STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES ORGANISMES GOUVERNEMENTAUX
Tuesday 10 December 2013 Mardi 10 décembre 2013
The committee met at 0833 in committee room 1.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Good morning, everybody. We’re starting today a bit earlier, and I want to thank everyone for being here a bit earlier.
The first item on the agenda is the consideration of the motion that was brought forward by Mr. Marchese at the last meeting. We were supposed to spend five minutes on that motion. I think you’ve read it into the record.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Yes.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): All three, or was it one motion?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: All three, yes.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Okay. We’re going to move them one at a time.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Yes, Mr. Bartolucci?
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Just before we start, we have some substantial amendments. We’re wondering if we could get concurrence from the committee, because we have a guest waiting to offer her testimony—if we can move this to the end of the meeting?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Sure. Can I get a hint of what your substantial amendments sound like or look like?
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Yes. They have to do with timing—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: And could we get a copy of your substantial amendments, so that I could review them in the meantime?
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: I am sure that we’ll be able to supply those by the end of the meeting, yes.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: So you have substantial amendments that you haven’t seen and that you will supply at the end of the meeting?
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: No, no. I’ve got them, we’ve got them, but I don’t think we have a whole lot of copies. We’ll get them made and we’ll make sure that you get them.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: You guys crack me up.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Well, you know—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Mr. Chair, if you don’t mind, I think Sylwia could photocopy those quickly and get us a copy as quickly as possible, so I could see those substantive amendments.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Okay. Are we all agreed on that?
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: That’ll probably take five minutes.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Do you want to take a 20-minute break or a five-minute break?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: No, no, no. We will continue with our meeting. In the meantime, those will be photocopied and circulated, so I have a good chance to see the substantive amendments.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: That’s not a problem.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): All right. Are we okay with that?
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: It will take five or 10 minutes.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: And in the meantime, we can hear this.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: No problem. Thanks very much.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): So we have agreement to consider the motion at the end of the meeting? Do we have agreement on that?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I can cut down my time for questions in order to be able to have enough time for this in the end.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): All right, thank you. So we’ll do that at the end of the meeting.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): The report of the subcommittee meeting dated Thursday, December 5, 2013—is anyone going to move a motion to adopt that?
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: It’s a substantive text as well.
I move adoption of the subcommittee report on intended appointments dated December 5, 2013.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Okay. Any discussion? None? All those in favour? Opposed? That carries.
AGENCY REVIEW: METROLINX
CITY OF MISSISSAUGA
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): The next item on the agenda is the city of Mississauga. We have Bonnie Crombie, city councillor, ward 5, and Janice Baker, the city manager. Good morning and welcome.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Good morning. Give us a second to get settled in here.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Please take your seats and take your time. Good morning.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Good morning.
Ms. Janice Baker: Good morning.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): You have up to half an hour for your presentation. Just to explain to everyone here today at the meeting, after your presentation we’re going to do one round of—
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Q and A?
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): —questions and so forth. This time we’ll start with the Liberal Party, because last time we started with—I think it was the Conservative Party.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: It was the third party, and now it’s the government.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): That’s right, yes. So the government will go first, then each of the other parties, for 15 minutes. Then we’ll do a second rotation of 10 minutes, okay? That’s what we’ll do, and then we’ll deal with the other item at the very end of the meeting.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Can we start?
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Please. Good morning, again. Welcome.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Terrific. Good morning, everyone. Mr. Chair and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to address you today. I’m pleased to be joined by our city manager and chief administrative officer, Janice Baker. I understand we have 30 minutes to give opening remarks, and I don’t believe we’ll use the entire time but the majority of it. During the question period, Janice will be available to answer any questions of a technical nature that I may not be familiar with.
With respect to my background, before I was a city councillor I was a member of Parliament for Mississauga–Streetsville. During that time, I served on the Standing Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and advocated for Mississauga’s needs at the federal level, so I’m used to sitting at your side of the table in your side of the room and asking the questions, not so much answering them. But we’ll see; I’m sure we’ll be fine.
My time as an MP has given me a unique perspective, and now, as a city councillor, it has given me a better understanding of our city’s needs in relation to other levels of government, as well as the critical need for investments in transit and transportation infrastructure.
I understand that I am here today to provide my comments on behalf of the city of Mississauga about Metrolinx as a government agency. I understand that you’re conducting this review to, among other things, gauge the effectiveness of Metrolinx and its role in transit and in transportation planning in Ontario. I also understand that you’re seeking the perspective of the city of Mississauga on Metrolinx, the investments it has made and plans to make, and likely the proposed revenue tools to fund these investments. I am pleased to be here to provide comments on behalf of my colleagues on Mississauga city council and our mayor, Hazel McCallion.
I should tell you that I have been advocating for increased investments in our transit and transportation infrastructure since I first took office and look forward to seeing the Metrolinx plans become a reality sooner rather than later, especially in Mississauga.
The city of Mississauga’s council has been quite clear on the subject of transit and transportation, and we speak with a single voice. Our goal is simple: to get residents in Mississauga moving by car, bus, GO train and, hopefully in the very near future, light rail transit.
Our council recently struck a transportation committee that meets every three weeks and includes all members of council. We believe that the issues related to transit and transportation are of such great concern to our city and its residents that we have established an entirely separate committee to deal with this issue specifically.
Mississauga is home to 730,000 residents and is part of Peel region, which is home to over 1.2 million people. In the past 20 years, Mississauga has grown by 260,000 people—more than a quarter of a million—and we’ve created over 140,000 new jobs. We are a growing city with ever-increasing challenges, transit and transportation principal among them.
We are a strategic hub next to Toronto, within reach of five 400-series highways. Our southern shore is Lake Ontario, and we’re home to the Toronto Pearson International Airport, or, as Mayor McCallion likes to joke, the Mississauga international airport.
This access to road, air, rail and water makes us an attractive destination for many businesses, including the headquarters of 62 Fortune 500 companies and over 50,000 small and medium-sized businesses and many new residents from every country on the earth.
Our competitive advantage is in large part based on our ability to move people and goods quickly and efficiently. Although we began as a bedroom community to Toronto, our residents now travel to work in all areas of the GTHA, and we have become the sixth-largest city in Canada. In fact, recent studies by our economic development office show that we have become a net importer of jobs.
You are likely not aware, but at the morning peak period, over 92,000 Mississaugans start and end the morning commute within our city limits, but 140,000 GTHA residents are also destined into Mississauga from the surrounding GTHA region every morning. In total, over 417,000 people work in Mississauga every day. We bring in a workforce that’s the size of a small city every day. Moving these people efficiently is becoming an increasing challenge, as they’re not coming from a single destination, but from across a very large region.
The net result of this growth and increased travel demand is that our transportation infrastructure needs—and also our growing congestion—extends beyond municipal borders. They become regional challenges that affect our economy and our way of life.
In my ward, for instance, which encompasses the northeastern portion of Mississauga, I’m often asked by residents how they can quickly and reliably commute not only to Toronto, but also to Milton, Oakville, Brampton and even Scarborough. More and more, people are forced to work further from their homes and they need an efficient way to get there. There is no longer a predictable east-west commuter flow, and commuters need seamless integration between transportation networks across the entire region.
This isn’t news to you, but right now GTHA residents have one of the longest commutes in North America, spending an average of 82 minutes every day in their car or on public transit. This is increasing yearly, and must change. This means time away from the family, decreased economic competitiveness and a disintegration of communities; if you spend three hours a day commuting, it’s tough to be involved in your local community.
In addition to 80,000 residents in my ward, I also represent 45% of all the businesses in Mississauga, and what I hear from them most frequently is about their ability—or frankly, their inability, in many cases—to attract employees. One of the biggest barriers they face is physically getting their employees to their place of employment.
The Airport Corporate Centre, for instance, has taken an initiative, running shuttle buses three times a day to the Islington subway station to ferry employees to and from transit. They do this at their own cost and keenly await the Mississauga BRT, opening soon, as well as continued investments in improved local transit to meet their needs.
Another example is the GTAA—the airport, of course—which employs close to 40,000 people directly and about 185,000 people through indirect jobs related to airport businesses. They share the same concern, but on a larger scale. Not only do they have to contend with getting people to the airport so that they may travel around the world, they also have to get a small city to and from work every day.
Support for Metrolinx: It is for this reason and many others that Mississauga city council has expressed support for Metrolinx in general, and the Big Move plan in particular, and we are very eager to see the Next Wave implemented. The organization is in a very unique position to consider the broader region-wide perspective, and deliver a regional transportation system that is integrated, viable and cost-effective. We cannot do this alone, but we must work together with our regional partners. Metrolinx is able to coordinate this in a way that no other body can. They remove politics and parochialism from the agenda.
In Mississauga, we understand that our competitiveness is tied to our ability to keep people moving and to give them efficient and reliable options for their daily travel. It is estimated that congestion will cost the GTHA $6 billion annually, and nowhere is this more pronounced than in Mississauga.
You only have to look at the 401, the 410, the 403, the QEW, Hurontario Street and Eglinton Avenue in the morning and afternoon rush hours to see our clogged roads and arteries, and buses stuck in traffic. Because residents of the GTHA often travel outside of their municipality to work, our transit and transportation networks must be planned on a regional, rather than city-specific basis.
In Mississauga, we too often feel that transit and transportation planning is Toronto-focused. The talk is about subways versus streetcars, and occasionally LRTs, but never about regional connectivity with the surrounding 905.
