Tag Archives: Cambridge

The Road to Bike Lanes is Paved with Good and Bad Intentions

Yesterday Kitchener Councillor John Gazzola said the following on twitter regarding being against bike lanes on Westmount Road:

In an effort to more fully explain my thoughts on cycling let me share my experiences. I have been cycling on Westmount Rd for the last 18-20 years. It is a very busy street with miles & miles of sidewalks on each side of it. I continue to ride on the sidewalk. No harm to pedest.

When my old dog was a puppy, we were leash training down a sidewalk. A cyclist riding on the sidewalk ran over my dog. We rushed him to the vet. He ended up OK but for his whole life, my sheltie was afraid of bicycles.

A month ago, I was standing socially distancing in a line waiting to enter a bus on University Ave. Along came a man riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. All of the people standing in line moved over. I did not. I yelled at him to get off the sidewalk. He swerved around me, swearing. Pretty clever making that rude hand sign with only one hand on the handle bars.

Whose sidewalk is it anyway? There are laws against riding on the sidewalk, but despite me asking Regional staff and police over the years, they have never been enforced.

Another person on twitter said as part of the bike lane controversy: Pedestrians don’t want cyclists on sidewalks, car drivers don’t want them on roads. I wonder if giving cyclists their own lanes would work!

If I had a nickel for every time a politician invoked the words “silent majority”, I would be rich. If I had a dime for every time a person (usually old), looked out their window and said, “that cycle lane, that bus is empty”, I would give Bill Gates a run for his money. There once weren’t sidewalks along stretches of Westmount. I’m sure home owners said, “No one walks on the sidewalks, we don’t need them.”

You may have noticed the cycling trips counter in Uptown Waterloo. It only records bikes on the cycle path. I know, I have tried to make it register me walking. Many thanks to the Waterloo Chronicle for asking for the statistics that the Region has been gathering on cycling trips in the Uptown. https://www.waterloochronicle.ca/news-story/10132369-cyclists-trail-usership-up-by-thousands-in-waterloo/

According to numbers provided by the Uptown Waterloo Cycle Tracker, located on the southeast corner of King and Erb streets, from the beginning of April through the end of July, a bicycle was detected 23,873 times. That’s up almost 5,000 trips from a year ago (17,928) during the same time period.

This is during the pandemic when there are no university students, the biggest bicycle users, in town.

I have also been told that there is apparently a bicycle shortage as more and more people buy bicycles. A friend (Thanks Suzanne) checked this out at Canadian Tire and found very few bikes for sale. People are riding bikes and they need to be able to do it safely. That is why Regional Council is putting temporary separated bike lanes on Westmount, University, and Erb.Oh yes, and Coronation Blvd in Cambridge.

The cries of pain from car drivers because narrower roads mean they have to drive slower. Yet it is common for constituents to complain that people should drive slower, say the speed limit. Cambridge, unfortunately has always had a number of very angry people. Council caved and removed the temporary lanes from Coronation boulevard before even a month was gone. This is unfortunate because the wide medium on the road that once displayed wonderful flowers and now is full of weeds could be narrowed to include separated bike lanes.

Now that we have heard from former Mayor Doug Craig that Cambridge has been once more ignored by the wicked Region that put bike lanes on Coronation Blvd, you can be sure they will stay removed.

You may not remember, but Mayor Craig said Cambridge did not want the LRT and so Cambridge got express buses for their first stage. Once Kitchener Waterloo got LRT, he and his council complained that Cambridge was once more ignored and left out. (Even though the Region has been working for several years on the Cambridge extension). Expect Cambridge to shout about their lack of bike lanes when the temporary lanes in Kitchener and Waterloo become permanent.

If I had a quarter for every time Cambridge shouted about being left out …

If you examine these photos, you can see that cars with only one person in them, seem to be a whole lot more than the same number of cyclists or pedestrians. Something to consider when driving.

