Big city mayors push to make permanent transit funding an election issue

With the federal election around the corner, the Big City Mayors' Caucus is calling on the federal parties to commit to a permanent funding mechanism for transit.

Mayors want the current federal plan — and the money that comes with it — to be extended

Riding the TTC without proving you've paid the proper fare can result in a fine worth hundreds of dollars, according to Coun. Paula Fletcher, while a basic parking ticket is only a $30 fine,a difference she says is unfair.
Mayors from across the country say stable and permanent funding from the federal government is key to building effective public transit. (IVY PHOTOS / Shutterstock)

Mayors from Canada's biggest cities have laid out their priorities for the federal parties ahead of next month's election — and stable transit money tops the list. 

The Big City Mayors' Caucus, part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM,) emerged from a meeting on Sunday in Toronto with a call for all federal leaders to commit to permanent funding for transit. 

The mayors say they want a permanent extension to the 10-year federal transit plan rolled out by the Trudeau government, extending its funding allocations beyond the plan's expiration in 2027. 

"We need them to make solid commitments to us for the long term," Toronto Mayor John Tory said. 

Their call echoes a similar one made by the mayors of Metro Vancouver back in April, who also asked for predictable annual funding formula from the federal government. 

The larger FCM, which represents about 2,000 municipalities, will meet this week in Kitchener-Waterloo to discuss transit and other election priorities

Current government is a 'good partner': Tory

In a news release, the mayors' caucus praised the current federal plan, saying it has helped pay for transit in such cities as Quebec City and Edmonton. 

It has also helped pay for projects in Toronto, including a number of repairs and improvements to TTC vehicles and tracks. 

Speaking about the current federal government on Sunday, Tory called them "good partners." 

"[They have] taken some really good solid first steps. But there's more to be done," he said. 

The caucus is also calling for a complimentary fund that helps to increase ridership among such groups as seniors and people with mobility issues, and for extra money to help pay for the cost of making transit systems more environmentally friendly. 

The FCM came out in August with another election request, calling on all federal parties to commit to making housing for low-income Canadians more accessible.