Blog Posts by Cherise Burda
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Ontarians head to the polls on Thursday to elect the next provincial government, at the close of an election campaign where green energy has emerged as a hot-button issue. As the rhetoric has escalated on all sides of the debate, Ontario voters have also had to wade through a great deal of misinformation about their energy options.
As the price of gas continues to fluctuate, drivers are feeling the pinch, and they're looking for someone to blame — be it the HST, the energy companies or political unrest in the Middle East. Many motorists are also calling for the government to step in and provide relief. Meanwhile, the Ontario government claims that if it reduces prices at the pump through tax decreases, energy companies will just jump in and inflate prices to fill the gap.
"Windmills not Oil Spills" — I saw this bumper sticker during the BP disaster. A Google search unearthed some even more provocative bumper stickers: "Plug the Damn Hole!" and "Way to go Gashole."
I'm hoping the vehicle owners that brandish these stickers will also realize the irony of an anti-oil sticker on a gasoline-fuelled bumper, regardless of its tagline. Surely they understand the connection between the Gulf disaster and their own steering wheel?
Last Friday, while many Canadians were gassing up their cars getting ready to hit the road for the long weekend, U.S. president Barack Obama unveiled new regulations to lower drivers' gas bills and cut pollution from American vehicles.
Recently we learned that Canada plans to follow the Obama administration's lead in requiring manufacturers and importers to meet new fuel-efficiency standards to lower greenhouse gas emissions for large trucks and buses.
It’s high time that we stopped thinking of downtown and the suburbs as enemies. In reality, they have more in common than ever before.
The long-term success of Ontario's Green Energy Act may hinge on the decisions about the future of nuclear power in Ontario that are being made as we speak.
I want a medal for dedication. Saturday I gave up skiing in two feet of glorious sun-drenched snow to crowd inside Metro Hall for a public roundtable hosted by Metrolinx to debate how best to raise public dollars to fund transit expansion — one of a series of consultations currently taking place across the Toronto and Hamilton region.
When I was growing up at Highway 7 and Bayview Avenue in Markham, the bus showed up when it felt like it. An hour could pass while you waited at the stop.
This Sunday, I ventured back to my homeland and did something I never would have considered as a teenager: I chose to ride the bus along Highway 7. But this was no ordinary bus: it was an example of bus rapid transit, an outstanding transit option for low-density neighbourhoods.
Road pricing in Toronto could be right on the money, says Cherise Burda in response to a recent article in the Toronto Star citing public displeasure with the idea. It just needs some thoughtful politicians to make tough but informed decisions that provide commuters with choices.
Last week, the premier’s advisory panel on transit investment proposed a strategy to raise funds for transit expansion while minimizing the burden on taxpayers. The panel’s strategy includes a gas tax, which became a lightning rod in the subsequent discussion. However, the cost of inaction far exceeds to costs of a gas tax, which would pay for a regional rapid transit network and alleviate congestion.
This week Toronto City Council meets to decide on whether or not to accept the recommendations from the Expert Advisory Panel regarding transit on Sheppard Avenue East. The panel, which released its report on Friday, concluded that light rail transit (LRT) was the better option for Sheppard Avenue, not just because it is most cost effective, but for a variety of other benefits.
We probably couldn't have planned a better release date for Driving Down Carbon, a report we published today looking at the impacts of how Ontarians get around. It coincides with recent findings that show gridlock in Toronto is among the worst for big cities. And it's necessary to give context to recent transit cuts, new vehicle emissions standards and climate commitments.
Light rail transit suitable for high-tech hub LRT as much a symbol of the future as a cost-effective and practical way to get aroundOp-Ed
Canada's technology triangle of Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge is a good fit for the high-tech rail aesthetic and speed of an LRT system.
