Smart Growth Forum

Road Pricing & Smart Growth Forum

Thanks to the almost 100 delegates who attended the Transport Futures Smart Growth Forum, our fourth road pricing event since 2008. While many of us understood that transportation planning and land use planning are two sides of the same coin, we came to learn what road pricing can do for smart growth – far beyond what it can do for modal shift, congestion reduction, pollution and infrastructure funding.

Given the importance of Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Greenbelt Act and Metrolinx’s “Big Move”, our international, national and local experts examined whether a comprehensive road pricing policy could help the province meet intensification targets, accelerate transit-oriented development, convert brownfields and protect green space (see presentations). Despite these being big issues rarely considered in Canada, panel discussants and small groups took a valiant stab at discussing the "myriad benefits and disbenefits" of road pricing. Although HOT lanes and gas taxes were seen as the easiest solution to implement, it was agreed by the majority that a priced road network was the best way to achieve smart growth objectives – especially if a communications strategy was "carefully designed and sensitively marketed" to deal with Ontario lifestyles and personal choices.

Several news articles were written about the Smart Growth Forum's content but most important was the feedback from our delegates, 88% of whom said the conference met their expectations. Here are a few testimonials we received:

  • “The conference was extremely informative and well-organized.”
  • “Very well done – great speaker choices; very balanced treatment of topic.”
  • "It wasn't a prayer meeting. Real issues were hashed out."
  • "You brought people together from so many different professional backgrounds – transportation engineers, modellers, land use planners, economists and environmentalists. This made for many different discussions and new ideas. Brilliant!"
  • “If you were not airing these important issues, I'm not convinced anyone else would.”