Transportation: Transit, part 4 of my Fourth of Five Priorities

My Pledges: I will work with staff to keep the buses coming on time and frequently. I will continue listening to and responding to GRT customer concerns. I will keep working on improving bus routes.

I ride the bus. My husband rides the bus. My older daughter rides the bus. My younger daughter and her family ride the bus. My three-year old grandson loves the bus and the song, The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, is his favourite . On a personal level and a political level, transit is an important file for me.

In the 1990s when I was a school trustee, transit was run by the cities. I had a devil of a time trying to get a school special put on for Bluevale Collegiate. Not much interest from Kitchener Transit which also ran the buses in Waterloo. There was no municipal bus between Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, let alone Ixpress or Bus Rapid Transit. Frankly, transit was not a priority for the city councillors of that time.

In 2000, transit was taken over by the Region of Waterloo and the new system was named Grand River Transit. Over the last 14 years, since I have been on Regional Council, transit has grown by leaps and bounds.

Specialized Transit

According to the Mobility Plus business plan, the service includes:

services provided by MobilityPLUS in the urban areas and North Dumfries and by contract to Kiwanis Transit for services in Wilmot, Wellesley and Woolwich townships. Since assuming this responsibility the total number of accessible trips provided by the Region increased by 116% from 190,936 in 2001 to 411,964 trips in 2010. This includes approximately 106,000 annual trips taken on conventional low floor transit buses on scheduled GRT bus routes.

All GRT buses are now accessible and the LRT will also be fully accessible, the first Light  Rail to do so in North America.

Regular Buses

Ridership has increased from 9.4 million rides in 1999 when GRT was established to 22 million in 2013. Ixpress and the Route 7 is packed with riders. Here is a link to the GRT business plan giving details of fares and route expansions, some of which have already happened.  It has a nice graph showing the growth of GRT.

http://www.grt.ca/en/aboutus/grtbusinessplan.asp

There is still a long way to go with the buses, though things are extremely improved. There still needs to be work on more routes, frequency and timeliness. Open Data and has been released which, along with GPS in the buses,  is leading to good apps to tell when the bus will arrive. Though the other day when my daughter’s bus was 10 minutes late, it was because the bus had been in an accident. Something that we would hope to avoid, but can’t always.

Transportation Part 1

Transportation Part 2

Transportation Part 3

 

Dams and Dykes More Important with Climate Change

Sometimes it seems like those of us who deal with climate change are shouting, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling. We must run and tell the King!”

The reality is, the sky is falling. In the form of increased, localized rain storms. We had one just this past week. These storms are becoming more frequent as the ice caps melt and the planet warms. The water must go somewhere and part of somewhere is the atmosphere. Climate change is complicated. It can lead to more rain and more drought. We need to look beyond one cold winter and spring to the trends going back one hundred years.

In the 1900s, Niagara Falls froze and people would go out onto an ice hill below the falls. The falls froze partially this past winter for the first time in many years but that doesn’t mean that climate change isn’t happening. Our memories of the weather in past years are very fallible and it is fortunate that the staff at the GRCA keep accurate statistics on the river.

This spring, the Grand River dodged a bullet. The cold winter meant a snow pack two to three times higher than usual. Combined with a lot of rain and ice jams, the spring melt would have meant flooding much worse than the 1974 flood in Cambridge. Fortunately a slow melt of warm days and cool nights and warmish weather and cold spells (perfect maple syrup weather), meant everything went well. The reservoirs were full at one point but the experts at the GRCA made sure it was properly released.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the great flood of May 1974. Since that time, as outlined in the May 17th, Waterloo Region Record article, stopping flooding is a full time job at the GRCA. It should be pointed out that the Galt flood happened after the spring melt and was caused by a half month’s worth of rain falling on already sodden ground. Sounds a lot like this May. We can only hope to dodge another bullet.

Since that time, dykes and the river wall by the School of Architecture plus vigilant work at the Grand River dams, have prevented severe flooding in Waterloo Region. On December 28, 2008, it is estimated that without the reservoirs, the flow of the Grand River in Cambridge (Galt) would have reached the flow  at Galt during the 1974 flood.

