Three hope­fuls talk re­gional tran­sit

Thorn­hill’s can­di­dates on the Yonge Street Extension and more

Richmond Hill Post - - News | Neighbourhood -

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

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