Three hopefuls talk regional transit
Thornhill’s candidates on the Yonge Street Extension and more
With the provincial election looming closer into view, one of the issues that York Region residents will be keeping an eye on is transit. We’ve grilled Conservative MPP Gila Martow, NDP hopeful Ezra Tanen and Liberal party candidate Juanita Nathan, all of whom represent the riding of Thornhill, on their views on the three biggest transit concerns in the region.
YONGE SUBWAY EXTENSION
Pressure is building from councillors of Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Markham, as well as various resident groups, to get shovels in the ground for a subway extension up to Yonge Street and Highway 7. Ezra Tanen (NDP, Vaughan
Thornhill): I would very much advocate for the Yonge Street subway extension to be open as soon as possible and work with people in the community here and with officials in the province and other municipalities. Public transit is something that the Ontario New Democrats are taking very seriously. They’re the only party to commit to restoring that 50 per cent funding from the provincial government to municipal transit. If you’re looking for a partner in making sure that those transit projects get done, you’ve got to be looking at the Ontario NDP. Juanita Nathan (Liberal Party, Thornhill- Markham): The Liberal party were just able to deliver the Vaughan Subway. In 2016 we invested $55 million to Metrolinx to come up with a design. It’s going to happen. I know that no other government beyond the Wynne government has invested so much in transit, and not only in transit but in so many different infrastructures. For sure I would be advocating for the Yonge Street Extension from my end as well. Gila Martow (Progressive Conservative Party, Vaughan-Thornhill): All I can say is that it’s one of my priorities. It’s something that I’m pushing for. When they come up with a plan publicly, that’s when everybody will know what the plan is. I’m not going to be giving out details before it’s being made public. STOP THE HORNS Markham families are being kept awake late into the night by the sound of incessant GO train horns since the new train schedule was implemented. ET: For the New Democrats in general, one of our principals is working with all stakeholders, communities and the federal government to ensure that we could minimize the impact of increased rail traffic. The Liberals have often failed to consult with local communities that have been affected by increased rail traffic. JN: As the population grows and the trains become more frequent, I’m sure we’re going to come across this issue over and over in many different parts of the city. We need to pay more attention to it, keeping in mind that people’s safety will trump a lot of things. GM: I think everybody’s disappointed that there wasn’t better planning for this. I will guarantee that as soon as we change governments I will ensure that this gets worked on faster and that it’s a priority. But I can’t undo all the mistakes that were made.
TWO FARE WALL
Passengers transferring from the York Region to the TTC have to pay double to get to work. Residents have started campaigning transit operators and local politicians to remove the extra fare. ET: In 1998, Michael Harris’s Conservative government made a lot of moves to download problems onto municipalities. They did a lot of stuff like making cities more responsible for income assistance, and they cut funding for operational budgets for city transit. All these things have not been reversed. Now cities are under a lot of financial pressure. York Regional Transit may not have the kind of funds available in order to make transit cheaper and more accessible. Restoring that 50 per cent funding is really key here. JN: Going forward, anything I can advocate for to make peoples’ lifestyles easier, I will do that from my end. GM: The PC party has had a lot of discussions about transit at the provincial level and co-ordinating with all the different municipal transit companies to have better planning.
Commuter train horns continue to be a pressing point of contention in Markham-Thornhill