This leads me to point out that, other than transit, the three main parties in this election are silent on Climate Change.

The GRCA recently got grants from the province to pay for half the cost of fixing the dykes in Cambridge. However, the program the money came from, the Water and Erosion Control Infrastructure Program, was recently cut back, though the province has said they will return the funds next year.

Conservation Ontario’s flood business case highlights needed investments in aging infrastructure, Conservation Authority flood operations, floodplain mapping and asset management strategies.

Conservation Ontario and the GRCA have been lobbying the opposition parties and the present government about the importance of conservation authorities for a number of years. Hopefully all parties will understand the importance of preserving dykes and dams in a time of climate change.

Useful Links

 GRCA website

Forecasting

May 1974 Flood

The Record article,

Youtube part one

Youtube part 2

One Day in May

Climate Change

Arctic ice is shrinking

new report shows that the Antarctic glaciers are calving.

into the atmosphere. As the temperature increases, more moisture is absorbed.

Climate change denied

Niagara Falls 2014

Niagara Falls 1900

Cambridge is Playing Catchup on Transit.

Last Tuesday during the debate on accepting the LRT consortium, Councillor (and retired mayor) Jane Brewer said the following in response to remarks that transit in Cambridge is not as good as in the rest of the Region.

She stated that in the 1990s,when Greg Durocher (present head of Cambridge Chamber of Commerce), Doug Craig (present Mayor) and herself were on a Cambridge city council that ran transit, the council always dipped into the funding for Cambridge transit to fund other city needs. I thank her for saying that. It was very brave to admit the truth.

I knew this because I know people who live in Cambridge. My best friend has said many times how much better transit is now in Cambridge since the Region has taken it over. The bus that went by near her house used to only go one way. To get downtown, she would have to go all the way around the the route,even though she could walk to downtown Galt in a half-hour.

Recently her son attended the University of Waterloo. In his first year, he was able to live at home. He took the bus that now went both ways to the Ainslie terminal and took the Ixpress to the University. He loves his Upass and will be sad to give it up when he graduates.

Here are the statistics from when the Region took over transit in Cambridge:

1.      Annual ridership in Cambridge has increased from 1.11 million in 1999 (GRT was established in January 2000) to 3.66 million in 2013, a 229% increase. During the same time period, total GRT ridership increased from 9.47 million to 22 million, a 132% increase.
 
Correspondingly, the amount of service provided in Cambridge increased from 59,300  to 143,900 annual service hours, a 141% increase. In comparison, annual service hours on GRT increased from 336,100 to 631,800, an 88% increase.
 
 
2.      Also, please find attached a table that details the 2014 service reductions in Cambridge and the new Maple Grove iXpress. In total, we are adding more service (4,458 annual service hours) and project an increase of 17,659 rides annually in Cambridge.
 
There is also a million dollars a year going to Cambridge to improve transit. The aBRT will be starting in late 2014 or 2015. It is an Ixpress with priority signals and priority lanes during busy times. It is laying the groundwork for the LRT extension to Cambridge.
The cost to build the LRT from Fairway Kitchener to Ainslie Terminal in Cambridge is the same as building phase one from King St. Conestoga Mall to Fairway Mall. As noted above, Kitchener and Waterloo have more ridership than Cambridge due to the catchup Cambridge  transit has had to make since the Region took it over.
Staff are presently meeting with residents from two seniors’ homes who are having problems with the Cambridge route cuts. The Region always does this. Hopefully we can do some rejigging for the seniors.
The route changes in Cambridge (There are also cuts in Kitchener) are listed below:

Route

Day Type

Effective Date

Service Change Description

Annual Service Hours Change

Forecasted Annual Ridership Change

57 Blair Road

Weekday

Apr 28 2014

From 30 minute to no midday service

(1,230)

(8,864)