From our perspective, for those of us in the 905, Metrolinx is a critically important body. It looks at the issue of transit and transportation planning from a regional perspective and makes decisions based on what projects make the most sense; in other words, what projects will create an integrated network that will allow people and goods to move quickly and efficiently. More importantly, it transcends the local and regional transit systems in the GTHA, and looks at the system holistically.
While investments in Toronto transit are important, so too are investments in transit and transportation in the 905. Subways must connect to other transit. Toronto has a population of 2.6 million people, but the 905 has a population of roughly 3.4 million people—one third of them in Peel region, and growing every year. In total, over 6.5 million people call the GTHA home, and that is projected to grow by four million people in the next 20 years.
Transit is no longer local; it is regional and interconnected. This is our reality, and our planning must reflect this. While Metrolinx is in charge of planning at a regional level, a portion of the revenues that are raised are to be invested in local transit projects at the discretion of other local municipalities. Metrolinx works in collaboration with municipal planners and transit providers to ensure local and regional input, as well as expertise. This, too, is important, as local municipalities know best what their immediate and local transit demands are.
The Hurontario LRT is an excellent example of collaborative regional planning. When completed, it will run 23 kilometres from the Lakeshore to Brampton, connecting two cities and providing greater regional connectivity. We essentially have a bus rapid transit system already running on Hurontario now, moving over 25,000 people every day. The LRT has the capacity to move many more, up to 6,000 per hour, compared to roughly 900 people per hour by car, per lane of traffic. With the growth and intensity planned for the Hurontario corridor, the demand for quick, efficient transit will only rise.
It will be incredibly difficult for us to accommodate the growth and the increased intensification mandated in the Places to Grow Act without adequate transit and transportation investments. This could lead us to slowing development until we have the necessary infrastructure in place to accommodate this significant planned growth. It’s not simply about one project here or there but an integrated regional network. The population growth in Mississauga has a direct effect on other areas of the region, and our planning must reflect this.
We will move more people with an LRT and four lanes of traffic than by bus with many more lanes of traffic, and that’s a reality. We can continue to widen and build more roadways, but they will only continue to be filled by more cars and yet carry fewer people.
We have done our homework, as Mayor McCallion likes to say. We have undertaken thorough consultation and put in place the necessary resources to begin work on this project. Our council has been unanimous in its support of the Hurontario LRT, and we are eager to get moving on this project as our density continues to increase along the Hurontario corridor.
I’m concerned about any attempt to change the project this late in the game. We have spent significant resources to date on consultations and the necessary background work to be ready to build this project. To change the plan at this late stage would be detrimental and would push back the project indefinitely, and it would be a waste of money and thousands of hours of work and study. And it’s time to get moving, frankly.
I will take the opportunity here to diverge for a moment to pre-empt any questions about Brampton’s commitment to the project. Their council recently passed a motion in support of the LRT. They have concerns about the revenue tools, but they do support the plan to build the LRT.
The Metrolinx plan will connect Brampton and Mississauga. It’s an example of the clout they have to cut across municipal boundaries and propose projects that benefit multiple jurisdictions. The same is likely true for the east-west Mississauga bus rapid transitway, the BRT, that connects Mississauga residents to the TTC subway and vice versa. And there are a number of Metrolinx-planned regional projects in the pipeline that will greatly improve the lives of Mississauga residents. These will include:
—the almost completed BRT;
—the planned Hurontario LRT;
—all-day, two-way GO train service on all three western lines;
—improved access to parking at GO train stations;
—an east-west BRT along Dundas Street, eventually connecting Halton to Toronto through Mississauga;
—electrification of the Lakeshore GO line; and
—investments in our highway infrastructure.
We’re excited about the next wave of the Big Move and the future investments that will be made. More importantly, we are pleased that there is a plan in place and that, at the very least, revenue tools have been proposed and a discussion has started. We have recognized that this is a serious issue, and it is imperative that we all address it.
Mississauga’s fair share: Mississauga residents and city council have made our position clear. We want our fair share of transit funding, and any transit planning must be regional in scope and in scale.
We have supported Metrolinx and the Big Move precisely because it provides Mississauga with exciting new transit and transportation projects that will keep our residents moving and our businesses competitive. The 34 projects of the Big Move represent the most significant investment in transit and transportation planning in a generation, and we believe they must be advanced quickly. When gas inevitably hits $2.50 or more per litre, we will be demanding solutions.
These projects have long timelines, and they must be started now. It seems obvious, but if we wait another 20 years, we will be 40 years behind. We’re already behind many other jurisdictions in North America, in Europe and in Asia that have elaborate and efficient public transit systems.
I was recently in Strasbourg, France. They have integrated light rail transit into city streets that are over 300 years old, and they have practically eliminated cars from their downtown core.
To be successful, we must first build the transit and transportation infrastructure and then create a culture around it. You cannot have a culture that values transit and active transportation without the necessary infrastructure. It is no longer acceptable to lament about the transit investments we didn’t make over the past 20 years. The “should haves” just won’t cut it anymore.
In terms of investments in transit and transportation infrastructure, I believe we are 25 to 30 years behind where we should be in relation to the rest of the world. It is negatively affecting our economic competitiveness, our prosperity and the health and vitality of our cities and our region. The time for action is now.
The revenue tools: How do we pay for all of this? I know one of the first questions I will get will be how to fund this suite of projects, so I would be remiss if I did not to address the proposed revenue tools. I think everyone agrees that tough choices will have to be made if we want to properly fund the Big Move and realize this suite of projects. What I can tell you is that from Mississauga’s perspective, we have considered each of the four revenue tools proposed, as well as the additional three tools that promote positive policy benefits. We have also examined the many other proposed tools that were not part of the final suite.
Of those that were presented, the only one we cannot support is an increase in the property tax because the property tax was never designed to fund major capital projects. In fact, we passed a motion to this effect in April of this year. The Region of Peel also passed a motion this year that did not support the use of municipal finance tools, such as property tax, development charges and land value capture. Our regional council did agree that any revenue tools used must be equitably collected and that all municipalities be consulted about the funding tools before they are implemented.
The city of Mississauga is a tightly run ship—I’m sure you will agree—due in large part to the leadership of our mayor, Hazel McCallion, and our veteran councillors.
Like the Region of Peel, the position of the city of Mississauga is that whatever tools are chosen, they be fair and balanced and not place a disproportionate burden on one municipality or region over another. It is not up to us to decide what tools are implemented. Our primary concern is finding a consistent, stable and dedicated source of funding for our future transit and transportation investments. This requires that all three levels of government be at the table in a meaningful way.
Some in Toronto have recently expressed concern that Toronto taxpayers will be funding 905 projects. Well, we share the same concern, but we fear that the 905 will once again be on the hook for 416 projects. For too many years, the 905 was forced to send funds to Toronto for social programming through a program called “pooling.” Over $64 million flowed from the 905 to the 416; it was disproportionate to the residents in the 905 outside of Toronto and should not be repeated. This type of thinking has to end. We must look at planning from a regional perspective and do what is best for all the taxpayers and ensure equality. A body like Metrolinx allows us to do this. At the end of the day, as we all say, there is only one taxpayer. Metrolinx is the agency entrusted with creating a plan and providing the tools with which to fund these projects. It has created a bold plan which has been approved by municipalities across the GTHA.
In conclusion, planning the future transit and transportation for 10 municipalities—over 7,124 square kilometres—for over six million people is not an easy task. I do not envy Bruce McCuaig or Metrolinx and the task that is before them. However, from Mississauga’s perspective, Metrolinx has already begun to make important investments in our future and that of the wider GTHA region.
But to remain effective, Metrolinx must be free from political influence and must be able to do the work that it was tasked to do. The projects we are talking about have a very long timeline, and they will outlive any current government and every current politician. Through projects like the BRT, the Hurontario LRT, all-day two-way GO train service, and many others, Metrolinx is already improving the lives of residents in Mississauga and in the western GTHA.
As I said at the outset, our success is tied to our ability to move goods and people efficiently and effectively. Investing in the infrastructure that allows us to do this is critical to the health of our city and to the economic prosperity of the entire region.
I speak today on behalf of the council of the city of Mississauga and deliver the message that we want to proceed in earnest with the Metrolinx Big Move plan. We support the organization, its mandate and its direction. Our main objective is to build the necessary transit and transportation infrastructure and ensure that as decisions are made, Mississauga is allotted its fair share.
We know the cost of doing nothing is far too high and that investments must be made now. As Mayor McCallion has said many times, you can spend money and do something, or you can spend nothing and change nothing. The time for talk is over. It’s time to get moving, and we couldn’t agree more.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you today. Janice Baker and I are happy to take your questions.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Thank you, Ms. Crombie. We’re going to start the rotation with the Liberal Party. They’ll have 15 minutes to ask you questions, and then we’ll move on to the other parties.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you, Bonnie, and welcome, Janice. Thank you both for attending today—great presentation.
Like you, I served at another level of government. I served at the local and regional level in the town of Oakville and the region of Halton for 18 years, and watched as your community grew and watched as our community started to grow in a pretty big way.
We watched some of the growing pains we were both going through. One of those always came back to transit, always came back to either inter-regional transit or intercity transit or, anyway, that people who were choosing to make our communities their home needed a way to get to work in the morning or needed a way to get back, because they didn’t always work in Mississauga and they didn’t always work in Oakville. They worked elsewhere but chose to live in those communities.
