TORONTO — The David Suzuki Foundation applauds the Ontario government's plan to spend $56 billion on public transit infrastructure over the next 10 years, as announced today in the Ontario budget. The amount is more than twice what the province will spend on highways.
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"This prioritization of transit over road-building is welcome because transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gases in the province," said Foundation policy analyst Gideon Forman. "Helping Ontarians leave the car at home and take light rail or a bike is crucial."
The province is also earmarking about $90 million this year to promote electric vehicle use. That money will come from the sale of allowances through Ontario's cap and trade program.
"We recognize not everyone can take transit, walk or cycle. Some folks will need a car," Forman said. "But if we're going to tackle climate change, we have to ensure that car is electric."
Other 2017-18 projects funded through cap and trade revenue will include:
• $200 million to help schools enhance energy efficiency and set up renewable energy systems such as solar panels or geothermal heat pumps
• $85 million to retrofit social housing
• $50 million to improve commuter cycling infrastructure, including cycling lanes and signals
"These investments are exciting because they have a whole range of co-benefits," Forman said. "When you build bike lanes, for example, you improve air quality and also increase people's fitness. When you install solar arrays on schools, you produce both electricity and opportunities for educating students about power generation."
When the government passed cap and trade legislation in 2016, it suggested annual revenue from the system would be about $1.9 billion. Today's budget takes a more cautious approach, suggesting it may only generate $1.4 billion a year.
"This approach calls into question whether the government will be able to bring in a full range of climate change-reduction activities like transit and renewable energy," Forman said.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Gideon Forman, Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst