The idea of sustainable communities should recognize that we are putting much too much effort into helping people travel great distances frequently in order to get to work, school, shopping, and entertainment and recreation. Metrolinx predicts increasing distances to be travelled by people to and from the GTA, and MTO predicts increasing travel on the highways. Roads widen, taking up more land and vehicular traffic increases GHG emissions. We are nowhere close to meeting the levels of reduction that are necessary to limit the heating of the planet. GO trains travel more frequently to get people to other places.
Communities must be more local, where people can work, get educated, shop, and recreate nearby. The province should encourage local communities to facilitate buildings where people can work remotely when practical. Such buildings could house people working for many different companies. But the people using the buildings would have the company of each other (being with other people is a key to good physical and mental health), and, being in their own community more hours of the day, could shop easily nearby. This would encourage more stores and places of recreation, entertainment and dining, hopefully not just chains, because customers would be around throughout the day and on weekdays as well as weekends.
Local communities would be healthier because there would be more diverse activities all week long; because fewer residents would have to endure the stress of travel and communities would experience less air pollution. Larger urban areas could reduce the proportions of land taken up by massive transit systems and highways, and dedicate those areas to healthy neighbourhood uses.
Business decisions need to drive transportation planning - need to introduce a comprehensive strategy.
Transit and politics:
We need to remove transit planning from the political realm. Too many decisions are being made based on what will win an election, or on narrow considerations and viewpoints. Public transportation has become a crisis in the GTA. It is expensive to build and, to date, we have left this in the hands of our politicians to control and to fund. Unfortunately, this model has been a disaster. We have witnessed the "filling in" of the Eglington LRT line back in the 1990s by a previous Tory government in the interest of "saving money", the selling off of Hwy 407 to a foreign consortium, the building of the Sheppard subway line to nowhere, the ongoing debates and delays associated with the Scarborough subway extension and a Hwy 412 extension that no one uses. Decisions are made based on political considerations and not what is needed by the people.
Metrolinx was to be the solution, but it has proved to be vulnerable to the same political interference that has marred other transit planning. Politicians, save in a cabinet decision, should be removed from supervising Metrolinx.
The OLP needs to take leadership in this regard if we are to ensure a healthy and prosperous economy in the GTA. Although the Tories have proposed uploading the subway system into a super agency, the Liberals need their own solution. This may also include a super agency which can ensure that proper planning is done to meet the needs of the communities and that appropriate funding is made available. This needs to be done efficiently and effectively so as to avoid untimely delays, political naval gazing and constant bickering at the local level. A new agency needs a long term plan that goes well beyond the four election cycle and political interference.