I don’t think anybody at any level of government is getting into heaven on the work we’ve done in transit in the past. You addressed that in your opening remarks, and that there’s no sense in crying over spilt milk and the lost opportunities along the way.
I can just tell you a little story. When I was a lot younger, and my wife and I had just moved to Oakville, she was working in Toronto, and she was using the GO train. In those days it was a single-decker train—it looked more like a subway than what we see on the tracks today—and it was like a sardine can. Whichever government of the day was running it wasn’t doing such a good job of it, and people were just crammed in, like you see in scenes from other cities where they have people who actually push people in.
Well, my wife fainted on the way home one day.
Interjection: Oh, goodness.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: It was so crowded that she fainted, but she couldn’t fall down. She actually fainted on her feet. She kind of crumpled, and somebody sort of helped her up eventually. But that’s how tight, that’s how crowded—those were the conditions that people were putting up with at one point in time.
Flash forward to today: We don’t have it all right yet, but when I look at some of the work that’s being done in Oakville, when I look at the work that’s being done in Clarkson, that enables people to use a service that they really want to use—you know, it’s a service that’s easy to use. It’s one where you can park your car. I know we went through a period where people were driving to the GO train stations, anticipating finding a parking spot, finding that there was nowhere to park and either parking illegally or not taking the train at all. So I know first-hand some of the impacts that these projects can have on a community on a daily basis, on a very practical basis.
We’re talking about the Big Move, which is a big idea, but I think we have to remember that those big ideas provide very meaningful parts of the average person’s day, who lives in Peel, Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville, any community like that. The commute is a big part of the day. I’m spending close to three hours a day commuting now, and that’s quite typical of somebody in Oakville; that’s not unusual, unfortunately. So when people talk about driving in from the rural areas to Toronto, they often forget that there are a number of us here in Toronto who are doing two, three-hour and even longer drives on a daily basis.
I want to talk specifically about the progress that’s being made on a number of fronts, and I wonder if you could speak to four projects that Metrolinx has in the works, in one form or another, and really what they’re going to mean to the economic development of your community and to the everyday life of the commuting public.
You mentioned Brampton in your remarks. Bonnie, I know that Brampton is not your neck of the woods, but being on the committee—and perhaps you, Janice, could add to this. The Brampton Queen Street rapid transit project: What is that going to entail, what does that need to make that happen, and what impact is that going to have on the city of Brampton?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Certainly they see that as a priority for them down the road. It would be 10 kilometres of upgraded transit along Queen Street, and hopefully it would connect in with the city north of Toronto as well. It’s one of their priorities, but as you know, they’ve ranked the Mississauga LRT connectivity a little bit higher. But certainly down the road, we see that as part of the next wave of projects in the suite of projects that are to come.
But I really appreciate what you had said with respect to how it’s not time now to lament what we haven’t done in the past 25 years. What’s important now is that we’ve recognized our mistakes and that we move forward, that we secure those investments so that we can prepare for the next 25 and 30 years, so we can have that seamless transportation and transit infrastructure, so that in Mississauga or in Brampton, wherever it may be, residents can get on the LRT and travel down to the Lakeshore, get on a GO train and travel or commute to downtown Toronto and get on a subway, or vice versa: use the subway, take it down to Islington, get on one of the BRT buses, enter into Mississauga or hop on the LRT and go to Brampton. Won’t that be incredible for regional connectivity?
Do you want to add anything about the Brampton LRT, perhaps?
Ms. Janice Baker: Thank you very much. I think for anyone who has been in Brampton and understands the investment that they’ve made in their Züm system and the BRT, along Queen Street in particular—when you talk to transit riders, what transit riders really want is increased frequency, greater reliability and to get to their destination in the shortest possible time. So a project like the Queen Street BRT for Brampton effectively delivers that to the ridership. You have express service. You have transit priority measures set up and put in place. So part of the investment that they’ve made—and we’ve looked at similar investments. I mean, our BRT is the next level, where you have, actually, a separated, dedicated roadway that will cut commute times in Mississauga on that particular project. If I’m leaving Meadowvale today and trying to get to the Islington subway, it’s going to take me roughly 45 to 47 minutes by bus. With the BRT project that we’re going to have open in 2015, that commute time is actually going to be cut to 23 minutes. So we are cutting commute times by 50% with these kinds of investments.
Brampton certainly is looking at Queen Street. For them, from an east-west perspective, that is their highest priority. They’ve invested very much in the visibility of the system and making it apparent to the ridership that something is changing and these improvements are coming forward. I think these are the kinds of things that have an impact on people’s perceptions of the system and their willingness to use transit and to understand that these investments can help their commute to work become a lot easier for them.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you. I want to move on to the LRT system that’s planned for Hurontario, for Highway 10. I’m just wondering—my colleagues are talking about it a lot because they’re excited about it.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: As we are.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: As I understand from this side of the table, we’re full steam ahead on it. We want to see it happen. There are some questions as to what the other side wants on this specific project. I think there has been a discussion on that. Where are we now in the process? Are we ready to take this to market? Do we know what we want to build? Do we know where it’s going to go? Do we know who it’s going to service, and do we know what economic development it’s going to drive?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: We certainly do, and Janice is going to respond to this, but we are ready to go. We’ve done all our background research, consultations, environmental scans etc.
Ms. Janice Baker: We’ve been working in partnership with Brampton and with Metrolinx over the last two years. We’ve collectively invested $15 million to do the preliminary design on the system, so we now understand the routing. We understand whether we are going up the median or up the side, because it does move along the route. As Bonnie noted, it’s a 23-kilometre route. We’ve done a number of public information sessions in both Mississauga and Brampton and engaged the communities, so they have come out. And I can say that while there certainly are those who question and are concerned about the local impact, in general, we’re finding that there’s just tremendous support for this project because I think people understand the integration between the LRT project, the GO system, the interregional bus system with the BRT. It is really all about the regional network.
In September, our council approved the preliminary design and has now moved the project to what’s known as the TPAP, which is effectively the environmental assessment approval. Brampton has done the same thing in the last couple of weeks. So we are going to be rolling out the TPAP and making the application to the Ministry of the Environment for approval. That will involve some additional public consultation, but we are very hopeful because that’s a truncated process that—by the middle of 2014, we will be standing at the start line, ready to go, waiting for the funding. That’s really the next piece of this puzzle and what’s required in order to trigger construction.
We’ve been talking to Metrolinx about the next steps, and we think the next steps, while the TPAP is being undertaken, are to actually start looking to acquire the technical expertise that we’re going to need to develop both the master agreements and the detailed specifications that would ultimately go out to the marketplace to bid the project. So with the TPAP having been approved, that’s the next request we would go back to our council with: to continue on to create the specifications documents.
It’s very exciting. It’s highly supported in the community. I think we’ve managed those who have concerns. From an economic development perspective, it serves huge employment areas all along the corridor. Anybody who has been to Mississauga and understands the residential density that has been created along that corridor recognizes that you cannot service that kind of density just with cars. I think there’s a tremendous sense of goodwill and support for the project.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you. It’s said that at least one political party down here would perhaps cancel the LRT. That wouldn’t be a good idea obviously from your—
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: We hope that no one will cancel our LRT.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: That’s good. Around the middle of last summer, we saw in Oakville—and I think you did in Port Credit and Clarkson—the implementation of 30-minute service on the GO train. Anecdotally, people around Oakville certainly are saying it’s one of the best things that has ever happened to the community. From a more scientific, sort of clinical perspective, I’m hearing that ridership numbers are up, anywhere from 25% to 30% or 35%, I think perhaps over a four-month period, which is incredible. Now, Oakville is the second-largest station on the system after Union Station, but I’m sure that you’re seeing—are you hearing that in the community, that we’re seeing increased usage during the midday periods?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Absolutely. It gives people options to come in at any point of day. It’s much better for business opportunities. If you have meetings midday, you can come in and out all day long. We’re hoping that all three lines at some point will be all-day, two-way GO, not just the Lakeshore line. But certainly it has been great for our businesses, and our residents as well, to commute back and forth from Oakville and Mississauga into downtown and back.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you. Just going back to the LRT, who would be the intended operator once that system is built?
Ms. Janice Baker: We are going to be recommending to our council that we do a full design, build, finance, operate and maintain proposal. We have been applying to PPP Canada, because we understand that we need the federal government at the table, as well, to assist with funding. Right now, we are certainly heavily invested in the bus business, but we have neither the expertise nor the history with LRT, and we think that this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase a project where you can have private sector investment and private sector involvement along the full continuum. We’ve had those discussions with Metrolinx, and while it’s a decision that is still to be made, that is certainly the recommendation that I will be making to our council.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Wonderful. How much time do I have, Mr. Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): About a minute and 30 seconds.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Okay. Just one quick question then. On the GO Lakeshore express rail service, including electrification, I know that down in the Clarkson area and certainly in southeast Oakville there has been concern over air quality.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: That’s right.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: One of the things that is causing air quality concerns is the QEW vehicular traffic and the fact that our GO trains are still running on diesel. Can you tell me a little bit about any progress that has been made by Metrolinx in conjunction with the city of Mississauga regarding the eventual electrification of GO on the Lakeshore West line?
