Ontario Parks

This morning, Premier McGuinty announced that, with the generous assistance of our friends in Ottawa, we are about to see a boom in transit spending.  On parking lots.

About $175-million will go to expanded parking at 12 GO Transit sites, half of which will receive parking structures.  This marks a reversal from the “we won’t build structures because they’re too expensive” policy of many years.  Moreover, it does nothing to address capacity on trains nor on the local transit systems that many GO riders use to reach those trains.

Metrolinx may be working on a regional plan, but this announcement sounds like an echo of the days when commuting meant driving to a parking lot.  Yes, we can build it quickly, but is this what we should be doing with transit infrastructure dollars.

Lurking down at the end of the announcement, almost as an afterthought, is $75.5-million for the Hamilton Junction grade separation.

It appears that the cost of these projects will be shared 50/50 by both governments.

54 thoughts on “Ontario Parks

  1. “There is ZERO chance of a new expressway being built into downtown in this city where the slaying of the Spadina Expressway dragon is part of civic lore.”

    Don’t be so sure about that. All we need is a few people who think otherwise to become politicians. Then you have a problem.

    “Oh and anyone getting free parking at work should be taxed for it on their income tax.”

    It doesn’t work when the company you work for owns the spots.

    Anonopus: the only reason why the lots at Kipling are still full is because the charges haven’t kicked in yet. My wife decided that she had enough of the TTC (quality of service, unreliability, etc) to decide to now drive. Wait until the charges kick in and we’ll see what happens.

    Steve: When expressways were all the rage, downtown land was cheap and seen as a decaying part of town. Today, such an attitude would be laughed at as expressways tearing through neighbourhoods would be seen as destroying land values. The only reason it happens in the 905 is that the province reserved the land decades ago.

    Just look at the reaction to widening roads to accommodate BRT or LRT in York Region. Once a community exists, road expansion is extremely hard to implement and an expressway through an existing neighbourhood would be impossible.


  2. Steve, I agree with your statements. And while I do not want to see expressways tearing through Toronto, there may be others who don’t see things that way. Those same people would look to the cities south of the border and want something similar. Face it, it is entirely possible that there are elements that would want an expressway tearing through neighbourhoods, I’ve seen the proposals from “commuting activist groups”. If those people were to be politicians, they would push this. Sure, Toronto won’t want it, but frankly, I’m not sure if the 905 region would care. It’s not impossible for this outcome to happen.

    The whole point is that you simply cannot ignore the needs of those who must use a car to commute, unlike the calls of many people here. Sooner or later, those notions will backfire, and not in a good way. When money talks in infrastructure projects, it usually goes to roadwork rather than public transit. As it stands, we are at a stalemate, without progress at either front. Transit advocacy has only served to stall expressway development but little headway has been made on public transit in the last 20 years.


  3. Raymond Jean said “Good luck finding a parking spot downtown. If you haven’t noticed, in the last 10 years,… most of those big parking lots have been converted to condos along the harbourfront or office towers,… technically same number of parking spots downtown,… just more public parking spots converted to private.”

    Actually, through some bizarre logic the City often requires developments provide more public spaces (paid of course) than there were in the original parking lot. May not happen everywhere, but it did around the Air Canada Centre. Even the condos are advertising parking.


  4. This expressway fearmongering reminds me of the whole WMD thing – invoke some vague, fictional threat to attempt to give weight to an weak, unrelated argument. But isn’t that the typical conservative gambit? Oh and make it sound like your doing it for the children, and the poor elderly folks, and maybe puppies and kittens too.

    If people want to drive they should at least pay for parking themselves and not expect others to pay it for them.


  5. I find this talk of more expressways into Toronto interesting. I worked with the Scarborough Expressway Coalition to fight against its construction along Kingston Rd and over top of the CN’s Kingston Sub-division to the old east end of the Gardiner. The thing that really killed it was the fact that the residents in Guildwood Village realized that it would make driving more convenient for people who lived east of them and would increase traffic through their neighbourhood. They had GO transit and understood if for selfish reasons that expressways spawned the demand for more expressways.

    I believe one way to even up the parking lot question is to make “free parking” a paid benefit so that people would have to pay tax on it. This might even out the argument and costs for those who would have to pay for parking at the TTC. There is no such thing as a free lunch and some one is paying for the free lot. I do not use any GO or TTC lots, free or otherwise and if I had to pay for my parking at work I would walk (10 minutes versus 8 to drive.) I agree that the demand put on the local traffic network by more GO parking will cause serious traffic problems in some areas. I can walk to the Brampton GO station in 10 minutes an as I worked in Toronto when I moved here that was one reason for choosing my location. Driving in Brampton and Mississauga is becoming very difficult because of congestion. There should be some incentive to people who walk or take public transit to get to the GO instead of driving. Perhaps if we knew the actual annual cost of providing and maintaining those parking spots we could give those who did not park a tax break or a reduced fare; oh that would probably mean they would have to pay me to walk and ride GO.


  6. So many people do not like the idea of subsidizing parking for metropass holders. Fine. Well then there are people who don’t like the idea of their tax dollars subsidizing public transit. Especially when the majority of commuting trips in Ontario is done by car these days. The argument cuts both ways.

    We can go back to the days when the Harris government cut funding for public transit. Or we can find ways to make public transit more attractive to those who need a car among their commuting routine. Taking away any incentive to take public transit (including free parking) when there is no reasonable alternate is not one of them.

    Steve: Please note that I have held back two immense comments from Raymond Jean in this thread that addressed some of Stephen Cheung’s earlier remarks.

    Brevity is a virtue.


  7. Sorry Stephen, I misunderstood. You had wrote of your wife:
    [My wife] has turned in her metropass because with the new charges, it is not cost effective to park at the subway.