58 Elmwood

Saturday

May 3 2014

From 30 to 60 minute service

(333)

(2,518)

61 Conestoga College

Weekday

Apr 28 2014

From 30 to 60 minute service during midday in spring only

(195)

(799)

Weekday

Jun 23 2014

From 30 to 60 minute service during midday in summer only

(240)

(877)

62 Woodside

Saturday

May 3 2014

From 30 to 60 minute service

(213)

(1,439)

66 Winston

Weekday

Apr 28 2014

Route discontinued and replaced with modified Route 71 Melran

(2,680)

(11,844)

203 Maple Grove iXpress

 

Weekday

Apr 28 2014

Introduce new route from the Cambridge Centre to Sportsworld via Franklin Boulevard and Maple Grove Road, operating every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

9,349

44,000

Weekday

Sep 2 2014

Extend service during peak periods to Conestoga College Doon and Cambridge Campuses

NET TOTAL

4,458

17,659

Public Engagement and Publicity around the Ion

When we were in China, our guide proudly told us that subway extensions are built in one year. The land is expropriated and the people moved and that’s it. No public input. Quite different here, where it has taken 10 years to get to the point of building the LRT.

Some people have said that the Region isn’t doing enough to publicize or engage the public over the building of the LRT. Please remember, we’ve been publicizing this issue for 10 years, three election cycles.

This is just what has been done  in 2011 and 2013 and doesn’t include all the public meetings, newsletters, etc, etc before the 2010 election.

2011:

In 2011, prior to Council¡s decision on the preferred approach to rapid transit ( remember, council had already approved the LRT once, before the 2010 election, this was the relook), the Region held a variety of community relations activities and events, including:
25 public consultation/information centres (2,650 participants);
20 consultations with local businesses and agencies (550 participants);
two formal public input meetings at Council (101 participants);
a live webcast (139 participants);
1,760 written comments from the community. (On top of this, I got 1000 individual emails in support of the Ion, the most emails on any topic ever and way more than the anti-emails which were around 100)

2013:

