We had some good conversation around LRT today. I remain firmly on board (pun intended) with the plan and I look forward to even more conversations as the June 15th vote at regional council approaches. This is the biggest decision to impact our community in some decades and it promises to shape our community for some decades to come — no matter which way the final vote goes.
Based on some of the points made by you, I’ve had some random thoughts bouncing around in my mind since we signed off the air at 3 PM. Here they are:
Many people supporting LRT are students — I’m not convinced this is the case but, even if it is, why not allow them the voice? While they are not paying property taxes today, a light rail system is about more than moving people around this community. It’s about changing the culture and making it more liveable. If the students — many of whom come to our community just for an education — like the community they call home for the duration of their schooling, they’ll be an awful lot more likely to stay. And then they will pay property taxes.
Support from the tech sector is a red herring because other cities (such as London and Hamilton) are also competing for these new businesses — so we should just roll over and allow other cities to pluck business opportunities that could have been ours? Or are we to simply allow those that are here to depart?
We used to have train tracks running down King Street — this is one of my favourites. It’s true, we did. But to use that as an argument against the current proposal is to build the argument on a flawed foundation. First of all, that was a generation ago. So you can’t accuse today’s elected officials of turning their backs on the rail lines that existed. It simply wasn’t their decision. More importantly, though, the generation that buried the existing tracks on King was a generation that had fallen head over heels in love with the automobile. That generation drove enormous cars with enormous, gas-guzzling engines. But that was that generation. Today, we’re moving in increasing numbers to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Many of us are abandoning our vehicles entirely in search of “greener” transportation. The decisions of today’s council should reflect the values and social/environmental conscience of this generation. Light rail transit accomplishes that.
The conversation will continue. Anytime you propose a $1-billion project, there will be debate. And while I will never call this project inexpensive, I remain convinced that it’s necessary. Money for transit is not reckless spending, it’s an investment in the health and, in many ways, the future of our community. This is not about us. It’s about the kind of community we want to create for the generations to come.