Thursday, April 23, 2015

Don't forget it means selling off of a portion of Hydro One (or is it a lease, like the 407 is)?

Ontario budget will be about building transit, Wynne says

‎Premier Kathleen Wynne says Ontarians should all climb aboard her plan to boost transit.

“The days of underspending on infrastructure are over,” Wynne told reporters after stepping off the Union-Pearson Express train that will go into service on June 6.

The premier took the media on the smooth 23-minute ride from Union Station to Pearson Inter‎national…

When Mike Harris was elected Premier in 1995 on his platform of the Common Sense Revolution, the Ontario government faced a $11 billion annual deficit and a $100 billion debt. Seeking to balance the books, a number of publicly owned services were privatized over the following years. Although initially spared, Highway 407 was sold quickly in the year leading up to the 1999 provincial elections. The highway was leased to a conglomerate of private companies for $3.1 billion. The route was subsequently renamed the 407 ETR.[10] The Ontario corporation, known as 407 International Inc., is jointly owned by Cintra Infraestructuras from Spain (43.23%), subsidiaries of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (40%) and Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin (16.77%).[29] The deal included a 99-year lease agreement with unlimited control over the highway and its tolls, dependent on traffic volume; however, the government maintains the right to build a transit system within the highway right-of-way.[10]


I rarely get political on here but this is a big step. Investing in transit should have been done in the 80s and 90s, instead, a toll highway was built. A highway that only benefited the people of Ontario in the short term.

Now the government is extending the highway and adding two bypass toll highways (411 to be built in Whitby and 412 to built in Courtice/Bomanville). Revenue from the Ontario-owned 407 extension and the two bypass routes will be used to maintain the highways and invest in further infrastructure.

My uncle, may he rest in peace, spent years as a transportation planner and consultant, lobbying the provincial government starting in the early 1980s to build an LRT along a proposed "super highway" north of Toronto (now known as Highway 407 ETR). He agreed it should be a toll highway with the revenue being used to build the LRT and then used to maintain the highway and transit corridor.

He often used the Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway, which first opened as a toll bridge, as example of how tolls could be used to pay for infrastructure. Eventually, the tolls were removed because of the congestion they caused, but he saw that using highways to generate money to build transit would be a way to push Ontario into the future. He saw how it worked in the United States. He was confident it could work here.

Nobody listened.

So here we are, 2015, and we're selling off a utility company to pay for transit.


Michael Suddard said...

Add on to the selling off of Hydro One (which carries a debt of it's own by the way the government is conveniently changing the law to get to the money and thereby stick hydro ratepayers with more debt) glossed over with some political spin and you have what it is today.

Political spin? Here's the explanation from today's Ottawa Citizen:

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the lack of push back on the Hydro One sell off proposal. I understand it's just a 40% sale, and price controls will still be maintained by the province (does anyone really believe that's possible?). But this is the farm we're selling here, to private - read profit - interests. Christ. We're already reading more and more about seniors struggling to pay exorbitant rates, TCHC subsidies, loan repayments. How will a private sale help any of this?

I understand we need money for transit but we also need revenue sources for the future. Why do we insist on building something, making it work and then selling it for scrap (407, SkyDome...) and screwing future generations of taxpayers? All this new infrastructure will need to be maintained somehow.

Politicians gotta think up some new tax schemes (hello corporations) and stop selling us out.

Bicky said...

Selling assets, like Hydro One, is short-sighted in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Joe Oliver's granddaughter is going to fix everything ;)