want to make sure that people understand exactly what those suggestions that Metrolinx made, what they mean, and that people understand the full range of options,” Wynne said.
“We know that people have a lot of expenses. We also know that people are burdened by their commute.”
Dr. Golden said this is not a partisan issue, and that “we have a shared challenge and a shared responsibility to develop an investment plan to deal with this region’s insufficient and inadequate infrastructure.”
“We believe that there’s a cost to an action because there’s a cost to congestion, and it affects all of us economically, socially and environmentally.”
GTHA residents spend an average of 82 minutes a day commuting, the government said, and warned it will rise to 109 minutes by 2031 if nothing is done.
Wynne said she wants to be ready to action on transit strategies by the spring.