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I’m going to have to stop there because there are about 20 seconds left. We’re going to come back for another rotation, but I’m going to have to move on to the Conservative Party. There are 15 minutes for the Conservative Party, and then we’ll continue through the rotation around.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: Thank you. Good morning. I was very interested in the discussion pertaining to the funding of the projects because, as you know, at the city of Toronto, we went through this same discussion and had a lot of agonizing debates over how this matter could be paid for. In the end, the city of Toronto council really, I guess, decided against revenue tools, except I think with the possibility of maybe some development charges. Has this matter gone to the Mississauga council?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Yes, it certainly has, and we have passed a motion supporting—well, actually only opposing the use of the property tax; let’s position it that way. So we oppose the use of property taxes as a vehicle to raise the revenues. All other options are on the table, but that’s not for us to determine; that’s for all of you to determine.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: But they really haven’t given any specific taxes, and they’ve just said what they don’t want, but they haven’t said what they do want.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: That’s right, and I indicated at—
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: When are they going to say what they do want?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: And I indicated that the region of Peel also does not support property taxes, land value capture and development charges, in addition. I understand and I read this morning that the Golden panel may even support debt financing. But it’s not for us to make those decisions. I think that’s what all of you are going to do: to make those decisions on how we fund the next move.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: So the Mississauga council hasn’t stated any taxes that they’re in favour of.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: We have not. We have only opposed the property tax.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: Are they likely to do that?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: We are likely not to do that.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: Did the Mississauga council ever deal with the land transfer tax, the one the city of Toronto has?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Yes, we have discussed it, and we are not in support of it at this time.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: You’re not supportive of the land transfer tax?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Not at this time.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: I mean, the problem over the years—and I’ve sat in on lots of transit discussions and seen lots of plans over the years come and go—always is the funding. If it’s going to be funded, somebody has to step up and say, “How are we going to do this?” Does Mississauga have any ideas on how they’re going to fund even their end of it?
Ms. Janice Baker: Well, I mean, I think when we look at the project, we look at some of the models in Toronto, in which the core system has been 100% funded by the provincial and/or federal government. So our principle is that there needs to be a funding mechanism that will take care of the core project costs, and our position is that they should be funded 100% through Metrolinx and however Metrolinx is funded. But there will be ancillary costs that we will have to absorb in order to support the project.
In our capital forecast, for example, the most recent 10-year forecast that we took to council, we’ve allocated $50 million, which would be debt-financed through our own revenue streams. By and large, as you know, having been a former municipal councillor, Toronto has a few more tools than the rest of us because we don’t have the legislative authority today to levy a land transfer tax. We would have to get the legislation changed to allow us to do that, so that would be funded out of the property tax.
What we have been doing, from a financial planning perspective, is that each year, council has been approving a 2% infrastructure levy. Over the last couple of years, we’ve also allocated a portion of that to be able to service additional debt to finance capital projects like the local municipal costs for the LRT. That’s just a simple reality. Mississauga has been very fortunate for decades, really, because of high growth and, I think, some prudent financial decisions in the past. I won’t take credit for them; I’ve only been there about 14 years.
But the notion that we have to use debt as an appropriate, prudent tool in order to fund these projects is something that council has endorsed, and we are putting aside an amount each year and we’re growing that amount each year to ensure that we’ve got the capital funding in place to be able to take on not only the state of good repair that we have, but new projects.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: So you’re actually doing this without implementing new taxes or new revenue tools. You’re just reallocating money that you’re already collecting.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: No, we’ve added the 2%.
Ms. Janice Baker: No, we actually are increasing taxes in order to do that.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: You’re increasing what?
Ms. Janice Baker: Property taxes.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: Property taxes? I thought you didn’t want to do that.
Ms. Janice Baker: We’ve added a 2% levy each year.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: I thought you didn’t want—
Ms. Janice Baker: Well, we don’t want the province to take our only revenue source. That’s the challenge and that’s why the council made the decision that they did. Outside of Toronto, municipalities have two primary sources of revenue: They have property taxes and they have user fees, and some regulatory and fine revenue. So the reality is, to the extent that the province would encroach on property taxes to fund the Metrolinx program, that effectively starts to impact our ability to levy taxes. That was really coming from a perspective that we need to have some flexibility on our side to be able to fund that.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: The province has put forward a plan where they’re wanting this group to look at revenue tools and so on, but the province actually, right now, spends over $120 billion annually. We’re looking at finding $2 billion out of that $128 billion. Do you think maybe the first place we should look is at our existing spending to see if we can’t prioritize some of our existing spending in a way that might reduce the need for new revenue tools?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: I think you should always look at your existing spending. I think you should always look at efficiencies. We do in the city of Mississauga as well. We’ve reduced our costs by 1% this year, as we try and do every year. You should always look at efficiencies, but I think that if you find those efficiencies, they will probably go to reducing your deficit and paying down your debt. They won’t be there to fund new capital projects such as this one.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: I’m not just talking about efficiencies; I’m talking about priorities. For instance, the government implemented, as you know, the all-day kindergarten program. That was a billion-and-a-half plus annually without any revenue tools, but they were able to do that because that was something they wanted to do. They just decided, in their priorities, that they would fund that program. If they had decided to fund public transit, which might have been a much more popular thing to have done, and solved this problem in a large way, they could have done that. But they chose not to do that. I’m just wondering, if a new government came by and they took a look at our priorities, maybe we could find a way to help finance this thing without expanding the revenue tools to the extent that has been proposed.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: I won’t take that as a criticism of all-day kindergarten—
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: No, I just used the example.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: —but every government has its priorities in the legacy it wants to leave.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: But I think, if put to the public, the public might have told them what they would prefer to spend their money on, and maybe the municipal councils might have as well.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: I’m not going to challenge you, but the government at that time had a majority, so—
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: How many lanes are on Hurontario Street now, for the most part?
Ms. Janice Baker: It’s four to six.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Four to six, yes.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: Two up and two down?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Yes. Some places it’s three up and three down.
Ms. Janice Baker: Three up and three down in some areas, and two up and two down in others.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: And if you put the light rail on that road, what does it do to those lanes? Does it reduce it any?
Ms. Janice Baker: There are lane removals as part of the project, but I think, as the councillor has pointed out, your overall carrying capacity on the road goes up.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Up 6,000 per hour. It will still have the two lanes each way and the LRT.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: Was there any thought given to trying to raise any part of this LRT, like in the air, so that you didn’t lose the capacity on the ground?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: We have consensus on this particular project, and any changes at this time would delay and push us further back, and we’re not in favour of any changes to our plan. Our council has voted unanimously in support of the plan as it exists. I think that changing it would increase costs. Monorail, as you’re describing, would increase costs.
Ms. Janice Baker: There is also, from an urban planning perspective, issues with a raised LRT, because what they do effectively is take street traffic up out of the local business area, so if I’m going through a commercial area, people are not walking on the street, they’re riding overhead, so there’s actually a very strong urban planning argument for keeping your foot traffic on the ground, particularly in commercial areas, to support local business.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: That same thing could be said about subways. I mean they’re below ground, but—and I’m going to just turn this over to my colleague—I guess the thing is long term, and we have to look at the capacity of not just transit but the road itself, because as you’ve mentioned in your report there’s expected population growth—enormous growth—in 20 years, and heaven knows what it will be in 40 years, and you will have no other roads to be able to accommodate these cars; it’s unlikely they’re going away.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: I think that if you build more roads, you will have more cars, so as we increase options, people have more options on which to travel. Our objective is connectivity and to move people and to move goods.
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday: That hasn’t worked for 50 years.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): All right. There’s about five minutes left for Mr. Yurek.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thank you, Chair. Thanks for coming in today. I just wanted to talk about the Presto system while I have you here. My understanding is 14% of the riders in Mississauga use Presto. Is that a fair number?
Ms. Janice Baker: I believe, from our most recent budget presentation, that’s correct. It is growing.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: And I see Brampton is 64%, Oakville is 49% and, in Burlington, 33% of their ridership uses Presto. Have you heard those numbers at all?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: I’m looking for that report. I have it with me. Just bear with me a second. If that’s what your statistics say, we probably share the same report.
Ms. Janice Baker: I don’t have the numbers for the other municipalities, so I can’t answer that.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: The bottom line is the use is growing as people are adapting to it. It does provide that seamless transportation network, so that you’re not using a Mississauga bus ticket or bus pass, then buying a GO train ticket and then another ticket for the Toronto subway system or vice versa, so it’s one seamless, integrated pass.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: I was just wondering why there’s such a discrepancy between Mississauga and the other regions.
Ms. Janice Baker: Well, it would depend if GO’s numbers are in the other municipalities or not. Do you know if that includes GO Transit or just local transit?
Mr. Jeff Yurek: I don’t know if it’s separated or not.
Ms. Janice Baker: Our local transit system carries 50 million riders a year, so even 14% is pretty high. If you were to bring GO Transit into that, I think the numbers would be higher, so I would be interested in whether the numbers are comparable.
We are finding that use of Presto is growing. We were an early adopter of Presto. We were one of the first municipalities to roll it out. We have fare boxes on all of our buses. Some of the challenge with Presto is that right now one of the largest systems within the GTA, the TTC, isn’t fully operationalized on Presto. So if I’m a Presto user and I’m going into Toronto every single day, I can’t use my Presto card except at some major hub stations.