Appendix A ¡V Complete list of ION presentations
City of Cambridge Economic Development Committee ¡V January 9, 2013
City of Cambridge Revitalization Advisory Committee ¡V January 9, 2013
Tri-TAG Meeting  January 17, 2013
Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee ¡V January 24, 2013
LPGA Organizers ¡V January 28, 2013
Downtown Kitchener BIA Networking Event ¡V January 30, 2013
City of Waterloo/BIA Update Meeting ¡V February 13, 2013
Preston BIA AGM ¡V February 20, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA Update ¡V February 21, 2013
Galt BIA Update ¡V March 8, 2013
Public Art Advisory Committee ¡V March 11, 2013
Reurbanization Community Advisory Panel ¡V March 25, 2013
University of Waterloo Employee Lunch & Learn ¡V March 27, 2013
Downtown Kitchener BIA Networking Event ¡V March 27, 2013
Wonders of Winter Meeting ¡V April 2, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA Networking Event ¡V April 4, 2013
University of Waterloo School of Architecture ¡V April 10, 2013
Galt BIA AGM ¡V April 23, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA AGM ¡V April 24, 2013
Downtown Kitchener Action and Advisory Committee ¡V April 25, 2013
Waterloo Wellington Museums and Art Galleries Network Meeting ¡V May 6, 2013
City of Waterloo Fire and Rescue ¡V May 6, 2013
Reurbanization Community Advisory Panel ¡V May 6, 2013
City of Waterloo Fire and Rescue ¡V May 7, 2013
Kitchener Economic Development Advisory Committee ¡V May 22, 2013
Waterloo Rotary Club ¡V May 23, 2013
Alliance for a Grand Community ¡V May 25, 2013
Building Downtown Kitchener 2020 Vision Event ¡V May 29, 2013
Downtown Kitchener BIA Networking Event ¡V May 29, 2013
Belmont BIA Annual General Meeting ¡V June 12, 2013
Tri-TAG Update ¡V June 13, 2013
Terrance on the Square ¡V June 14, 2013
UpTown West Waterloo Neighbourhood Association ¡V June 17, 2013
City of Kitchener Arts and Culture Advisory Committee ¡V June 18, 2013
Public Art Advisory Committee ¡V June 21, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA Walking Tour ¡V June 21, 2013
King & Northfield Business Owners ¡V June 25, 2013
Downtown Kitchener BIA Networking Event ¡V June 26, 2013
Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee ¡V August 22, 2013
Cambridge Rotary Club ¡V August 23, 2013
Wilfrid Laurier University Get Involved Fair ¡V September 4, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA Walking Tour ¡V September 9, 2013
Oktoberfest Meeting September 9, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA Networking Event  September 9, 2013
City of Waterloo All Staff Lunch and Learn  September 11, 2013
Waterloo Park Advisory Committee  September 11, 2013
City of Kitchener All Staff Lunch and Learn  September 12, 2013
Region of Waterloo All Staff Lunch and Learn  September 13, 2013
City of Waterloo/BIA Update Meeting  September 18, 2013
Public Art Advisory Committee  September 26, 2013
Central Frederick Neighbourhood Association  September 28, 2013
Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee October 10, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA AGM  November 6, 2013
Mary Ellen Neighbourhood Association  November 7, 2013
City of Waterloo Economic Development Committee November 14, 2013
Grand River Building Manager¡s Association  November 19, 2013
Tri-TAG Meeting  November 28, 2013
Reurbanization Community Advisory Panel ¡V December, 2013
Public Works Association  December 9, 2013
UpTown West Taskforce Committee  December 18, 2013
Community Building Strategy
Waterloo (Knox Church)  February 20, 2013
Kitchener (The Tannery)  February 21, 2013
Cambridge (Cambridge City Hall)  February 25, 2013
Rapid Transit Brand Name
Cambridge (United Kingdom Club)  January 10, 2013
Waterloo (Knox Church)  January 14, 2013
Kitchener (School of Pharmacy)  January 15, 2013
Grand River Hospital  Entrance and Intersection Modification
Waterloo (Knox Church)March 20, 2013
ION Stop Design Concepts
Kitchener (Regional Headquarters)  June 19, 2013
Cambridge (Chamber of Commerce)  June 20, 2013
Waterloo (Knox Church)  June 25, 2013
Northfield Drive at Highway 85  Intersection Modification
Waterloo (Albert McCormick Arena) June 27, 2013
City of Waterloo Transportation Summit
Waterloo Recreation Complex  October 30, 2013
UpTown Waterloo Streetscape
Waterloo Recreation Complex  November 13, 2013
Ottawa & Mill Street  Intersection Modification
Concordia Club  December 4, 2013

This does not include the Regional newsletter that goes to every household in the region, the monthly Ion newsletter, the LRT website, social media, the visit of the train mock up, etc. etc.

Here are some of the events for 2014

While ION staff continue to refine the community relations and communications
initiatives planned for 2014, a series of major activities and events have already been
indentified. They include:
Funding agreement signing with the Province (Winter/Spring)
To highlight Ontario¡¦s investment in ION
Start of Hydro One construction (Winter)
Along the hydro corridor near Fairview Park Mall
Neighbourhood Advisory Panel (Spring)
Nominations to be collected in the spring; meetings to begin in the fall
Focus on providing information to residents, overall updates, input, etc.
Name the ION stops contest (Spring)
To collect feedback in order to finalize the name of each ION stop

Funding agreement event with the federal government (Spring/Summer)
To highlight Canada¦s investment in ION
Stage 1 LRT contract signing (Spring)
Celebrate the signing of the Project Agreement with the team selected to
design, build, finance, operate and maintain Stage 1 LRT in Waterloo
Region
Start of LRT construction (Summer)
Groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of ION LRT construction
 Stage 2 LRT consultation (Summer) (That’s the Cambridge LRT Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig says will never exist. Hmmm)
Public engagement begins on the route, stops and alignment for Stage 2
LRT (Cambridge to Kitchener), in advance of the Environmental
Assessment
Start of ION aBRT construction (Summer)
Groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of aBRT construction
ION aBRT service launch (Fall/early-2015)
To celebrate the start of aBRT service in Waterloo Region

