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Torontonian’s want cooperation between provincial and city government to solve transit issues

The longstanding issues of how to build transit in Toronto at a much faster pace, has led the provincial government to propose an upload of the TTC subway. To better understand what the public want and where they stand on this debate, Campaign Research has conducted a study among 928 residents of Toronto, that probed respondents’ views on the issues surrounding the proposed TTC subway upload. Additionally, respondents were asked about their transit priorities and how they felt about land development linked to large transit develop.

Before being asked about the transit upload, respondents were given seven proposed transit projects and asked which ones they considered to be the highest priority. As with all previous studies conducted by Campaign Research, the downtown subway relief line was the dominant transit project with 38% listing it as their number one choice and another 17% listing it as their second choice. The Waterfront LRT was seen as the least crucial transit project, with only 10% choosing it as the first or second most important. Next, respondents were asked about how familiar they were with the transit upload, with 66% stating they were familiar with the issue, compared to 34% who were not.

Prior to being given more information about the proposed upload, reactions to the idea of the TTC subway uploading were mixed, with 43% supporting the upload and 39% opposing it, with the remaining 18% unsure. There was a generational gap on the issue, with millennial males expressing the strongest support (64%) and the strongest opposition coming from baby boomer males (46%) and females (50%). There was also a large split along partisan lines with both federal (60%) and provincial (64%) Conservative voters expressing support for the upload, as well as those who voted both for the PC Party and John Tory in their respective elections last year (70%). In contrast, both federal (51%) and provincial (49%) Liberal voters opposed the upload.

Respondents were presented with the main arguments made by both supporters and opponents of the proposed transit upload and asked to agree or disagree with each argument. Respondents tended to agree with the arguments presented by both the supporters and opponents of the proposed upload.

There was strong overall agreement (64%), that the current City or Toronto’s transit development process was too slow, that there are too many levels of approval and that new transit hardly ever gets built. Very few respondents opposed this view (18%), with the same number being unsure (18%). The view that transit taking was too long to be approved of and built, was shared by every demographic group and by supporters of every political party.

There were also deep concerns regarding the role of Premier Doug Ford in the proposed transit upload with two-thirds of respondents (65%) agreeing that Premier was likely to base transit investments on political concerns, rather than what would bring the best value to the citizens of Toronto. This view was especially prevalent among baby boomer females (72%) and residents of Toronto East York (71%)

The issue that received the strongest agreement though, was allowing more property development to take place near potential transit stations and using the funds raised from the development to help fund the stations and corresponding transit (69%). Following this up, a similar proportion agreed with the idea of using property taxes collected from the developments to fund transit projects (66%) and a large number also supporting levying a special charge on developers that would be earmarked for transit projects (63%).

Following up on this, respondents were asked if they would support taller buildings and higher population density, if it meant more transit would be built in their neighborhood. A clear plurality supported this concept, with 39% of respondents willing to accept taller buildings and higher population density if it meant transit would be built in their neighborhood. A further 16% stated that they were willing to accept greater population density and taller buildings elsewhere in Toronto, so long as it wasn’t built in their neighborhood. This means that a majority (55%) was willing to accept this tradeoff, with a third being opposed (31%).

Towards the end of the study, respondents were given a description of the Eglinton LRT project as an example of collaboration between the provincial and municipal government on a major transit project. Respondents were then asked how much more likely they were to support the proposed upload, given the Eglinton CrossTown LRT example. Half of the respondents (50%) stated that they were more likely to support the proposal, whereas only a quarter said that it increased their opposition (26%) to the proposed subway upload, with the remainder being unsure (24%). This explanation was well received by both provincial (72%) and federal (71%) Conservatives. The explanation was also convincing to both provincial (49%) and federal (49%) Liberal party voters.

Toward the end of this, Campaign Research wanted to gain a better understanding of what Torontonians now felt about the overall debate and asked the following question:

“After considering all the questions in this survey how do you feel about transit, transportation, traffic and congestion in Toronto?”

  • 15% chose - It doesn’t matter who owns the transit, who builds new transit or who operates the transit lines because transportation and traffic congestion will not improve in Toronto

  • 21% chose - Things can improve but only if the City of Toronto owns, builds, operates and decides how to expand the transit network without interference from the Province

  • 12% chose - Things can improve but only if the Province of Ontario, builds, finances and decides how to expand the transit network, while leaving the TTC to operate it without any other interference from the City of Toronto

  • 39% chose - Things can improve if the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario can both work together like they did on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project where the Province is responsible for building and owning the line and the City (TTC) operates it

  • 14% chose - Don’t know/ Unsure”

A strong plurality (39%) supported a plan where the city and province work together as they did on the Eglington LRT project. A small number thought that either the city (20%) or the province (12%) should be solely responsible for transit, with the remainder being unsure or believing it doesn’t matter (29%). This means that a small majority of 51% support the province increasing their involvement, while only a small minority (20%), oppose any provincial involvement.

“Torontonian’s want more transit built much faster and they are very clear that the downtown relief line is the number one transit project priority. At the outset, respondents were evenly divided about the proposed upload as they understood it. However, once all the arguments from both sides were presented and the Eglinton Crosstown LRT was explained, opinions shifted in favor of cooperation between the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario. That combined with just over half supporting an increased mandate for the province in the building of new subway projects, means that the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto could make a deal that would be acceptable to the majority of the public.” said Eli Yufest, CEO of Campaign Research Inc


This online study was conducted by Campaign Research between February 27 to March 1 through an online survey of 928 randomly selected Toronto residents, who are members of an online panel and were provided with various incentives to respond. The panelists were selected to reflect Toronto’s age, gender and regional distribution in line with 2016 Statistics Canada census data. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size would have an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 3.2%, 19 times out of 20.

The results have been weighted by education, age, gender, and region to match Toronto’s population according to 2016 Census data. Certain areas or groups may be oversampled but have been weighted to reflect their proportion of Toronto’s population. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Toronto. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

The following screening question was asked in order to determine eligibility for participation in the study

"Are you 18 years of age or older and eligible to vote in federal elections?"

Press Release


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