Alberta and Ontario plow money into transportation
Both the Alberta and Ontario governments have promised to make rich investments in transportation in their latest ...
Both the Alberta and Ontario governments have promised to make rich investments in transportation in their latest budgets.
Oil-rich Alberta has a projected surplus of $4.1 billion and so can afford to be generous in investing in capital projects. In its three-year budget released on March 22, the province promised a 45 per cent increase over the previous 2005-2008 budget on capital projects. The province now has “a per-capita commitment that is three times the average of other provinces.”
The transportation portion of Alberta’s 2006-2009 capital fund spending increases from $2 billion to $3.6 billion, including twinning Highway 63 to Fort McMurray and Highway 43, and expanding the ring roads in Calgary and Edmonton. The province will also give $3.1 billion from the capital plan to municipalities to spend on community facilities and water and wastewater infrastructure.
Ontario’s 2006-2007 Budget announced March 23 was evidently driven by a need to get drivers moving and people onto public transit, especially in the dense Toronto region. The government announced a new $1.2 billion additional investment in a program called Move Ontario, which the government says “is the largest provincial investment in municipal transit infrastructure improvements in the GTA since the mid-1970s.” The Move Ontario funding builds on the government’s five-year $30 billion ReNew Ontario infrastructure investment plan.
The government will introduce legislation to establish the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority to establish a more integrated transportation network in the GTA and Hamilton regions. The population in these areas has increased by roughly 125,000 people per year in the last five years.
From the Move Ontario funds, $838 million will go to priority transit projects. These include extending the Toronto subway to York University to serve the booming population in that area. That extension will also divert more riders travelling from the northwest of the city onto the Spadina line into the downtown as opposed to riding the crowded Yonge line. (The population in York Region has increased over 50 per cent in the last decade.) There is also $1 million for an environmental assessment over the future of the Toronto subway Scarborough extension, money for bus lanes in Brampton and a separate bus right-of way with 14 stations in Mississauga.
Outside Toronto the province is dedicating part of the existing provincial gasoline taxes to public transit in 110 communities. These include continuing support for the O-Train expansion in Ottawa to connect with residential centres in south Ottawa. There is also a plan to study a 14-kilometre north-south transit corridor to connect Kitchener and Waterloo.
In an effort to ease congestion at border crossings, the Ontario government will especially focus on the Windsor-Detroit Gateway under a program called “Let’s Get Windsor-Essex Moving Strategy.” Other border improvement projects are under way in Niagara, Sarnia and Sault Ste. Marie.
Quebec is also expanding and improving its transportation network. The province recently announced that it will build a new $300-million commuter rail line from Montreal to Mascouche in the north. The line will be 51 kilometres long and will carry up to 6,500 commuters every day on doubledecker cars.