April 1, 2009

Tougher Emission standards and $9 billion for transit

CARS/ENVIRONMENT - In Canada the federal government is moving ahead with "tough" new emission standards for cars and light trucks meant to cut their output of greenhouse gas emissions. Its the first time since Brian Mulroney in the 1980s that a Conservative Party has pushed for tougher emission standards.

In a speech today, Environment Minister Jim Prentice conceded that the new regulations come at a difficult time for struggling automakers but warned the industry can't wait for good times to go green.

Plus, these new standards will allow Canadian automakers to compete in Asia and Europe, where many Canadian and American-built cars can't even be sold there because they don't meet the emission standards.

"The rest of the world won't wait. Someone else will move ahead to build the greener car," Prentice said in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada, saying that Canada needs to be at the forefront of environmental standards if they want to sell their products overseas.

The new standard will bring Canada in line with goals set by the new United States administration for an average of 30.2 miles per gallon for 2011 models, allowing Canadian cars to be sold in the USA, but it will still be far below the standards required to sell cars in China or Japan or some European countries.

The mandatory regulations, to take effect before the 2011 model year, are part of Ottawa's strategy to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by 2020, said Jim Prentice.

$9 Billion for Transit

More money for TTC, subway and street cars

In Ontario, four new public transit projects for the Greater Toronto Area, including a rapid transit line on Eglinton Avenue to Pearson Airport, are getting the green light from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty today.

It will be next year at the earliest before construction can begin, with the exception of the York Viva bus rapid transit line, which will get $1.4 billion in new construction starting in Autumn. A first segment will be built along Highway 7 from Markham Centre to Richmond Hill Centre with completion scheduled for 2011.

Other segments of the line should be finished two years later, and will alleviate the crowded streets of the Greater Toronto Area.

Jobs are also an issue during the current recession. "Our investments in transit will create jobs, help stimulate the economy and improve the air we breathe," said Premier McGuinty.

In Scarborough, rehabilitation work and extending the rapid transit rail line to Malvern Town Centre or Markham Road is slated to be completed and in service for commuters by 2015. Construction is expected to begin in 2010 at a cost of $1.4 billion.

The 30-kilometre rapid transit line on Eglinton could be up and running by 2016. The estimated cost of the project, which includes a 10-kilometre tunnel from Keele to Leslie streets, is $4.6 billion.

Further north, the Finch light rapid transit line from Humber College on Hwy 427 to Don Mills subway station in the east will be finished by 2013 at a cost of $1.2 billion.

Today's announcement also includes financial support for a $3 million study of potential rapid transit lines through Hamilton – an east-west line on the King and Main street corridor and a north-south line along James and Upper James. The study will be completed by Spring 2010.

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