So when the system is fully rolled out—and the TTC has made a commitment to roll it out—I think you will see, in general, the use of the Presto system go up.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: I think the stat I’ve just found is that Presto adds 35,000 new customers every month, so people are adopting it and embracing it.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Is that 35,000 across the GTA—
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Yes.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: —or just Mississauga? Okay. Now, your rate structure, you have—do you have para-transit rates, senior rates, university cards and such? Can Presto accommodate that?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Yes.
Ms. Janice Baker: Yes.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: It can accommodate the—and they are accommodating your different rate structure?
Ms. Janice Baker: Yes.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: And you’re saying because the TTC is not fully implementing, that is hindering, you believe, Presto’s expansion into your system?
Ms. Janice Baker: Well, I think it just makes it less convenient right now for people who are starting their trip either in Mississauga and Toronto and are having to transfer between the two systems, but that is under way. That rollout is under way.
I mean, part of the attraction of Presto is the ease of use. So, for example, your question about the passes: If I have a Presto card, they automatically track how many rides I take in a week. So our fare structure is you can have a weekly pass, you can have a monthly pass. If I’m a Presto user, once I go over a certain number of rides, my rate automatically adjusts to either the weekly pass or the monthly pass rate. So it actually helps the consumer in the sense that if I buy a monthly pass and then I get sick for a week and I’m not going to work and I can’t use it, I’ve effectively lost the value of that pass. Under the Presto system, the system actually keeps track of your usage and adjusts you to the rate that’s most favourable to the consumer. So I think that’s part of the reason why we’re seeing the use of the system grow.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: The stat I have here is 2.6 million users by 2016 for the Presto card. It’s facility of use. It just makes it much easier, of course.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Would you not agree on an open system where you don’t really have to go and purchase—
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): We’re going to have to stop. Sorry to interrupt. The time is up. You can save the question, perhaps, for the next rotation.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Unanimous consent for another 10 minutes.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): No, then they’re going to want 10 minutes. But you’ll get 10 minutes the next time around.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: We have motions to deal with.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: We’ll be delighted to stay longer and speak afterwards.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): So it’s the NDP’s turn to ask questions. Fifteen minutes, Mr. Marchese.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you both for coming.
I want to make a quick comment on your comment, Bonnie, about, “Let’s not lament the past.” While that is a useful comment to make, it’s a hurtful one, because we need to look at the past to realize what problems we have caused. Because while the US and other countries in the world were investing in infrastructure, including transit and electric trains, by the way, across most of the world, we weren’t doing that in this country.
So 20 years ago, we were making investments in infrastructures, but in the last 20 years, we haven’t. The problem is that when you lose progressive revenue from corporations, including income taxes, where two political parties have done that over the last 20 years, and you lose close to $17 billion as a government in relatively good economic times, and then all of a sudden you say, “Oh, but now we need to make the investments” in very problematic economic times, you’ve got a big concern. I think you’ll probably agree with me.
Where people are finding it difficult to hold on to a permanent job, when more and more people are working precariously, part time, at minimum wages that are not sustainable because they are poverty wages, when people are working on contract, not permanent jobs, you have a whole lot of people who are living economically with a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety, and we’re soon going to be asking them to not lament the past, but let’s make the invests we need to make. So we all agree.
The question then is, how do we make that fair in this context that I’ve just described to you? And that’s a problem. I don’t know if you have a comment about that.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Just with respect to the investments or lack thereof in transportation, in transit, certainly we are investing in education and health care. So priorities change over time for governments.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Yes, I know. I understand that, Bonnie. I wasn’t saying that. It’s not that priorities change. We haven’t been investing in health and education as much as we could have, had we had that revenue. So the problem is, with less revenue, we have to cut in many different areas, including health and education.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: I think we’ve all been guilty of that: not making the investments that were needed.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: So it’s a comment that I have a difficult time accepting, because if we forget what has gone on in the past, it will be difficult to learn about how we proceed in the future.
You talked about the Queen Street BRT in Brampton; I know that’s not your area, but you seem to be knowledgeable about that and interested in that. I also know that developers decided that they didn’t like the plan that the municipality of Brampton had with respect to where they might want to build, because they want to build along where the Queen Street BRT would be going and the developers decided to build a whole lot of development in the river-lake area, which is on the northern side of Brampton.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: I’m not familiar with it. I’m sorry.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Right. It’s an OMB kind of issue.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Oh, yes, we talked about the OMB.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: So the city took the issue to the OMB because they’re saying, “We are the ones who think about planning. We’re the ones who talk about planning. We want development to happen along Queen Street because that’s where the Queen BRT is going to go.” And the developer has decided to take this issue to the OMB and they won it. They took it to court; of course, they lost it, because it’s all a matter of legalities, not policy questions.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: We certainly share your feelings about the OMB. I just wanted to share that we have a vision of the Hurontario corridor that we’ve been promoting and that we’ve all voted on in favour of intensification of our corridor. We want it to look similar to University Avenue, so we have a combination of business employment and residential condominium intensification to support the LRT. That’s our vision for our corridor. I can’t really speak to Brampton’s vision, but I understand and we share your concerns with the OMB.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I’m glad to hear that. You might just want to remind the government about the need to reform the OMB, because while they’re talking about reviewing development charges and bonusing and parkland allotment, there is no discussion whatsoever about doing a review of the policies of the OMB, which shocked and surprised me and, I must admit, angered me, because I thought we were going to get changes to the OMB and it appears we’re not going to get very much by way of how to rein in the powers of the OMB. Do you have a quick comment?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: We’d be happy to appear before you again to discuss the OMB.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Thank you. I know that Hazel was very critical of Glen Murray after he had proposed to reopen the Big Move back in May during one of those moments that he was thinking out loud, and I know that Hazel blasted him. I’m assuming you agree with Hazel on that one.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: All I can say is that we have a consensus on our plan, and our plan is for light-rail transit that will cross 23 kilometres of Hurontario, from the Lakeshore to downtown Brampton.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Yes, it’s a good idea.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: We don’t want any changes to that plan now, because that will only increase our costs—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: And I support that.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: —and delay the project.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I agree with that too.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: So that’s what we believe.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: And that’s why you were angry with Susan Fennell when she mused out loud about replacing the Hurontario LRT with a rapid bus line.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Well, we de facto have that operating now, as we tried to describe to you. We do have a very good system of buses on Hurontario right now. But we need to move more people, and the capacity for increased residential traffic on the LRT is so much greater than a bus can provide.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: And you were nervous when you heard Mr. Hudak talking about how he would not run LRTs along main streets, as would be the case in Toronto, certainly, but in Mississauga as well.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: My understanding is that the cost of an elevated light rail is about four times, exponentially, and underground, about seven times. So we have voted; we have a consensus on light-rail transit, above ground, from the Lakeshore to Brampton.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I’m glad to hear your message on that one.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: What can I say? We voted in favour of it, we all support it and I don’t want to deviate from it.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: And you shouldn’t. I have a question to both of you about your commitment to the P3 concept. I have to say that Metrolinx appears to be committed to P3s. Infrastructure Ontario appears to be solely committed to P3s. The federal government is giving $1.3-billion worth of money, only if they do P3s, which is fascinating—not if cities decide to do a traditional procurement; no, no, there’s no allotment of money for that. It’s allotment for just P3s. I understand that Janice talked about taking advantage of that fund.
I’ve recently had the opportunity to read a whole lot of literature on this particular file, and what I’m reading scares me a little bit, because P3 projects have been criticized by many auditors across Canada when they’ve done a review of them. As you know, whoever takes on a P3 project makes anywhere from 15% to 20% profit. The borrowing cost of the private sector is much, much higher than the public sector. Everybody appears to know that. The risk that the private sector takes on is passed on and those risks are multiplied many, many, many times in order to be able to recoup monies. At the end of the day, as you both said, there’s only one taxpayer—and the Tories love to use that expression—and we are the ones who end up paying at the end of it.
So while it appears that you’re getting money from the federal government, in the end, we don’t think it’s cheaper, and the reason why we can’t even tell you that we don’t think it’s cheaper is because with most of the contracts that are proprietary, they claim—everyone—that they can’t share that information. A lot of the detail that those who want to look at it critically is missing—so that there’s no comparison. There’s absolutely no way to compare whether or not a private project is any cheaper than a public one because the comparators are often not done very well, and KPMG and all the other big firms are all committed to P3s, so you can’t really get an objective analysis out of all this.
I appreciate your interest in doing that because if you don’t have the expertise, as indeed Toronto did—because Toronto has a great deal of expertise in this and, therefore, they don’t really need to go to P3s. They have a lot of experience, except here with the Eglinton Crosstown, they decided to go P3—God bless. But you’re in a more difficult position. But still, have you done a review of the literature to give you some concerns about the direction you’re going in, and if you do plan to go there, have you thought about the contract and what you might want to build in to protect yourselves?
Ms. Janice Baker: Yes.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: That’s good to know.
Ms. Janice Baker: I think we recognize and understand that the P3 environment, which seems to be the only game in town, to your point, is one where there’s complexity, but I think the public sector is learning through experience from other P3 projects. We certainly recognize and understand that we will need to engage expertise on our side to make sure that any contract that the city of Mississauga enters into has got the right kinds of provisions in there that deal with the risk transfer and that deal with the cost. The issue of risk transfer is one—yes, the private sector, if they are taking on a risk, expect to be compensated for that. That’s the very essence of the model. But I think, ultimately, at the end of the day, when things go wrong in the public sector, we don’t tend to get too much forgiveness on that side either.