The Ontario Power Authority admits that nuclear has exceeded the threshold where it is no longer a cost-effective energy option. To build a sustainable energy economy and guarantee the phase-out of coal in 2014, we need cost-effective and flexible energy options that can be deployed quickly, not new nuclear plants that take at least a decade to build. Replacing the aging Pickering B nuclear station with green energy is the best opportunity to open up much needed grid space, and it would provide the Green Energy Act with the time, space and investment focus it needs to produce results.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford claims on his Facebook page that the Pembina Institute’s 2011 analysis of Toronto transit options support his case for a Sheppard Subway. Although we are pleased to see that the Mayor appreciates our work, some of his points require clarification.
The first paper released by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel unpacked some hard truths about transit. Those truths include how the cost of transit encompasses much more than just the cost of building it, and how building transit to an area doesn’t mean that development will come.
If the government is honestly asking taxpayers to contribute to the next wave of Big Move projects, it must be smart and responsible with everyone’s money. The panel needs to ensure that investments in transit provide maximum benefits and deliver tangible results, both in the short and long terms.
Lately it's been pretty quiet here in "Transit Nation." This may be the calm before the storm; surely any day now we will learn the fate of Mayor Ford's newest transit proposal. In advance of any final decision, Pembina has completed an analysis of the new plan, comparing how it stacks up against phase one of Transit City.
Today, the premier’s Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel proposed a transit funding strategy that represents a consensus on how to raise new dollars. It passed the tests set by thirteen panel members representing diverse interests — including labour, business, developers and drivers — and is a well-thought-out proposal that deserves serious consideration from the broader public.
It may seem like stating the obvious — commuters who take the train (whether subway, Go transit or proposed light-rail) to and from work produce less air pollution than those who drive. The same goes for shipping. Moving freight out of trucks and onto trains and providing commuters with rapid, affordable transit options in and around Toronto will reduce smog, clear up traffic congestion, fight climate change, improve people's health and save Ontario taxpayers billions of dollars every year.
Unfortunately, the benefits of replacing road transportation with rapid transit have often been obscured in the highly charged debate over transportation planning in the Toronto region. Those benefits are the focus of a new report released today by the Pembina Institute and Sustainable Prosperity.
Ontario Budget: Let’s not let auto insurance concessions “collide” with our goals to reduce gridlock
For the Wynne government to pass its first budget, it may have to consider some policies demanded by the NDP, including rolling back auto insurance premiums by 15 per cent. While insurance rates are higher in Ontario than in some other provinces, there are better policy solutions to offer drivers a break without undermining other key government priorities — namely reducing congestion in the GTA.
Ontario’s Green Energy Act could unlock the province’s green energy potential and establish a path for developing a system that is more decentralized, efficient, cleaner and smarter; but this requires a concrete plan with aggressive targets and the right incentives, and the political will to break with old patterns.
Last week we learned that Ontario set up a Climate Change Secretariat to coordinate and implement Ontario's climate plan. The secretariat is a good move, but it needs to have the authority to ensure all ministries are accountable and the muscle to wrestle with Ontario's strongest lobbies.
The provincial budget saw the introduction of Ontario’s first (and modest) revenue tool to fund transit: high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. With the provincial budget hot off the press, now is a good time to examine how HOT lanes work and what impact they have on congestion, as well as commuters.
For the past week or so, Ontarians have been grappling with high gas prices resulting from the uprisings in the Middle East. Some oil analysts warn that this has long-term oil price implications, putting our economic recovery at risk.
The Globe and Mail reported this week that rising oil prices are "creating new urgency for Ontario to reinvent itself" via a clean energy economy — citing the Government of Ontario's estimate that its Green Energy Act will create roughly 50,000 jobs to illustrate how investing in green energy can help fill the employment void created by the recent recession and the manufacturing industry's decline.
It's now officially a smog summer in Toronto. Riding my bike to work this week, I can feel it searing my lungs. But I'm not the only one suffering - behind their rolled-up windows, solitary drivers look frustrated, stalled in construction and bumper-to-bumper congestion.
