Looking for new ways to help fix Ontario roads

Potholes have the potential to cause serious damage to vehicles. Marlon Gomez. Potholes have the potential to cause serious damage to vehicles. Marlon Gomez.

Marlon Gomez
Biz/Tech Reporter

The Canadian Automobile Association is urging the Canadian government to use revenue from gasoline taxes to fix crumbling roads.

Setting aside a fund like this is much needed in a city like Toronto that has to manage and maintain all city roads, alongside the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner expressway, explained Faye Lyons, government relations from CAA South Central Ontario.

This year’s winter has only made things worse. The number of potholes in the city of Toronto have dramatically increased, said John Mende the Director of Transportation Infrastructure Management for the city of Toronto.

“The number of potholes repaired this year, from Jan 1st to April 1st is 131,000 pot holes. And by comparison the number of potholes repaired during that same period last year is 69,000,” said Mende.

“If you want to look at a perfect example of cracks not being fixed, take a walk along Finch Avenue from 27 over to Martin Grove. Or hop on the Finch bus. Just that little stretch for a couple blocks is enough to knock the fillings out of your teeth,” said Rick Mickula, Humber College Program Liaison Officer for Transportation Training Centre.

According to the city of Toronto’s website, it costs about $25 to repair a single pothole.

The cost of keeping roads and bridges in state of good repair is approximately $215 million, said Mende.

The city uses this money to keep bridges, roads, sidewalks and laneways in good repair. That money, Mende said, often comes from property taxes and some funding from developers.

Mende continued by saying that last year city council pledged additional funding for road repairs over the next 10 years. The additional funds will add to the money that is already collected from property taxes.

“We said our roads are deteriorating, we don’t have enough money to do the necessary repairs. So they gave us over 10 years, an additional $285 million. So it was $15 million in 2013, $30 million in 2014 and $30 million for the next nine years.”

CAA on the other hand is heavily promoting the idea that government should use a portion of the revenue collected from gas and diesel fuel taxes to keep roads, bridges and highways in good repair.

According to CAA the provincial excise tax is 14.7 cents on every litre of gas and diesel fuel sold in Ontario.

In Ontario this tax generated just over $3 billion in 2012-2013, said Lyons.

“What we’re suggesting is that the money that is already being collected from motorists, that is going to the senior levels of government, would be better spent by dedicating that back to our road and transportation infrastructure rather than it going to general revenues,” said Lyons.

Upon finishing the four-week campaign for worst roads, CAA will present the list to provincial and municipal governments in an effort to get those roads fixed.

“We know Dufferin Street between Queen and Dundas is in poor shape, and we’re fixing that this year. So rarely are we surprised by the results of the survey. What it essentially does is confirm the roads on our program,” said Mende.

City staff will review the list to determine whether any road repairs need to be added or accelerated.

Crumbling infrastructure also affects the pockets of motorists who have to drive over potholes on their daily commutes.

CAA estimates potholes can lead to repairs with costs ranging between $64 and $285. Repairs to vehicles range from misalignment, shock or strut, and bent or broken tire rims.

For the past 11 years CAA has been conducting an online vote to find the worst roads across Canada.

Canadians can vote for roads throughout five regions including Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Each list can range from one through 10 with the worst starting at the top.

Last year Ontario’s list had six roads from Toronto out of 10 roads in total. Dufferin Street tied with three other roads in Ontario for the number one spot.

Kipling Avenue and Finch Avenue West tied to take second place for the worst roads in Ontario.

Bayview Avenue, Wilson and Markham roads were voted fourth, seventh, and eighth on the list.

The campaign goes beyond potholes and also wants people’s feedback on traffic congestion, poor timing of traffic signals, confusing road signs and pedestrian/cycling safety.

Voting for worst roads across Canada will end on April 25.