    Then you wrote:

    My wife decided that she had enough of the TTC (quality of service, unreliability, etc) to decide to now drive.

    Which was the bigger reason for dumping the TTC? (I don’t mean to be some sort of obnoxious consistency-monger. Obviously it can be both).

    Anyway, once the charges kick-in, if the lots are still full, then all that will have happened is that poorer families (like yours) will have been forced to drive while richer families find spots in the lot. Neutral from a carbon/congestion perspective. Obviously not neutral from an equity perspective. But these are different issues.

    (Unless some of these rich lot-payers used to walk or take the bus to Kipling — possible)


  8. Anonopus: It is indeed both. We looked at the entire picture, and considering all the existing problems with the TTC, the charges for parking were the final straw for her.

    In our case, it is actually cheaper for her and a co-worker to carpool down directly to work instead of taking the TTC. Even if there was a $10 parking charge, we found that driving down directly only increased commuting costs by only a few dollars per month. For people with a car, this option was more convenient.

    And I doubt that only people with deeper pockets would use the lots. To them, it is nothing more than a cash grab. They too would likely commute directly (because they can afford the downtown parking fees). I would be very surprised if the lots were still full after the charges kicked in.

    Steve: now you got ME curious…. 😛

    Steve: I think this is one of those cases where we will just have to let events take their course and see which of the many oracular prophesies here come true.


  9. “We can go back to the days when the Harris government cut funding for public transit. Or we can find ways to make public transit more attractive to those who need a car among their commuting routine. ”

    The old “my way or the highway” (excuse the pun) routine.

    Transit users pay a large part of the cost of the system. Nobody expects FREE transit. Yet some motorists, kings of self-entitlement, shamelessly demand FREE parking. Who’s the real welfare case?


  10. Or we can change it to “my way or the subway” routine. Ok fine. But the point still stands: the argument cuts both ways. Driving taxpayers can always claim that public transit users are the worst welfare cases. Why do you think there is so much resistance in the 905 area to Transit city as it is currently proposed?

    Steve: Why should the 905 even care about Transit City? The network will include effectively a subway across the middle of Eglinton, probably some limited LRT subways on routes like Don Mills and Jane (if it is ever built), and “classic” LRT otherwise. This will be a lot cheaper than miles of subways (or RT) leaving money free to build the Barrie subway.


  11. One parking spot @ $10/day x 200 days (deducting weekends and holidays to be fair) = $2000.00/year. That’s more than a year’s worth of TTC passes. Why on earth should people who may not even be able to afford a car have to pay for others’ parking?

    Man up and pay for your own damn parking. But then again, maybe this is the way the economy is going nowadays, judging from what we see on Wall St. – he who cries the loudest gets the cash.

    Oh and it doesn’t cut both ways, as already stated – transit riders aren’t whining for 100% free rides.


  12. Thank you for at least clarifying my point. This is exactly the kind of “welfare” that the 905 region complains about. You simply cannot shut them out of discussions on how to improve the commuting picture in the GTA.


  13. Justin, just because people have a car does not mean they are flush with cash. I’ve seen many beat up vehicles in TTC parking lots. And $2000/year is too many for some people. Especially for my wife and her carpool partner.

    Sure you may not get free rides, but others think you’re paying way too little for your “fair share”. The cutbacks during the Mike Harris era started from complaints from those who believe that they shouldn’t have to pay to “subsidize public transit riders”. Especially the TTC. We don’t want to go down that road again, do we?


  14. Stephen Cheung claims that:
    “many transit riders …. will be unfairly inconvenienced by the TTC charging parking for metropass users”
    (Why inconvenienced? That’s a strange word to use in the case of a price increase. And why unfairly? What is fair or unfair? This needs to be backed up or it’s just an opinion, and we all got some.)

    In a later comment, Stephen says:
    “The intention is to give the option to commuters who need to use the car a way to use public transit.”
    (Having to use a pay parking lot removes the option to use a car? Wouldn’t the need to pay for licence, insurance, gas, maintenance, and the car itself be an even greater force removing the option to have a car?)

    Then Stephen continues:
    “No one wants to pay more to commute, whether it be through parking fees or increased TTC fares.”
    (Duh. I don’t want to pay my mortgage, either. The equation of a fee [for parking] to a fee increase [for fares] strikes me as disingenuous.)

    “Until transit advocates realize that car commuters have an equal share in the commuting pie, you can expect more resistance to measures such as charging for parking and more calls for more expressways. That latter statement is something you surely do not want. You simply cannot go around and say “screw the car drivers”.”
    (Actually, we can go around saying that if we want. And calls for expressways? I’m satisfied that the callers are all nutcases. And there are plenty of nutcases on the Internet, so who cares.)

    And then:
    “The TTC’s biggest mistake is starting to charge for parking when there are no alternatives available for those who need it. Therefore the only option is for those people who use those lots to drive instead.”
    (Huh, I would have thought that if they paid some money, they could park just as before. Why is paying to park not an option?)

    Well, as it turns out:
    “Justin, just because people have a car does not mean they are flush with cash. I’ve seen many beat up vehicles in TTC parking lots. And $2000/year is too many for some people. Especially for my wife and her carpool partner.”
    (Wait ’till we toll the roads so no one gets a “free ride”.)

    Really, this is all getting pretty tiresome.

    There’s a technique I’ve learned from reading annoying newspaper columnists and pundits: they are actually paid to be annoying and to twist their arguments as best they can. They’re not paying me to deconstruct their arguments and spot the logical fallacies. In fact, I’m paying for the newspaper. So I just don’t read them any more. Leaves more time for reading other stories, and lowers my level of annoyance. Win-win.

    Steve: And, yes, I agree, this is getting tiresome. I am going to close off comments on this thread.


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