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e-3951 (Transportation)

E-petition
Initiated by Rosemary Waterston from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities

Whereas:
  • The federal government has agreed, given specified conditions, to contribute 40% to the cost the Ontario Line, a proposed 15.6 km subway line in Toronto;
  • The Ontario Line has been planned behind closed doors by Metrolinx, in conflict with City of Toronto approved plans developed through open consultation processes;
  • Ontario has enacted Bill 171, allowing Metrolinx to bypass a substantive environmental review process;
  • Ontario has ignored resolutions passed by Toronto City Council calling on Metrolinx to study alternative routes which minimize impact on residential communities and carry out a cost-benefit analysis for those alternatives;
  • Ontario has failed to conduct inclusive consultations on planning, detailed designs, impacts or mitigation measures associated with the Ontario Line and has ignored community input; and
  • Ontario has failed to commit to a program for affordable housing in ‘transit-oriented development’ plans and also failed to specify the required program to hire from historically disadvantaged groups.
We, the undersigned, residents of Toronto who know it is possible to build transit better, call upon the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities to:
1. Report to the public on its review of the Ontario government’s level of compliance with the federal government’s funding conditions;
2. Report to the public on the steps it intends to take to monitor and enforce compliance with the federal funding conditions; and
3. Release federal funds for the Ontario Line projects only when the ministers can confirm to the public that Ontario is in full compliance with the federal funding conditions.

Response by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Jennifer O'Connell

The Government of Canada is making unprecedented investments in areas such as public transit, resilient and low carbon infrastructure, water and wastewater, and green and inclusive community buildings, all of which contribute to economic growth, social inclusion and a healthy environment.

The Government of Canada understands that investments in public transit must have multiple benefits including creating good jobs, building more equitable and inclusive communities, improving the quality of life for all, and tackling climate change. That is why Canada’s funding of the Ontario Line project includes requirements to support environmental, social inclusion, and equitable employment and community benefits outcomes. 

As announced in May 2021, Canada’s historic investment in public transit in the Greater Toronto Area, including the Ontario Line, is dependent on the satisfaction of conditions related to the following:

  • Undergoing a substantive environmental review and approval process including an analysis of impacts on the environment (e.g., environmentally sensitive areas, species and habitat, etc.) and a description of mitigation measures;
  • Undergoing a federal climate lens including assessment of greenhouse gas emissions and how the proponent will drive down emissions (e.g. low carbon construction material, use of best construction practices, reducing emissions from operations, etc.) and be resilient to the impacts of climate change;
  • Conditions to building affordable housing near transit oriented development as is feasible, in line with City of Toronto objectives, and report publicly on them;
  • Incorporate barrier-free design elements for persons with disabilities;
  • Engagement processes that enable early community involvement inclusive of local communities and diverse voices and stakeholders, and opportunities to access decision-makers and influence decisions;
  • Inclusive community consultation processes that address neighbourhood and community improvements;
  • Measures to maximize high quality jobs and benefits for communities including through mechanisms such as Community Benefit Agreements with hiring targets of at least 10% for historically disadvantaged communities, equity-seeking groups, Black, Indigenous and people of colour, with possible higher targets based on an assessment of local representation;
  • Ensuring contractors have in place an anti-racism strategy;
  • Mitigating the negative impacts of project construction and operations and report on these measures (e.g. noise mitigation for communities).

 

Compliance with federal funding conditions will be monitored via a contribution agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario, which will lay out the legally binding requirements attached to Canada’s funding for the project. The contribution agreement will include requirements for ongoing reporting by Ontario, to Canada, on project progress and on how they are meeting funding commitments. As the project owner and decision-maker, it is up to Ontario to meet the required conditions for Canada’s funding. In addition to completing due diligence reviews of the contents of Ontario’s reporting on the Ontario Line, Canada will also require regular oversight committee meetings between the two levels of government to monitor and enforce compliance with the federal contribution agreement and its conditions.

As is standard practice for large infrastructure projects such as the Ontario Line, the release of federal funds to the Government of Ontario will only occur once the project’s contribution agreement is signed, inclusive of commitments by Ontario to federal funding conditions, and reporting has started, to Canada’s satisfaction. Until such time as the contribution agreement is executed, Government of Canada officials will continue to be in regular contact with the Government of Ontario to discuss Ontario’s early progress on its commitments. In addition, Government of Canada officials will continue to monitor public statements and outreach events related to the Ontario Line to assess alignment with Canada’s conditions for funding.

The Government of Canada will continue to work to ensure that infrastructure plays a vital role in promoting economic growth, job creation and improving our quality of life in the coming months and years.

Open for signature
April 7, 2022, at 3:51 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
May 7, 2022, at 3:51 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Julie Dabrusin (Toronto—Danforth)
May 17, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00484)
Government response tabled
June 21, 2022
Photo - Julie Dabrusin
Toronto—Danforth
Liberal Caucus
Ontario
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