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Community transportation task force hashes out recommendations to overcome GTA traffic woes

January 11, 2014
By

Mississauga News

MISSISSAUGA — The Move Task Force, a group assigned by the Western GTA Summit to give a community perspective on transportation issues in municipalities west of Toronto, aims to have its recommendations to help tackle economic gridlock by the spring.

A dozen or so volunteer members from the group met Tuesday night at the University of Toronto Mississauga to hash out their timeline as well as various themes they plan to address in their report.

The grassroots organization — rounded out by the live and thrive task forces designated by the summit — has its sights set on covering ease of access (network connectivity), affordability of fares, environmental sustainability, economic impact (job creation), funding project’s such as Metrolinx’s $50-billion Big Move  transit plan and getting the public on board with a viable transportation strategy to get people and goods moving, thus freeing up much wasted time and productivity spent waiting behind the wheel.

Acknowledging the many facets of the transportation debate, co-chair Jeannette Chau wants to ensure that the task force stays on track, completing its rough draft by mid-March and finalizing the proposal by mid-April.

“(Transportation) is such a broad topic that we could probably write three books, but we’re not going to do that,” said Chau, who works as an engineer. “We’re not experts, we’re community oriented…we want to basically step back, and from our point of view as residents of this community, and (share) what would benefit us.”

With the population continually growing in the GTA, and the glacial pace building projects tend to move at, Joe Horneck hopes civic leaders take heed and act on improving transportation in the western GTA.

Setting the foundation for transit, “could be the issue of this decade — at least — because a lot of these projects take so long to happen,” said Horneck, who works in capital markets for a major Canadian bank.

“(Transit) is something that really needs to be addressed now and a lot of forethought has to be put into where we are going to put the 2.5 million people who are arriving in the next 20 years — it’s going to be a really big commitment by the Province and all the municipalities to organize and figure out what they’re going to do.”

Cecil Young agrees, but adds that it all comes down to footing the bill.

“No matter the grandiose plans you have, it’s about funding,” said Young, who proposed an interesting method to collect money for transit, as opposed to increases in gas taxes, to close out the meeting.

Young suggests that the Province could bill drivers on a monthly basis based on their vehicle’s classification. Namely, the vehicle’s engine displacement, weight, age, kilometres travelled and load capacity.

For example, according to his model, charging three cents a kilometre for vehicles two tonnes or less could result in an annual registration fee of $1,200 ($100 a month) for vehicle’s travelling 20,000 km a year.

Noting that the Ministry of Transportation already has the data, he says implementing the model over a five-year period could be a real game-changer because not only would it raise money for transit, but it would create a demand for smaller, more environmentally sustainable vehicles.

“If we get manufacturers to start building smaller cars, the effect on the economy would be better — manufacturing would go up because older cars would be phased out quicker,” he said.

Given the family-van culture of areas like Mississauga, the feasibility of Young’s proposal was met with some criticism from fellow group members.

 



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