Ontario’s Latest Transportation Plan Full of Gaps and Political Gimmicks

Ford’s PCs will build it all!

The Ontario government finally released its Greater Golden Horseshoe Transportation Plan, which sets out their vision for the region’s transportation system over the next 30 years. Although this Plan was initiated under the Liberal government in 2016, Ford and the PCs have now taken the credit. It’s a shame that a half decade’s work has become Mr. Ford’s political campaign advertisement to buy votes for the next provincial election. Despite extensive stakeholder engagement during the development of the Plan, it is clear that the MTO simply didn’t listen or even give a fuck about anything they heard. Both the City of Mississauga, and the Region of Peel have publicly expressed their discontent regarding the Plan’s lack of details and commitment on key projects such as two-way service on the Milton GO corridor. Note: They weren’t even given the chance to see the Plan before it’s grand release to the entire world. Further, there is absolutely no regard for the overwhelming opposition to Highway 413 from the City of Mississauga, City of Brampton, Region of Peel, and numerous other prominent stakeholders.

The Plan includes a map of ambitious infrastructure investments including two “conceptual” transit lines, specifically a cross-regional connection between Burlington and Oshawa and an extension of the Ontario Line through Kipling station and Pearson Airport before connecting with the western end of the Line 4 subway. It all looks great besides the fact that important details such as costs and timelines are missing. As far as I’m aware, there has never been a single business case or cost-benefit analysis completed on any of these “conceptual” projects. Until then, the map is nothing more than a piece of art with a bunch of lines, which we have seen far too many times. Just one of many plans that would collectively make a great exhibit at the AGO.

Disclaimer: I may be biased on this subject due to my work with a party that has expressed concerns regarding both this plan and Highway 413.

What is Passion?

It was the very first question I was asked in a recent job interview. Not exactly the most typical way to kick off a job interview. As usual, I expected something along the lines of “introduce yourself and why are you qualified for this position?”, but the panel chose to be less conventional this time. It was a surprise, yet a pleasant one. Despite having to think on the spot, I was rather pleased they asked.

I don’t know what made them think of this question but I wonder if they looked at my cover letter and LinkedIn profile, where I identify myself as a “passionate transportation planner”, without even defining what it means. They may have wondered whether it is something I actually practice or just another gimmick to impress them, but here is what it actually means to me:

Well, it’s not just a fruit.

It’s to treat your career as not just a daily 9-5 commitment, but a means to support your personal values and interests. You’re not just working for a salary because the opportunity to contribute to something you care about is a reward itself.

My career isn’t something I just fell into by accident or luck. My post-secondary education and early career experience were carefully planned and executed to get to where I am now. I’ve made sacrifices with big opportunity costs. For example, the time I spent in grad school could have been spent living abroad or earning a full time income, as I had been prior, or pursuing a different education such as an MBA. I chose to study locally at York University for the purpose of gaining the local policy background and build my professional network in the region I wanted to work.

Despite a few bumps along the road, the sacrifices have paid off so far.

Accessibility of Off-Site Work: An Addendum to my Position on Telework

In March, I made a somewhat ignorant, quasi-elitist post about the benefits of telework and the interventions that governments can make to support it. Now that I’ve had the time to reflect, I’m going to self-criticize my own thoughts. Too often, the discourse on telework comes from the narrative of your typical “white-collared” knowledge worker in the centre of an urban area. Given that as much as 12% of Ontarians live in communities unserved or underserved by broadband and the fact that many occupations cannot be done remotely, telework is clearly not a one-size-fits-all solution to keep everybody afloat during these tough times, nor is it necessarily “accessible”. One major theme that has since emerged repeatedly from the COVID-19 discussions online (ironically) is the disproportionate impact that social distancing measures are having on marginalized demographics. Even in well-connected urban areas, many front-line workers don’t have the option to work from home and are therefore faced with the daunting choice of either exposing themselves to germs while on the job or otherwise losing their income, whereas those with the luxury of working remotely can continue to pay their bills and maintain their lifestyles with minimal disruption, and children from lower-income households lacking access to online learning resources fall behind while their more affluent peers who can leverage e-learning motor ahead. Even job interviews now are conducted over GoToMeetings and I’ve seen professional conferences delivered digitally via Zoom, which means that those lacking access to the necessary technologies are now completely cut off from employment, networking and learning opportunities. The current situation further exposes the need for not just broadband internet but also the need to maintain transit operations despite reduced ridership and the need for the social safety net and emergency relief funding to get into the hands of citizens and workers. I expect that any post-pandemic government resiliency strategy be based on a holistic range of perspectives to address the needs of people from various demographics and economic sectors, not all of whom should be expected to participate in the digital universe. For some people, it may be “about the journey” after all.

"Sorry no internet today"