Residents will use election campaigns to lobby for subway to Richmond Hill
With provincial and municipal elections looming this year, seven ratepayers’ groups are joining forces to lobby politicians to solve two long-standing transit challenges plaguing York Region.
Calling themselves the South Central York Region — Congestion Relief Committee (SCYR-CRC), the groups are pushing to extend the Yonge Street subway from Finch subway to Hwy. 7 and to reduce or eliminate the two fares transit users must pay when transferring from York’s YRT/Viva to Toronto’s TTC.
The committee is holding a town-hall meeting at the Thornhill Community Centre on May 2 at 7:30 p.m., during which the results of two surveys asking more than 1,000 residents about the issues will be unveiled.
The committee is made up of the Aileen-Willowbrook Ratepayers Association, the Beverly Glen Ratepayers Association, the Brownridge Ratepayers Association, the Grandview Area Residents Association, Preserve Thornhill Woods Association, the SpringFarm Ratepayers Association and the Unionville Residents Association.
The committee will put pressure on politicians leading up to the June 7 provincial vote and the Oct. 22 municipal election.
“Of course, why wouldn’t we?” Ricardo Mashregi, chair of the Grandview Area Residents Association (GARA) in Thornhill, said.
Extending the Yonge subway to Hwy. 7 is the region’s top transit priority, he pointed out.
“We want the subway and we want it now. We have been waiting decades for it,” he said.
“The population is growing leaps and bounds here. You’ve got a provincial government that has earmarked our area for intensification and places to grow and we need public transit.”
Thousands of new condo units are being built along Yonge, creating an ever-increasing demand for the subway extension, Mashregi said.
At Yonge and Hwy. 7 alone, there are 23,000 proposed condos for 48,000 new residents and 31,000 jobs slated for the area, he said.
While the provincial government has invested $55 million for preliminary engineering and design work for the subway, it needs to commit funding to actually building the extension when that work is finished, Mashregi said.
Meanwhile, daily York transit users transferring to the TTC spend about $1,700 a year on the two fares, Fred Winegust, co-president of the Spring Farm Ratepayers Association in Thornhill, said.
As a result, many York to Toronto commuters avoid taking Viva/YRT, choosing instead to have someone drop them off at a TTC stop or parking in the city, in the process cutting through York Region neighbourhoods to get to their destinations, he said.
That goes against efforts to get people out of their cars and onto public transit, Winegust said.
“This two-fare wall has been in place at Steeles for 45 years,” he said.
“We are really arguing for fare fairness. We think part of getting people out of their cars where it makes sense and if it can take them where they need to go and onto public transit would be either the reduction or the elimination of the two-fare wall.”
Many jurisdictions have similar agreements, such as York with Peel and Durham regions and GO Transit, but the wall between York and Toronto needs to be torn down, he said.
YorkRegion.com | Article: Lisa Queen | Photo: Susie Kockerscheidt/Metroland