Ontario To Put $1B Into Roads, Transit

Posted on Friday, March 21 at 09:40 by N Say
Ontario to put $1B into roads, transit

Higher-than-expected tax revenue will also be used for affordable housing, McGuinty says

Mar 21, 2008 04:30 AM

Queen's Park Bureau Chief

There will be an additional $1 billion for roads, bridges and transit in Tuesday's provincial budget, Premier Dalton McGuinty promises.

Breaking with the tradition of budget secrecy, McGuinty scooped Finance Minister Dwight Duncan yesterday to make the surprise announcement at a Downsview GO Transit garage.

In a hastily organized move, the premier crashed Transportation Minister Jim Bradley's scheduled announcement that the first of 22 Scottish-built double-decker GO buses would soon hit the road.

"In our budget we will be investing $1 billion in infrastructure to reach every Ontario community – from Windsor to Whitby to Wawa to Walkerton," the premier said.

"We're going to improve public transit, we're going to invest in roads and bridges and we're going to invest in affordable housing," he said.

"These kinds of investments will help create about 10,000 construction jobs and we'll get better housing, better homes for our families, and we'll have more choice – roads or transit – when it comes to getting to work."

The cash windfall is the result of higher-than-expected revenues from corporate, income and retail sales taxes. There's so much money flowing in that McGuinty also pledged new "strategic supports" for industry in the budget, but declined to elaborate.

Beyond the $100 million toward affordable housing that McGuinty announced last Monday, the premier could not say how and where the additional $900 million would be spent.

The money is over and above any funds that would be available to cities and towns if the budget surplus exceeds $800 million when the province's financial statements are finalized this summer.

Toronto Mayor David Miller welcomed McGuinty's move.

"While we will have to wait until the provincial budget for more details, I am encouraged that we will be able to continue to work with the province to make important infrastructure investments in Toronto's public transit, public housing, and roads," Miller said in a statement.

Rob MacIsaac, who chairs Metrolinx which oversees Great Toronto Area transit, called the investment "outstanding."

"We obviously have lots of needs. I think characterizing this as a start is the right way to put it," said MacIsaac, who couldn't say how great an impact the funding would have on the planned $17.5 billion MoveOntario 2020 GTA transit plan. 



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