Would be Vaughan MPP’s recently proposed solutions to alleviate your traffic congestion woes, unfortunately their proposals, ranging from road expansion to “improving” public transit will do nothing to reduce your commute times. Without real funding attached to these promises, your commute will continue to be miserable. In an age of budget deficits, do Vaughan wannabe politicians and their parties have the political will to take on this problem?
Politicians during every recent election claim to have the cure for our traffic congestion blight. They don’t, there is currently no solution to help alleviate traffic congestion in Vaughan or elsewhere in the GTA. In fact what politicians will not tell you is that Vaughan’s traffic congestion problems are going to get far worse before they ever get better.
The City of Vaughan intends to develop 20 570 single and semi-detached houses. Thanks to a recent decision by Vaughan council, the recently approved accelerated development on whitebelt lands will add another 9600 single and semi-detached homes north of the city’s existing urban boundary for a total of 30 170 single and semi-detached homes over the next twenty years. This in a city already composed of approximately 85% single and semi-detached homes.
The average Vaughan citizen doesn’t need a degree in traffic engineering or urban planning to understand what their future will look like. The majority of the new home buyers will commute by car. Regardless of what York Region politicians and planners will tell you about their grand public transit plans for these new growth areas, people don’t move to Vaughan to take a bus for two hours to get to work.
There is currently no plan at the Provincial level to deal with the traffic congestion that is costing the province billions of dollars in lost productivity annually and ruining your quality of life. In fact the Province’s Standing Committee on General Government is currently conducting a study on traffic congestion in the GTA referred to as the study on “gridlock”.
As we await the findings of this study, the Province intends to reward the new growth areas in Halton, Caledon, Peel and York Region with a new mega highway which will stretch from Highway 400 in Vaughan and arc all the way around the Golden Horseshoe down to the Niagara border with Fort Erie. First planned in the Province’s Big Move document, the coyly named GTA West corridor and the Mid-Peninsula Corridor will pave over portions of both the Greenbelt and the Niagara Escarpment.
Unfortunately this new highway will do nothing to alleviate congestion in the long term. According to University of Toronto researchers Gilles Duranton and Matthew Turner, “roads cause traffic”. In their study, The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion, Duranton and Turner, concluded that road construction can never keep pace with road congestion.
In the long term building new roadways does not divert traffic from existing roads. The only mechanism that does help reduce traffic congestion, according to their report, is congestion pricing. Not surprisingly, this solution is not mentioned by any of the political parties. Also not mentioned is the idea of a new tax geared towards raising funding for public transit infrastructure.
In a recent study by Canadian sustainability think-tank Pembina Institute, 70 per cent of Toronto area car commuters stated they are prepared to pay user taxes or tolls if it helps to reduce their commute times.
We need to eliminate car dependency by offering citizens an alternative means of getting around other than by car. This will require billions of dollars over the next twenty years spent on a mix of public transit infrastructure coupled with the political will to curb continued sprawl. Are citizens of Vaughan willing to pay for a shorter commute? Do politicians have the political will to raise the necessary funds through new taxes and tolls? Or do we endure yet more political campaigns with empty promises.