These are all choices that have to be made in terms of how you deliver a large project. The Hurontario LRT will be, roughly, a $1.5-billion project. My annual capital budget is roughly $150 million. Am I going to need help? For sure. That’s really part and parcel, I think, of how you have to look at something of that order of magnitude for a municipality of our size.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: When the public does a public procurement for any project, all of the figures are made available to everyone to see. Do you believe we should expect the same of the private contracts? Or do you believe that they can hide some numbers for proprietary reasons?
Ms. Janice Baker: I am all for transparency. In our scenario, I don’t think that there would be anything other than potential proprietary competitive information around the technology or any of that, but I would anticipate the financial arrangements would be disclosed.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Except they’re not—that’s the thing. They generally are not across Canada.
Ms. Janice Baker: Obviously, they do have—you know, every organization, every private sector company, the value that they have is in their own proprietary technology, so I can understand that they would want to protect their interests in that regard. But the financial terms, the terms of the contract—from where I sit and from what I know today, I would think, for example, our council would want those to be transparent because they’re going to have to explain them to the public. There are going to be Mississauga dollars on the table and we’re going to need to be accountable for those.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Right. I expect the Mississauga council is going to say to the private developer, “We want all of the figures to be made public.”
Ms. Janice Baker: These are things that can be included in the document that goes out to the private sector for them to respond to, so that they know going in what the terms and conditions are around disclosure. That’s something that we would pay careful attention to.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): All right. Thank you. We’re going to move on, then, to the Liberals for 10 more minutes. Ms. Hunter.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I want to thank Ms. Crombie and Ms. Baker for their presentation and for appearing before committee today.
I want to talk about your decision, based on your master plan study of 2008-10, to select Hurontario/Main as a transit-oriented corridor. Can you talk about why that decision was made and the choice of the LRT technology?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Maybe I’ll begin and then Janice can finish, because that decision predated me. Certainly, Hurontario was designed to accommodate movement of people and goods. It was designed with the vision that it become like University Avenue, with higher density condominiums and business-employment lands. That was always the rationale: that we would connect from the lake to Brampton using that corridor. That’s why that road was designed that way, with that in mind in the future, that we could secure funding to build that type of people-moving vehicle, like the LRT.
Janice, do you want to add anything—
Ms. Janice Baker: I think Bonnie’s reference in the beginning—I mean, notwithstanding everything that Christopher Hume writes in his columns, Mississauga is actually a reasonably well-planned community. The Hurontario corridor has really realized the vision that was made many years ago.
But there are really two other aspects to it. One is the amount of traffic that exists today, that is moving by bus. I think we all understand that as congestion affects the city, it influences in a negative way your headway times and your frequencies. So we’ve had to add on a regular basis additional buses to the corridor in order to maintain the schedule that we’ve posted for the consumer. So the demand was certainly there.
Secondly, we went through a very robust business case assessment with Metrolinx, and we looked at both the Hurontario corridor and the Dundas corridor east-west, which I would suggest to you will be in the next Next Wave of projects. When they did the business case analysis, they looked at the range of technology from BRT right up, quite frankly, to subway. Through a methodology that they’ve developed, they looked at the cost benefit, and the highest cost benefit for Mississauga on that particular corridor was the LRT technology, and that was the corridor that rated the highest on the criteria that they established.
Our staff were very much involved in that process, so they understood the criteria and, I think, supported the methodology that was being used to make those assessments.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: If I could just quickly add that Hurontario, we know from our studies, is the most highly travelled route, so it made the most logical sense. We already have buses moving 25,000 people along that Hurontario corridor today. So when we move to LRT—hopefully soon—we’ll have the ability to move 6,000 per hour.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: That’s really great. I know that over a hundred cities worldwide have already implemented the LRT technology, so it is a proven technology. Cities such as Paris combine LRT networks with subway networks and other types of transit routes. It’s all about an integrated system, and it’s making decisions based on that ridership demand that you talk about but also the future growth plans for your communities.
I want to talk a little bit about what that investment in these higher order transit routes will do for the future growth of your community, and if you can talk to us about some of the benefits, the health benefits, getting people out of cars and into transit and how that will improve the quality of life and livability of your municipality.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Certainly we’re expecting continued growth into Peel and into Mississauga. We’re estimating that our population, by 2030, will be 830,000 people—just shy of a million people. So we need to continue to move people, we continue to move goods, and what that does is not only reduce commute times—as we know, we have the highest in North America right now—but it adds to our competitiveness, our prosperity and investment in our community. Frankly, it speaks to quality of life and the time that people can share with their families rather than commuting in their car and probably speaking to them on their cellphones as they’re driving home, saying, “I’ll be late again tonight, dear. I’m stuck in traffic.” So, competitiveness and quality of life.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: That’s great. Talk about the cost of congestion and your proximity, in fact, Ms. Crombie, in your ward to the airport. I’m sure that you see the congestion all around, whether it’s through truck traffic, commuter traffic. All of these impact our region’s ability to compete and grow economically. The experts have said that this is a $6-billion cost in lost productivity. Can you comment on that number and what the real cost is to the region?
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: We don’t know what the cost is to Mississauga specifically, but you can see it. You can see it at rush hour. You can see it throughout periods of the day. Part of our competitiveness as a city is our proximity to all the highways that I noted: the 401, the 403, the QEW etc. So when they’re clogged, people can’t get to work; trucks can’t deliver their goods; people can’t get to appointments. Emergency vehicles can’t manoeuvre. So there is a very serious cost to our competitiveness as a region, as a connected region and as a city. The bottom line is we need to continue to move people and goods.
Ms. Janice Baker: And, maybe, if I can add to that: When we did a very community-based strategic planning process, starting in 2008, one in four comments—if we went out and said to people, “What’s on your mind and what is your biggest concern?”—one in four said transit and transportation.
From the community perspective, as Bonnie says, they’re seeing it; they’re experiencing it. They understand that commute times are increasing. Traffic is increasing. As I mentioned earlier, we have had to make a direct investment annually, and I would estimate it’s somewhere in the range of maybe $800,000 to $1 million, where we have been investing in additional local transit service, some of which is just to hold our head above water. On Hurontario in particular, we’ve seen the average speed—and this is on our website—over the last five years on our transit routes has declined about five kilometres an hour, and that is a direct reflection of the fact that there’s more traffic on the road and so it takes our buses longer to get through their route. So the only way that you can maintain service levels is to add additional buses, which we’ve been doing.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: If I can just add that the mayor and I often visit many of the 50,000 small and medium-sized companies—not all of them—60 Fortune 500s. We go on what we call corporate calls, and we ask them how their municipality can help them, what their key issues are, what their key barriers to business are, and the number one is often the SR&ED credits they’re able or unable to get; but number two is always transit and transportation and what could we do to improve the flow. Their primary concern is getting their employees to work and back home again. Sometimes it’s as simple as: Can we provide them with a bus shelter, or what can we do to reduce traffic and gridlock? Those are very, very key issues for our businesses in Mississauga.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: That’s great.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Rick Bartolucci): A minute and a half, Mitzie.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: I have two questions. I think I want to talk a little bit about the value of an integrated fare card system that allows the 10 regional transit authorities to have that seamless card versus having a commuter keep multiple cards, and the benefit of that, as you see it, in terms of an integrated seamless transit system across the GTHA.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: I think you’ve just described it very well. It’s facility of use; it’s ease of use; it’s just very practical. Whether it be the bus system, the BRT, the bus system in Mississauga to the GO train, already you need two different cards. If they have to come to use the Toronto subway, that’s a third or, in the reverse commute, which is often the case as well, the GO train to Mississauga and bus systems. You know, you’re already fumbling with different fare cards. It’s just facility of use. One integrated pass is the solution, and I think we’ll see more and more residents adopting it.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Rick Bartolucci): Great. Thanks very much, Bonnie.
We’re going to move now to the Conservative Party—the official opposition, I should say—and we’re going to start off with Mr. Klees. Frank?
Mr. Frank Klees: Thank you, Chair. I’d like to just follow up on Presto, if I could.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: So much for Presto.
Mr. Frank Klees: Hazel McCallion was quoted in the Mississauga media as saying—and I’ll quote, “Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion called the province’s new Presto fare card system a ‘disaster’ during a city budget committee meeting.”
Then I have minutes here from your December 10 council meeting—
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: That was last year? This year?
Mr. Frank Klees: Yes, December 10, 2013.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: December 10? That’s today.
Mr. Frank Klees: Well, then, it must have been 2012, because this is on your letterhead.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: It has to be 2012, yes.
Mr. Frank Klees: So it would have been last year, I guess. It indicates that Mayor McCallion spoke to the Presto card and noted there are some issues, that there would be a meeting with city staff and Metrolinx staff to review these issues. Actually, on this, it does say that it was January 23 of this year, 2013. It was a 9 o’clock meeting.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Oh, January of this year.
Mr. Frank Klees: January 23. So obviously the mayor has some concerns. Could you share with us what her concerns were as recently as this past January?
Ms. Janice Baker: Well, I think the mayor’s concerns relate to the earlier rollout of Presto. It was a complicated implementation for a number of different reasons. I think there were some challenges early on in the process with the consultant and, as you know, if you know anything about Mayor McCallion, you know she has a very long memory. I think those issues have been resolved and the Presto system today is working fairly well.