Travelling the Light Rail in Vancouver

Skytrain Vancouver

Skytrain Vancouver

wheelchair, transit

Riding the Rails

Seats that flip up

Seats that flip up

Seat flipped up

Seat flipped up

If you watch the Amazing Race Canada, you would have seen the contestants riding the Skytrain in Vancouver. Like them, we travelled from the airport to our hotel in downtown Vancouver. The cost? 9 dollars. On the train, we noticed places for bicycles. A man in a wheelchair sat across from us. John Coplan told us that he travels all

over the lower mainland by bus and train for 52 dollars a month. He finds Vancouver transit easy to get on.

The cost for us from the airport to downtown Vancouver, stopping below our hotel was 9 dollars. A bargain compared to the chartered bus after our cruise of 43 dollars each.

The Skytrain was fast and efficient. I was also interested in the open places for bikes and wheelchairs, the seats that flipped up individually for strollers

Bike space

Bike space

and wheelchairs.

We got on the train on the “honour system” but I noticed that when we got on the Skytrain at other times, a notice at the entrance to the stations said that turnstiles were coming.  Something the region should think about eventually with the Ion.

Skytrain City Centers

As part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, I took a guided tour of the Skytrain system. Like my visit to Portland’s suburban stops, the Greater Vancouver area is building walkable and bikable towncentres along its stops outside the Vancouver city center. This is the same idea Waterloo Region has for Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge.

New Westminster has built shops and condos around its Skytrain stop, other towns are building condos, commercial and office, and bike and pedestrian trails. The most interesting stop was in Surrey. A failing shopping mall was revived by building a campus of Simon Fraser University and an office tower as a new part of the mall. The mall now has thriving shops. An athletic club is also beside the Skytrain stop. It is very easy to ride the Skytrain and transit is heavily used.I should note that city officials told us they would have preferred ground level LRT for Vancouver but the province insisted on the Skytrain. Getting up to the platform required stairs or an elevator. The trains came quite often.  I also took a city bus to Granville Island for a dinner. No problem getting around Vancouver.

 

.

university mall

SFU built around a mall

university

SFU around a mall

carpark

Unsightly  car park by the riverwalk is soon to be torn down.

intensify

Shops and condos in New Westminster

biketrail

Bike path and pedestrain walk by the Skytrain stop

IMG_00000118 IMG_00000115

My Light Rail Transit Speech and some Nifty LRT Pictures.

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My Speech

Thank you to staff who have worked and are working so hard on this project.

Thank you to everyone who emailed, mailed, met with me, twittered or phoned me.  And  the delegations and the people at the meetings. Well over 600 emails. If I haven’t gotten back to you yet, be assured I will. Regional councillors answer their own email.  I have never had anywhere near the response I have had on this issue.  Most of the people who have contacted me are for LRT.

also went door to door during the past municipal election. I personally visited thousands of doors, as I always do.  There were people against LRT. A lot were against because they needed transit in their area. Which is why I support increased regular transit and would like to see more in the future. I will deal with cost later. There were also people for LRT.

Most people just had a lot of questions which I was pleased to answer. This I believe is what happened at our public meetings. People came with a lot of questions and our staff answered them.

The public have spoken and we’ve listened. However, listening does not necessarily mean doing what people ask. For some here tonight, I have listened but I have said No.

Light Rail Transit runs quietly on electricity. It doesn’t spew smog into our air. I hope in the future we can run the system on renewable energy.

With less staff and more passengers, it is more economical in the long run.

