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Dalton's Promises for Toronto
03/10/2003

The day before election day, Barbara Hall posted a notice on her website with letters from Dalton McGuinty and Howard Hampton. These were in response to her letter to party leaders asking how they will deal with the problems facing Toronto. (Eves dissed her.)

Barbara doesn't release her own letter, but Hampton's response seems to include the specific questions that she asked. His letter is worth a read as he does answer the questions more specifically and seems to offer more to the city.

McGuinty's letter is more relevant today. For the record, here's what he has promised us:

My plan will provide the City of Toronto with significant new resources. My plan is more than just talk. My team and I have committed to:

  • Allocating 2 cents of the existing provincial gasoline tax for municipal public transit. This new $312 million/year for transit will double the provincial government's annual investment in public transit. The vast majority of this new funding will be allocated to Toronto and the GTA.
  • Matching federal support for affordable housing and creating 20,000 new housing units in Ontario. We will give priority to the development of affordable housing on Ontario government-owned lands. Our new Ontario Mortgage and Housing Partnership will offer lower-cost financing for non-profit housing. The vast majority of these new homes will be built in Toronto and the GTA.
  • New resources for municipal waste diversion. An additional $35 million a year from the provincial government and new funds from the private sector will assist municipalities in implementing a ban on landfilling organic waste.
  • New resources for the development of brownfield sites. We will provide municipalities and developers with a "tool box" of initiatives to open the redevelopment of these sites, including allocating all provincial revenues from hazardous waste disposal and generation fees for brownfield redevelopment.
  • New leadership on Toronto's Waterfront. Instead of dragging our feet, we will champion the renewal of these vital lands. Every major waterfront redevelopment in the world came about because of strong leadership from upper levels of government. We will show that leadership.
  • A new vision for governance of Toronto and the GTA. We will institute a Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, bringing a region-wide approach to identifying and meeting GTA transit needs.
  • Giving municipalities the power to protect existing rental housing from demolition or conversion to condominiums.
  • An additional new investment of $1.6 billion to improve public education.
  • Investing an additional $300 million for affordable, quality childcare.
  • Securing an immigration agreement with the federal government similar to those shared by other provinces, such as Manitoba and B.C. We will ensure that the City of Toronto receives its fair share of the funding for immigration settlement costs.

Many of these commitments are highlighted in our Growing Strong Communities platform that I released last November. In addition, there are bold policies to fight sprawl and reduce gridlock.

All in all, this is generally an exciting package. Given the deficit that Ernie Eves has left us with, it may be a while before all of this transpires, but we'll be watching to make sure it does.

Interestingly for the gas tax for transit initiative, McGuinty says "the vast majority of this new funding will be allocated to Toronto and the GTA". If the money is being allocated on the basis of ridership, rather than per capita, this is indeed good news for the TTC.

There was another interesting thing in Dalton's letter to Barbara Hall:

I look forward to working with you in government as we implement our commitments to improve Ontario's cities.

WTF? Is this what it sounds like? Is it normal for provincial party leaders to endorse candidates in municipal elections? I don't like it -- of course, I am biased -- but it isn't surprising, since close McGuinty ally George Smitherman is a former Hall campaigner.


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