Winter, summer, spring and fall, one of the most common topics for calls and letters my office receives is in regard to transportation concerns. This isn’t surprising given that so many of us have to travel often for business, recreation, medical and other reasons. People contact me to express concerns about winter maintenance, road maintenance, structural safety and the lack of viable transportation options. I frequently hear from people who are frustrated with the limited access and options available for travellers who do not have their own vehicle to travel between communities and other larger centres.
The Liberal government has recently announced they are seeking input from citizens on such concerns. The government says it is considering adding a bus passenger service to link communities. To begin they are holding public meetings all over Ontario this summer to hear from those who have concerns specifically about intercity transportation issues.
I know I speak for many when I say that, once again, the needs of Northerners are out of sight and out of mind. For example, ask Premier Wynne how cutting the Ontario Northland Passenger Train (ONTC) service back in 2012 helped to address traveling concerns for Northerners. In 2015 the Liberals made cuts to the Ontario Northlander bus service. And how does subsidizing the UP Express, Go Transit and subway transit systems in the GTA with multimillion dollar subsidies help to address the transportation needs of Northerners?
I encourage anyone who has experiences, thoughts and concerns on public transportation in the north to attend one of the Intercommunity Bus Modernization sessions below. It is essential that the government hears our voices loud and clear.
- Sudbury: July 28th, 2016 9:00am, United Steelworker’s Hall & Conference Centre,
- Sault Ste. Marie: August 3rd, 2016 9:00am, John Rhodes Community Centre,
- Timmins: August 4th, 2016 9:00am, Ramada Timmins,
You are encouraged to get involved in the conversation by:
- Register on line to attend an in-person at https://goo.gl/LBMbv8
- Reading the discussion paper and providing feedback on the Environmental Registry by Aug. 22, 2016 available at http://goo.gl/QhD0XI
- Submitting ideas on [email protected], #OnIntercommunityBus
- Emailing the ministry at [email protected]
- Writing to the ministry at 777 Bay Street, Suite 3000, Toronto, Ontario M7A 2J8.
In addition to the above sessions, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) are conducting a study called the Northern Ontario Multimodal Transportation Study in an effort to develop effective transportation plans for the future. It will adopt an integrated multimodal approach that considers highway, marine, air, rail, and other modes of transportation. As a result of the 2 ministries will use the data to develop a transportation strategy which will include recommended improvements for the movement of people and goods over the next 25 years.
Recently I contacted each municipality and First Nation in Algoma-Manitoulin to advise them that their input is essential if Northerners want to be heard and have a say in our destiny. The general public will also have opportunity to provide input. Two rounds of Public Information Centres (PICs) will be held in six locations throughout the study area, in approximately fall 2016, and spring 2017. These will be open to anyone and advertised in advance. More information will be coming in the following months. For further information on the Northern Ontario Multimodal Transportation Study, visit their website at https://nomts.ca/. Or contact the by phone at 1 844 505 5006 or email [email protected]. Let’s hope that this exercise is one of sincerity with meaningful engagement that will ultimately reflect the true needs of Northerners in a practical and realistic way.
As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710/1-800-831-1899.