As the Chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority, I have been travelling from Cambridge to Waterloo in the rush hour.  There is more congestion in Cambridge than there is in KW. Could this be because more people ride transit in KW?  I’m glad we’re ramping up transit in Cambridge but we need to start stage 2, LRT to Cambridge as soon as possible.

No one has talked about jobs and the LRT. The province and the federal government have given us a jaw dropping amount of money. Why? To help Waterloo Region through the recession. Jobs have disappeared in our Region and most of them were to do with the car industry, particularly the automobiles that eat gas. We need to reinvent our economy again and LRT helps with this.

LRT is estimated to create up to 23,000 new permanent jobs in the station areas. Everything from flower shops to tech start-ups. This isn’t even including the jobs created building and running the LRT.

During the election, I stated that I wanted Bus Rapid Transit back on the table. I voted for that and it was done.

The public and myself had the chance of another look. Unfortunately, almost everyone has found it wanting. Those against The LRT, such as Taxpayers for sensible transit  are for abrt which is a souped up Ixpress that will still be caught in traffic.  All the problems people think exist for LRT, like its dedicated lane, are also part of BRT. And experience elsewhere shows that BRT quickly creates its own congestion.

My second request during the election was that staff bring a report on keeping the costs down. The other concern at the door. They have put in some cuts. But I am most pleased with Councillor Wideman’s amendment that reduces the tax increase to  .7%.  I said during the election that I did not want property tax to increase on the capital portion left over after the province and feds had put in their money. These reductions do this.

The City of Waterloo will finally get its due. Light Rail Transit benefits Waterloo the most.  It will develop our industrial area on Northfield and our R and T park. Waterloo is up to its borders and must intensify. LRT helps do this. The trains will transport our young professionals and university students. The Ixpress, number 9 and mainline 7 are jammed with passengers.

Uptown will have huge benefits from light rail. I wish I could show some of the pictures I have from downtowns around the world that have light rail. People cycling and walking beside the train. Even a fountain between one of the tracks. I wish you all could have travelled to Edmonton, Calgary and Portland, even  Switzerland years ago, as I have.

 Cars don’t shop, people shop.  I ride the bus (yes I use my car and transit) and many times I have come from the region, gotten off at Waterloo Square and done some shopping then hopped back on the bus and gone home or onto Conestoga Mall. I can even go up to the Market and the Outlet Mall in the same trip. Think of 450 people getting off the bus at Waterloo Square.

Waterloo Park will be fine. I have seen a picture of a train with grass growing through the track. People will be able to easily cross the tracks and our report talks about the sensitivity to the heritage of the park.

When the LRT phase one is finished, my new grandson will be around six years old. We will get on my number 9 bus, then onto the train and get off at Waterloo Park where we will visit the zoo and the Wonder of Winter Lights. Then we will head home the same way. He and his generation are the future.

I support LRT.

My Waterloo Region Includes Cambridge.

If you say something over and over and it gets quoted over and over, eventually people will believe you, even if it isn’t the truth. For 10 years I have listened to Mayor Doug Craig say that the Region ignores poor Cambridge. Twice in the last few weeks he has claimed that the Region did nothing to help Cambridge get a GO train.

Untrue! The Region commissioned a 100,000 dollar study (That was paid for by Waterloo taxpayers too — more about that later) to show that Cambridge needs GO trains. We have also lobbied for it.

Cambridge is not the poor step-sister of the Region. In fact, as shown by a study done by the Record, my city, Waterloo, gets the least amount of Regional funds.

But lets face it, whining works. Ten years ago when I got on Regional Council, the Region took over transit. When Cambridge owned transit, it sucked. One of my friends in Cambridge had a bus go by her house, but to get the half mile to the city centre, she would have had to travel for an hour because the bus only travelled one way.

Now that bus travels both ways, she can go to the mall and she can take a fast bus to Kitchener and Waterloo when before there was no bus between the cities.

Money has been poured into Cambridge roads, the redevelopment of 150 Main St. into a Social Services building and social housing. Garbage collection now includes large item pick-up. Cambridge has the lion’s share of new industrial lands while poor Waterloo is knocking up against its boundaries.

