Many GTA residents are disappointed with the provincial political parties for not tackling the problem of traffic congestion in their election platforms, according to a new Environics poll conducted for the Toronto Board of Trade.
The poll found that 70 per cent of those with an opinion on the campaign said the parties were not focusing enough on reducing gridlock. It also found that 71 per cent believe congestion has gotten worse in the past two years and that 61 per cent said it has reached “crisis proportions” in the GTA.
The Board of Trade was releasing the poll Thursday, along with its own campaign document, which calls for a strong commitment from the provincial parties to address GTA gridlock and to ensure economic co-ordination for the entire region.
Board of Trade president and CEO Carol Wilding said both are crucial to maintaining the entire province’s economic prosperity.
“We really do need to recognize the importance of the Toronto region,” she said. “If we do not address this, we will lose our economic competitiveness.”
According to the Board of Trade, more than 40 per cent of Ontario’s population lives in the Toronto region, which employs nearly 50 per cent of the provincial labour force. But, the campaign document says, the region is suffering because municipalities in the area do not have a co-ordinated economic strategy, which creates an economic drag on the entire province.
The GTA’s economy loses $6-billion a year because of traffic congestion, the document says, adding that by 2031 the average Toronto resident will spend three work weeks a year stuck in traffic if the transportation infrastructure is not expanded.
“We believe it’s at the tipping point,” Ms. Wilding said. “Even though it is a politically difficult question, people are acknowledging we are at crisis proportions both from a quality-of-life perspective and how it is impacting business.”
The Liberal and Conservative parties have promised to spend up to $35-billion on infrastructure, but have not specified how it would be spent. The NDP says it will increase the government’s contribution to municipal public transit operating costs in return for a fare freeze.
The Board of Trade document says the province must produce a financing plan by next spring and commit to a $50-billion plan over 25 years to expand Toronto’s transportation infrastructure. It says all levels of government should be involved.
The document also says that provincial plans must provide specific strategies to ensure that the Toronto region acts “as the single economic unit it is.”
The phone survey of 500 residents of the Greater Toronto Area (225 in the city of Toronto and 275 in the 905 area) was conducted Sept. 7 and 8. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.