The two leading contendors for Mayor of our Fair City re-launched their election campaigns last evening.
Both mentioned transit and transportation. Their few sentences are not complete transport policies, the way Doucet’s was on Tuesday, and which this blog whined about yesterday. Today’s whine is shorter, because their transportation agendas are really short.
OBrien takes the credit/blame for the current East-West plan, and since the plan enjoys the support of the majority of council and residents and appeals to the city planning staff, he should be playing it up. Instead, he promised a shift to … road building. Hasn’t this man learned the finances of the City yet: roads foster low density and suburban growth, if not exurban growth, and all those cars come roaring into the city on already full roads, making the city unlivable and setting off a spiral of new road spending everywhere else, which makes more people leave existing neighborhoods, etc etc and the City gets to pay for it all with little or no offsetting revenue. It’s a ring road to financial ruin.
Although … the east end of the ring road is likely to align with the Petrie Island bridge location.
Instead of building on his one good card — the transit plan — he knocked open another issue that will be divisive. The ring road will appeal to suburban residents, and to the extent it registers on urban residents its consequences might not be understood. Much better had he announced a speeding up of the transit plan, so it opens earlier, since one criticism of the plan is that it doesn’t deliver the goods until 2019. Pushing transit would also mean continued infill and intensification, the downside of which he has managed to avoid taking blame for.
Jim Watson promised “after years of dithering and delays, it’s time to move forward with East West Light rail, and as your mayor, I will get the job done, on time and on budget !” This man has chutzpah — after initially launching his campaign in January with a promise to review both the need for a tunnel and indeed the revisit the decision to go with LRT at all … what a change in nine months! Flexibility is good in a Mayor, as long as he isn’t Mr Gumby. Will he have the gumption to stick to the plan and its key elements, such as ending direct express route bus services from the ‘burbs?
After that one promise, his transportation platform lacks any planks, yet. And we need to hear planks, not blanks.
All candidates need to speak out about city-shaping transportation policy, and hot button issues such as interprovincial transit, new bridges, extending the LRT beyond its first phase, cycling, reclaiming urban streets for residents and businesses instead of sacrificing them to commuters at rush hour, etc. Where will employment nodes go, will they be on the transitway or spread out? Who will get the direct connection to the airport, Ottawa or Gatineau or nobody? What’s the linkage between transportation and intensification (or not) and where do they stand. How do you prevent a transit system from becomming hostage to the union?Alas, we don’t know.