I can tell you that at the time we were having some reliability issues on our buses, in other words, the number of cards—if you got on to the bus and you tried to swipe your Presto card—we were having machine failures. In other words, the customer’s card did not get read properly. Those have been resolved, and our failure rate now has gone down within, I’m going to say, a tolerance, because it’s never going to be perfect. Machines are mechanical things; sometimes they break down. If my recollection is accurate, those are the issues that she was referring to at the time.
I’m not going to suggest to you that Presto didn’t have a painful birth; I think it did. We had to work through a lot of implementation challenges with the Presto system. I think we have worked through those challenges and, as of today, my transit folks would tell you that Presto is working reasonably well.
Mr. Frank Klees: So all of the issues that the mayor addressed just a month ago or less than a month ago—
Ms. Janice Baker: Well, that’s almost a year ago.
Mr. Frank Klees: No, no. This is the general committee, Wednesday, January 23, 2013.
Ms. Janice Baker: Well, January’s almost a year ago—
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: It’s December; it’s a year ago.
Mr. Frank Klees: All of those issues have been addressed, then?
Ms. Janice Baker: Right now, as of today, the Presto system is working. From our perspective, it’s acceptable. We have an acceptable rate of failure, which is quite low. I think it’s less than 1%. The use of Presto is growing, and I think our folks would say that we’ve gotten through the challenges and the issues that are there and that were there, and some of them were significant. In fact, we delayed our rollout of Presto by almost a year because of some of the issues that we had, but as of today, the system is working as it was intended to work.
Mr. Frank Klees: One of the reasons that it’s not implemented throughout the TTC is because Presto is having a very difficult time coming up to the standard of the RFP that the TTC wanted. You’re aware that the TTC had already contracted with another provider. That other provider was able to provide an open payment system, which means that people aren’t restricted to the Presto card. They could use a credit card; they could use a debit card. That technology is what the TTC wanted to have implemented, and Metrolinx exerted, essentially, blackmail on the city of Toronto and on the TTC to say, “If you don’t use Presto, you will not qualify for gas taxes and you will not qualify for some infrastructure funding that is already in the pipe.” They succumbed to that, and as a result, the implementation is staggering at the TTC. There are all kinds of implementation problems in Ottawa. I continue to get feedback from users of the Presto card throughout York region and other places to say that we have consistent problems, and we’re nowhere near the open payment system.
The region of Waterloo just recently is in the process of putting an RFP out for a fare card system. They’re not prepared to settle for Metrolinx’s less-than-leading-edge technology. In fact, Metrolinx refused to participate in the open bidding, in the RFP, saying, “The only way we’ll do business is if we enter into a memorandum of understanding, so no public tendering for the system; you’re going to take our card.”
Everything I know about the city of Mississauga—and I think I’m looking at the next mayor. I understand that it may not be formal, but probably that’s who I’m looking at. Everything I understand about the city of Mississauga is that you do things in a transparent way, that you want the best deal for the ratepayer, that you want the most efficient and best systems in place. Did Metrolinx allow the city of Mississauga to enter into a public tendering process for this fare card?
Ms. Janice Baker: No. The deal is that there was a desire for a GTA-wide, integrated fare payment system.
Mr. Frank Klees: I’d like to stop you there, if you don’t mind. The answer is very significant: There was no public tendering. Yes, the objective is an integrated card system. That integrated card system is not only able to be delivered by Presto. In fact, the competitor out there, ACS Xerox, offered precisely that: an integrated system that would accept Presto so that there wouldn’t be sunken costs, that would integrate all of the regional authorities and that would provide the leading-edge technology and the open payment system. And they were offering, and are still offering, to do this on an open public tender.
If, in fact, there was an open public tender tomorrow that said, “Look, that system—we want Presto to be accepted, but we want to ensure that we’re getting the best deal, the best value for the dollar, and there may well be hundreds of millions of dollars of savings in the long term under that system,” would the city of Mississauga want to participate in that open, public, transparent tendering system, rather than be locked into a Presto agreement that, even as the Auditor General admitted and reported in his report, has yet multi-millions of dollars of development to go through and is projected to be the most costly fare card system on the planet? And who knows where it could lead. Would the city of Toronto participate in an open, public, transparent tendering system to ensure it has got the best deal? I’d like to ask—
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Sure. I think what we need is one regionally integrated system that works, and I think you’re trying to re-evaluate decisions that have been made. For whatever rationale they had for this particular process, this particular card, this vendor was adopted.
I’m not familiar with all the reasons they were chosen over someone else. I hope that the process had been transparent because, of course, we support transparency, but it sounds like there were some initial glitches. Wouldn’t it be better to work out the operating glitches of this system, since we’ve already all begun to adopt it, rather than revert and start over and look at something different?
Mr. Frank Klees: But that’s what they said about eHealth, you see. That’s what they said about eHealth, and the same people are behind Presto who were behind eHealth, who said, “Keep paying us our consulting fees because we’re going to work out the glitches.” We still don’t have an eHealth system, and we still don’t have a fare card system that actually works that is leading-edge technology. So—
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I’m going to have to cut you off—
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: But I’m sure we have a contract in place that we wouldn’t want to break at this point. So it’s better to work out the operating glitches than to start over at this point, I would think.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): We’ll have to stop there.
Mr. Frank Klees: I’m disappointed in that response.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): All right. We’ll go to the third party for the second rotation. Mr. Marchese.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I have no more questions for you. I thank you both, Bonnie and Janice. We do have some little work, and I wanted to be sure we take care of that. Thank you.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Sure. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): No other questions from the third party? So that completes—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: So we move on.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): All right. Thank you. We’ll move on.
Ms. Bonnie Crombie: Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I just want to thank the pair for their presentation. Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): We’ll move on from that from here. I think there’s a quick housekeeping matter we can deal with here, and that has to do with a couple of appointments.
I think all three parties are aware of the fact that we had two intended appointments for this committee. The deadline to review the intended appointment for Janet Kilty, nominated as member of the Niagara grant review team, selected from the September 27 certificate, is December 27, 2013. The deadline to review the intended appointment of Kenneth Quesnelle, nominated as vice-chair of the Ontario Energy Board, selected from the November 22 certificate, is December 22, 2013. Do we have unanimous consent to extend these deadlines to February 18, 2014? Agreed? Okay, agreed.
There’s been a motion that Mr. Marchese put forward last meeting. I think there has been circulated an amendment by the Liberal Party—just got this a few minutes ago. There are a few amendments here. Should we just read into the record the amendments?
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Okay, let’s deal with the first motion first that Mr. Marchese put forward. That was read into the record before. Mr. Marchese, I think you read it into the record already.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Yes, they’ve been read.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Okay. Now, there’s an amendment to it.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I’m assuming there’s an amendment, then.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Okay. Does the government want to read that in?
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: I move that the following sentence be struck from the main motion:
“that these documents be produced within 30 days of this motion passing; and that responsive documents be provided in an electronic, searchable PDF.”
And replaced with:
“that these documents be produced within 60 days of this motion passing; and that responsive documents be provided in an electronic, searchable PDF.”
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): All right. Thank you. Any discussion?
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: You know what? Given the time of the year, Chair, given the dynamics around this, we thought 30 days was very, very quick and may not be possible. So with this amendment, we would suggest that we’d get a better product at the end of the day. I think that’s what we all want from this.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Thank you. Any further discussion? Mr. Flynn.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you. Just to follow up on my colleague’s points, what I think this would be, for the MTO, anyway, is the first substantial document search that this ministry has had. Certainly I think the past few years have seen a change in the way that information is requested from various agencies and ministries. With technology moving to a digital format, it makes sense that these sorts of requests would take this—the experience has been, I think all members will agree, that the searches are quite time-consuming. Oftentimes a search is done and then, for a variety of reasons, other information is found after that.
Obviously there’s a level of difficulty that comes with the various search terms that are used. I wouldn’t blame anybody for that. I think it’s people who are just trying to adapt to the technology that’s being used for these searches today. Actually, I think some of the ministries are now claiming that they spend more time searching and preparing for document requests from committees than actually doing what we pay them to do, and that is to bring forward good public policy for debate by the House, for debate by the members of this committee. In some cases I think that’s true.
My colleague, I think, makes a very, very good point. I think we can relate this to our own office operations, in that this time of the year is a time where people spend time with their friends and their families, with a variety of things that are taking place around the Christmas season.
To ask for this to be done in 30 days—we’re not suggesting that it not be done. We actually agree that it be done, but I think we need to do it in a responsible way. We’ve got the Christmas holidays around the corner. We’ve just celebrated some holidays within the Jewish faith. It’s that time of the year, where I think people see a downturn in activity in general and where people take a little bit of time to spend with their friends and families.
I think that if we start off on the right foot, we’ll probably get a better product. What we’re suggesting by this motion is that, by changing it from 30 days to 60 days, we’re able to actually provide the time—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Mr. Chair, I think he’s made his point.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I’m sorry?
