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London Transit service hours growth is still not in the budget!

February 14, 2024

The following is from the Council of Canadians London Chapter:

Last week we wrote to you about “Public Transit Service Hours Growth is not in the mayor’s budget”.  It still isn’t in the budget!  Please write to the mayor and councillors before this Thursday’s budget meeting to make it happen.

At last Thursday’s budget meeting Councillor Ferreira moved an amendment to add 18,000 service hours to the LTC budget each year for four years – less than what the LTC is asking for, but a good start.  The motion was defeated 8-7.

Mayor Morgan and these councillors voted against funding for improved transit service: Deputy Mayor Lewis, Budget Committee Chair Elizabeth Peloza, and Councillors Rahman, Cuddy, Van Meerbergen, Hillier, and Lehman.

Councillor Skylar Franke spoke in favour.  You can see her speech here:  https://fb.watch/qaowCwC3Pn/

Some of what Councillor Franke said:

The LTC has been underfunded by the city for decades and it requires a significant increase in order to address the chronic underfunding.

When the LTC compares with other similar cities of similar size, the LTC gets the lowest municipal subsidy.  Right now around 45% of their operating budget comes from the municipality.  Other cities’ transit systems get between 50% to 70% of their operating budget from municipalities.

The number one source of emissions in London was from cars.  In order to give people another option we have to improve our transit.

I think that we have a duty to be able to provide better service to them, so they can get to work and school and get around the city.

Last Wednesday Climate Action London held a community press conference for public transit that was covered by CTV, CBC and London Free Press.  You can see videos of the press conference here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJiqOB72Rzw0WXtK2r1DtbB5okPGK0CXe
 
London Chapter’s Norah Fraser said,

My name is Norah Fraser and I am a co-chair of Council of Canadians London Chapter.  I’m also a senior on a low income who pays property taxes.  My taxes are the average for London.  I mention this because some city councillors keep bringing up their concern for seniors on low incomes who they say may become homeless if their taxes go up too much.

There is help in the budget for people who need help.  There is an emergency fund to help people pay utility bills if they need it.  That fund needs to be topped up and I hope that Council supports that business case.  

Another item that can help is the low interest loans to pay for energy upgrades like heat pumps that would save money and save lives during a heat wave or a cold snap.

The thing is, taxes pay for services.  I don’t want a tax break.  I want services like transit and libraries and all the things that property taxes pay for.  These councillors want to save me $50 or $100 a year in taxes but transit fares just went up by 18%.  

Recently the Council of Canadians London Chapter hosted a Zoom meeting about the budget.  We learned that London’s property taxes are the third lowest in Ontario.  If our taxes went up by 35% they would still be below average for Ontario.  Our taxes have been low for a long time.  The city’s subsidy for public transit is the lowest in Ontario.  Same for the library system.  Our infrastructure health is worse than the national average.

I don’t mind paying property taxes.  Taxes are how we care for each other.  Some councillors seem to think that their main job is to keep taxes low.  That’s wrong.  The job of the Mayor and Council is to make the city work for all of us.  Public transit is a big part of that.

Please write to the mayor and councillors urging them to provide funding for Public Transit Service Hours Growth in the multi-year budget.

mayor@london.ca, hmcalister@london.ca, slewis@london.ca, pcuddy@london.ca, sstevenson@london.ca, jpribil@london.ca, strosow@london.ca, corahman@london.ca, slehman@london.ca, ahopkins@london.ca, pvanmeerbergen@london.ca, sfranke@london.ca, epeloza@london.ca, dferreira@london.ca, shillier@london.ca

London Chapter 
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