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Jennifer Keesmaat, chief planner at the City of Toronto

Jennifer Keesmaat, chief planner at the City of Toronto

TRANSPORTATION

Campaign to explore future of Toronto transit unveiled by chief planner Add to ...

Toronto’s chief planner has unveiled a new campaign that will explore the future of the city’s transportation.

Jennifer Keesmaat discussed the campaign – called “Feeling Congested?” – during a city hall committee meeting Monday. She said it will give residents an opportunity to find ways to fund transit infrastructure.

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“This is, I would argue, the most important conversation we need to have in the city,” she told reporters after the meeting. “We’ve been struggling with this conversation for about a decade now. So we need to really dig in and think really carefully and we need to do a little bit of soul-searching in terms of what we are prepared to pay for and we really do need to negotiate our priorities.”

The campaign’s full website is expected to launch in February. That is also when the city will hold four public consultation sessions. The first public meeting will be Feb. 4 at the York Civic Centre.

Ms. Keesmaat said residents will be able to choose among 17 options to fund transportation, such as tolls or tax increases. She said residents will also be able to say they do not want to fund transportation projects.

“The objective is to identify the revenue tools that are most palatable, that people feel are most reasonable, that they’re willing to embrace, reluctantly,” she said. “Of course, no one wants to pay more, but I think there’s a dawning realization on all of us that we’re going to have to, in fact, pony up if we want to see investments in transportation and particularly transit infrastructure.”

Ms. Keesmaat conceded the amount of time for the public consultation has been “constrained,” but said there was little choice, since staff must report back to city council by April and Metrolinx by June.

Mayor Rob Ford, speaking outside a Board of Trade event Monday night, said of the revenue options, “We have to look at all of them. I don’t support any new taxes, that’s for sure.”

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