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: We’re providing the time that is necessary—
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I think he’s winding down.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: We’re providing the time that is necessary to do the job at home—I’m nowhere near making my point, Chair, just for the record. It seems to me that—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Mr. Chair, I would call the question.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I don’t think you’re in a position to call the question. I think each member of this committee is entitled to speak, and is entitled to speak for 20 minutes on each of the amendments.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): The member is allowed to debate.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you. What the ministry is asking and what the minister is asking is that they need the time to seek the legal counsel that they need—that is necessary. To procure the software—if you want them to do this search properly, then we need to ask them to—
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I’ll let you speak to your point. Mr. Yurek, did you want to say—
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Okay. Thank you. I’m quite happy to wait until the opposition says what they have to say.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Mr. Yurek, go ahead.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Just for the record, in good faith, we agreed to do this at the end of committee so we didn’t interfere with the deputants on behalf of the Liberal Party. If they’re intending to prolong this debate so that we don’t vote on the motion, I find that quite disgusting and in bad taste.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Okay. I’m following the rules from the standing orders that pertain here, and I’ve spoken to the committee Clerk. She says he’s allowed to make his points.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Which I’m trying to do. I’ve spent some time in the House this year and this season hearing members from across the aisle say that it’s their right to speak—“You’re not going to stop me from speaking. I’ve got something to say. I’m going to stand up for my constituents, and I’m going to be heard”—and it seems to me that those rules and those feelings should also apply in here.
I was trying to make the point that the ministry is not saying they don’t want to produce these documents; they’re quite happy to do that. They’re quite happy to comply with what’s being asked for by this committee. What they’re saying is that they need to procure the proper software to make sure that any errors that were made in the past by other ministries that were asked—they don’t want to repeat those errors, obviously. They want to do this search properly, and they also need the legal advice that is necessary to make sure that this takes place.
So, 30 days, to me—
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: If the members opposite agree to 60 days, I could stop talking now.
Miss Monique Taylor: This speech is taking 30 days.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: No, the speech could—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: You have so much to say.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Well, okay then, the—
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): He has the floor. I’m sorry. Order. Order, order. I am keeping my eye on the clock.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: You’re just giving my colleagues more ideas here, Rosie.
Mr. Frank Klees: How incompetent are they over there?
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I don’t think it’s a question of competence. I think it’s a question of them coming back in a responsible manner and saying, “We can get that information you want. We understand why you would want it, and we will be quite happy to provide you with that information. Just give us the proper time to do it. Allow us to do it properly, and then we will quite happily bring forward that information at the time that it’s asked for.”
As I said, I think it’s disgusting that we’re trying to shut down debate on this committee. We’re asking for something—we provided the amendments in advance. We provided the information in advance—
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: If the member over there would just be quiet for a minute. We provided the information in advance, and we provided the rationale for that. If members around the table are in agreement with extending the amount of time that is necessary to do this properly, we’re quite happy to move on to the other amendments. I haven’t heard any member speak as to whether they think it should be 30, 60, 45—
Mr. Frank Klees: Because you haven’t shut up long enough—
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Shut up, Frank. If anybody needs to shut up around here, it’s you.
Mr. Frank Klees: Really?
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Really.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Order. He has the floor. The parliamentary assistant has the floor right now.
Mr. Frank Klees: Are you done?
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: No, I’m not done at all. I’ve still got a lot of time to speak, Frank, and I intend to use every minute. As I’ve heard you say in the House, we’re here, we’re elected, and we’re supposed to speak on behalf of our constituents. We want to see this done properly. If there’s a member across there who agrees with the 60 days, we’d be quite happy to do that. What I haven’t heard is any member across there say, “30, 45, 60.” As far as I know, they’re in agreement with the 30 days.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Okay. What about 35?
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: What’s that, Rosie?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Thirty-five days.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thirty-five days. I mean, it’s not an auction. What we’re asking, I think, is for something quite reasonable. We’re asking for it to take place in 60 days. If we’re given that 60 days—if the ministry is given that 60 days, they can provide the information that we’ve been asked to provide. Quite happy to do that. Quite happy to move on on this issue. Quite happy to move on on this amendment.
Speaker, if I hear from the other side or I’ve got—my colleagues obviously want to speak on this motion as well. Unless they hear from the other side in between that that there’s some agreement that 60 days is more reasonable, we’ll keep making our points.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I’ve had a request from Mr. Bartolucci to speak.
Miss Monique Taylor: We’ve already tried to call the question, though—
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Yes, I’ve spoken with the Clerk. They are allowed to make—
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I’d just ask for order here.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Chair, I find this just a little upsetting. Let’s talk about history for a second because Mr. Marchese said during the presentation with Bonnie Crombie that we have to learn from history. So these three motions were given at the end of the last meeting, just before we were going to walk out, all right? Mr. Marchese, which is his right, wanted the vote last week. For whatever reason, that vote didn’t take place. We had a week to look at the motions. We’ve put some amendments forward. Everything is in order here. We asked for these motions to be debated at the end after the presentation out of courtesy. We agreed as a committee. Nothing untoward here. I think we’ve done this before.
So now we have several amendments, not just this one. We’re going to be dealing with all of these amendments. Then, all of a sudden, we have one member saying “shut up” and that kind of thing, which is not parliamentary and is not characteristic of that member.
Mr. Frank Klees: I apologize. I do apologize.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: Thank you.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I apologize to you too.
Mr. Rick Bartolucci: And now we have reconciliation, which is really good at Christmastime.
Then we have another member saying, “We’ll never do this again. We’ll never do this again.” We’re not doing anything out of the ordinary. What we’re doing is following procedure. We have amendments that we want to discuss. We’re willing to discuss these motions. In fact, the member has already said if we agree to the 60, this debate is over for this amendment—not for the other amendments, because we plan on debating those as well.
I think that what we’re doing is within the parameters of the committee and each member within that committee, and I would suggest that this discussion will go a lot smoother and with proper parliamentary decorum as we move forward, and I think now Ms. Hunter has some comments she wants to make.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I’m following the rules, I’m not doing anything untoward, and the committee Clerk has advised me that if someone wants to speak to it, they’ll have the floor.
I’ll recognize Ms. Hunter, and then, if you want to speak, Miss Taylor, I’ll recognize you as well. These are the rules.
Miss Monique Taylor: But, Chair, I wanted to speak after Kevin.
Interjection: Speak now. Agree with the 60 days, and we all stop speaking.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): She asked. She did ask, but I don’t think—
Miss Monique Taylor: Why is it that we don’t have a chance to speak?
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Miss Taylor, do you want to speak?
Okay, these are the rules. She put her hand up to be recognized. We have Ms. Hunter, and if anyone else wants to speak to it, they’re allowed to speak to it. Those are the rules of the standing orders of the House. Ms. Hunter.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Like my colleagues have said, this is the first substantial document request based on this review that we’re conducting. It is very important that the information coming before this committee is focused so that we can utilize that information in the work of this committee. The ministry needs the time and the opportunity to conduct a proper search. My colleague has already talked about the technology that’s needed to do that. It’s also very important for us to define the definitions in terms of the information that we want to see the ministry explore and to bring before this committee.
So I would agree that extending it—it’s a very reasonable request, given the time of year—to 60 days will allow the ministry to compile that information and to bring it forward to this committee, as well as to seek any inputs and expertise that they would require in order to do that, in order to assemble the proper documents and also be prepared, based on our review, to look at any further information requests.
The fact that this needs to be a very targeted and defined request is important. It’s important because it is going to take an inordinate amount of time from the ministry to do the search. It’s also going to take an inordinate amount of time to assemble those particular documents. I do believe that extending it from the 30 days, as proposed, to the amendment of 60 days is reasonable. It would be a responsible request as well, given the time of year that we’re in and knowing that it is a particular time of year when there are holidays that are coming up, regardless of the types of celebrations, so that we make requests coming out of this committee to be in as reasonable a fashion as possible and to allow the appropriate time to assemble the right information that is required, with the level of detail that is required, and also to ensure that that gets before the committee. The 60 days that has been requested is a reasonable amount of time, and it would also allow us to be responsible and respectful of the time of year.
I also want to reiterate that giving the proper time and definitions is very important as we undertake these substantive document requests so that this information comes back to committee in as useful a format and as searchable a format as possible, so that it can be utilized for its intended purposes. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that having 60 days to put this type of substantive information together is a reasonable approach for us to take, and given, as well, the time of year.
I just wanted to reiterate that, and certainly I wanted to support that and to ensure that when we have requests coming out of this committee, that it is done in a respectful and responsible way, allowing us to receive the appropriate—
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I’m sorry to cut you off, but it is 10:25. The bells are ringing. We’re adjourned until February 18, 2014.
The committee adjourned at 1025.
Tuesday 10 December 2013
Committee business A-185
Subcommittee report A-185
Agency review: Metrolinx A-185
City of Mississauga A-185
Ms. Bonnie Crombie
Ms. Janice Baker
Committee business A-199
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Chair / Président
Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest / Scarborough-Sud-Ouest L)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr. Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury L)
Mrs. Laura Albanese (York South–Weston / York-Sud–Weston L)
Mr. Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury L)
Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest / Scarborough-Sud-Ouest L)
Mr. Percy Hatfield (Windsor–Tecumseh ND)
Ms. Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough–Guildwood L)
Mr. Jim McDonell (Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry PC)
Mr. Randy Pettapiece (Perth–Wellington PC)
Miss Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain ND)
Ms. Lisa Thompson (Huron–Bruce PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn (Oakville L)
Ms. Cindy Forster (Welland ND)
Mr. Douglas C. Holyday (Etobicoke–Lakeshore PC)
Mr. Frank Klees (Newmarket–Aurora PC)
Mr. Rosario Marchese (Trinity–Spadina ND)
Mr. Jeff Yurek (Elgin–Middlesex–London PC)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Sylwia Przezdziecki
Staff / Personnel
Mr. Jeff Parker, research officer,