It's an appropriate time for the Toronto City Summit Alliance to release its brave and ambitious report aimed at reducing traffic congestion and funding transit in the GTA (greater Toronto area).
Q&A: How the Board of Trade’s transit funding proposal would drive the Toronto region in the right direction
Earlier today, the Toronto Region Board of Trade released its bold proposal to address gridlock and expand transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). The benefit of the four tools proposed by the Board is that they can be spread among the tax base, be kept relatively low for each tool, such as for a regional sales tax and fuel tax, and not hit one sector or user group hard.
Toronto City Council is debating the revenue tools for transit recommended in the city manager’s report, based on opinion polls and public consultations with Torontonians. This blog answers some key questions regarding the report’s top four choices: a sales tax, a fuel tax, a parking levy and development charges.
For a region that’s trapped in gridlock or crammed into subways and streetcars, new taxes for tomorrow’s transit are a tough sell. However, the province, municipalities and transit authorities can take some immediate steps to sweeten the deal. This blog outlines seven actions that can help build public support around the need to fund transit expansion, while also offering benefits to the tax-paying commuter in the meanwhile.
Snubbing the pump: How Canadian drivers can save money on fuel and reduce their environmental impact
Just minutes into the second U.S. presidential debate, the focus turned to gas prices and the role the government should or could play in keeping the price of fuel low. President Obama promised he would increase all forms of American energy production to “make sure that you’re not paying as much for gas.”
Congratulations to Metrolinx, Toronto’s regional transportation agency, for delivering the final kick in the pants to get Toronto moving with light rail transit (LRT). Earlier this week, the Metrolinx board approved its plan for the construction of four LRT lines voted on by Toronto council this year.
While these new LRT lines will provide relief to priority neighbourhoods in the Toronto area, transit enthusiasts in Ontario know that these four lines are part of a larger regional plan — The Big Move — that promises to deliver a rapid transit network for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
Do you know your Walk Score? No, it's not a fitness test. Walk Score measures the "walkability" of your neighbourhood. Canada's biggest cities may be getting more walkable at heart but their outer regions are not.
On June 18, the Ontario government announced long-awaited targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The big question that remains is how the government actually plans to meet these targets.
I'm a big fan of Toronto's subway. It's affordable and usually fast, frequent and reliable — adjectives that few drivers in Toronto would use to describe their commute. So you would think I'd be thrilled with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's proposal to extend the subway line.
But I'm not, and I find it odd that a mayor who campaigned on "stopping the gravy train" at City Hall is proposing the most expensive of all transit options.
The social, economic and environmental malady of gridlock in greater Toronto can be cured. This week, the Toronto Region Board of Trade prescribed a treatment to raise the $2 billion a year needed to fund the Big Move regional transportation plan: a combination of small regional sales and gasoline taxes, a commercial parking levy, and paid express lanes.
Today Premier Wynne’s Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel released its first issue paper entitled: The Hard Truths about Transit in the Toronto Region
I am honoured to be a member of the panel, which was established with a mandate to advise the Province whether the Metrolinx’s Investment Strategy recommendations are the right ones. The first four weeks we spent grappling with this central question: Despite consensus on the seriousness of the transportation and congestion problem in Toronto, why can’t we agree on how to solve it?
Here at the Pembina Institute, we have been preparing for the unveiling of a new hybrid transit plan for Toronto — a compromise between Mayor Ford's subway extension and the light rail plan that was underway before Ford became mayor. We consider what such a compromise might look like, what it should look like, and what's best for Toronto.
Our dirty coal-fired power plants were back in the news with electoral candidates arguing the ifs and whens of their necessary shut down. Shutting down coal plants seems like a no-brainer, but heels keep dragging.
In the debate over which combination of revenue tools would best support the expansion of transit in the Toronto region, an unexpected option has emerged as a top pick. Travis Allan and Cherise Burda take a closer look at the development charge and its potential to fund transit and improve urban planning at the same time.
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