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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne appears before the legislature's justice committee at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on April 30, 2012. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne appears before the legislature's justice committee at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on April 30, 2012. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Ontario mayors back Wynne on transit funding Add to ...

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s transit-building ambitions have received a big boost from a posse of Ontario mayors.

The Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario is backing Ms. Wynne’s call for new revenue streams – likely to entail taxes, tolls or levies – dedicated to building transit. Provincial transit agency Metrolinx will recommend which tools to use in a report later this month.

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They join a chorus of voices, ranging from transit advocates to the business community, across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area demanding dedicated funds to pay for transportation.

The province is already building a series of transit lines, including the Eglinton Avenue LRT in Toronto and dedicated bus corridors in Mississauga, Vaughan, Markham and Oakville.

But to build the next phase of the plan, including a subway line in Toronto and light rail in Mississauga, Brampton and Hamilton, Metrolinx will need a new source of money.

“The GTHA is in crisis from a transit and transportation perspective,” popular Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion said in a statement. “We cannot wait any longer for a solution to the gridlock, so the province must move forward with the Metrolinx plan.”

Other mayors backing the implementation of new revenue streams include Burlington’s Rick Goldring and Barrie’s Jeff Lehman.

The mayors’ resolution also calls for Metrolinx to be more accountable by putting representatives of the area’s cities on its board of directors and reporting back to the municipalities regularly.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is staunchly opposed to any new method of raising revenue for transit, while NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is against road tolls and gasoline taxes. Both favour shifting the burden of paying for transit onto corporations.

Reports, however, show that options such as increased development charges or value capture would not bring in enough money to build all the transit Metrolinx says the GTHA needs.

Follow on Twitter: @adrianmorrow

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