Monday, November 24, 2008

A little bit of too much hope

Local transit and US politics take you for a ride.

I didn't realize it until the results were in, but I had a lot of emotional investment in the US presidential election. In 2004, I had assumed that George W. Bush couldn't possibly be re-elected, but the US electorate proved that, yes, they could be hoodwinked by deceptive campaigns and electoral tricks. My heart sunk below my feet after that election.

And despite repeatedly telling myself that I wasn't going to care who won the election in 2008, my spirits were greatly lifted when Barack Obama was elected and the eight-year curse was over. Despite the hackneyed slogan, it really was a sign of hope; that my jaded view of the world is a stereotype that doesn't necessarily reflect reality. The warm, sunny day following the election helped too!


This same hope had a resurgence at the local level when Ottawa Councillors Christine Leadman and Clive Doucet held a press conference called Light Rail Now to present their alternative to the City's monolithic and immovable plan. Here, the hope was that City Council might actually make a Transit decision that comes from their own ranks.

Two days later, that hope died. A joint meeting of Transportation and Transit Committees voted to not even consider the Leadman-Doucet proposal. To me, it was Bush '04 all over again, and I've been depressed since.

The Committees' recommendation isn't final until approved by Council, so there is still a chance. Finally, this morning, I managed to find a way of expressing my concerns, and fired off this letter to Council:

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

I was disheartened to learn that Transportation and Transit Committee would not even consider the Carling LRT corridor. The Parkway corridor has many problems which the Carling LRT corridor address (see http://www.transitottawa.ca/2008/09/light-rail-on-parkway-issues.html - note: not affiliated to me).

While on the surface Carling is not perfect, neither is the Parkway. This is why both need to be thoroughly considered and compared as potential rapid transit corridors.

Mayor O'Brien and Transit Committee Chair Alex Cullen have said on numerous occasions that it is important that Council appear unified behind a plan in order to get funding from upper levels of government. A plan is solid when it has withstood all criticism and serious consideration of the alternatives. If Council follows the Committee's recommendation, you will be dismissing criticism, not withstanding it. This is the blind faith that killed NS-LRT in 2006.

At Committee, Councillor Cullen said many times that the Staff plan has undergone vigorous consultation. However, all four options presented earlier this year included the Parkway corridor, all four options included $1.5B in bus investments, and no option considered rail to the East, West, and Southwest suburbs. It is misleading to the public and to our Federal and Provincial partners to claim that the public "chose" these. When consulted, the public loudly opposed the Parkway corridor, yet they are not being heard.

Please, Councillors, I urge you to give the Carling option fair consideration. If the parkway corridor is proven to be truly better, Council and the City will be able to stand unified behind it.

- RG>

1 comment:

ottawaproject said...

I've become a convert to the Carling idea, after initially being against it. I hope it at least gets some consideration from Council, though even that is probably hoping for too much.