Cambridge has a Regional Historic Site and  a Regional daycare that has just been expanded. Waterloo has neither. The Police Headquarters is in Cambridge.

Yes KW could have LRT first, but it would cost twice as much to extend it to Cambridge in the first phase. And Cambridge doesn’t have the ridership of KW — see my comments about Cambridge’s previous lack of transit. Guess which city will get the most benefit from Light Rail?  That’s right, Waterloo with its two universities and tech park.

Staff and councillors tip toe around Cambridge. Regional committees I belong to worry that Cambridge is included. They make sure they have meetings in Cambridge. When I was first on the Region, Waterloo citizens often had to go to Kitchener City Hall for public meetings. I got that changed and now there are meetings in Waterloo and /or at regional headquarters. But, Cambridge, they always get public meetings.

Now I don’t begrudge Cambridge a thing. I’m the first to say that Cambridge should get their phase of the LRT as soon as possible after the first phase, should we choose Light Rail.

And I have nothing against people being for Bus Rapid Transit. But don’t be for BRT because Cambridge, for once, isn’t getting what they are whining for.

By the Way, I will continue to ask for a historic site in Waterloo. But really, we don’t have to feel bad about neglect in Waterloo. Some of the costs we don’t get in Waterloo are because we don’t need the social services. If Cambridge is the Quebec of Waterloo Region, Waterloo is the British Columbia. Our Prince Charming turned out to be a tech guy.

Watch Out for that Flood!

One of the main jobs of the Grand River Conservation Authority is flood control. Two major events helped create the GRCA we know today, Hurricane Hazel and the Cambridge flood of 1974. Here’s some great footage from Youtube of the 1974 flood.

Since that time, dikes and dams have been built to stop the flooding. Here’s a picture of the river in Galt in 2008.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/body_soul_spirit/3149659138/

 The GRCA also stopped people from building on the flood plain and requires permits for anything built in an area that might be flooded in a 100 year flood.  There is also a flood warning and forecasting system.

Today I attended the flood coordinator’s meeting of the people including police, fire, GRCA, and municipal who receive the fan out of a flood warning for areas like New Hamburg, Ayr, and Dunnville. Dunnville ended up with a flood in 2009 due to an ice jam that ran right up the river, for kilometers. the ice breaker Griffin was able to dislodge some of the ice and help reduce the flooding

It was timely to hear how flood warnings go out, as we are now in the middle of a thaw of the large amount of snow accumulated over the last few weeks combined with rain. The icebreaker, Griffin, is heading to the mouth of Lake Erie to break up an ice jam again. With climate change, we must be ready for 100 year floods that now come every few years.

Here is a video shown at the coordinator’s meeting from the floods in Australia. It was pointed out that we have had sudden large amounts of rain in the watershed and this could happen here.

After the meeting, one of the staff commented to me, “This is why we need permits, even for parking lots.”

300 million for Rapid Transit!

The province has given 300 million for rapid transit.

 Three things to remember as the Record notes the possible shortfall from the province.
1. I am sure staff is busy looking at plans and alternatives for council.
2. The feds have to put their amount in.
3. Regional councillors are not going to look kindly on any funny kind of money agreement like the RIM park financing. The accountants on staff (not to mention the accountants like Mayor Carl Zehr) are thankfully extremely prudent and conservative (small c)

 Further thoughts on LRT

Electric trains will be a lot quieter along King St. And people forget that roads and increasing lanes not only cut up a city but also increase noise and gridlock. Onlyhaving more roads  would cost the same and the dedicated bus 555 million. But most importantly in these times, this line will create approxitmately 35,000 permanent jobs around the stations.

Two statements that keep coming up.

The trains are going from mall to mall.  First, there is a certain amount of snobbery in people who use the word “mall” as if it was a bad thing. Secondly, the LRT stops at the universities, both downtowns, the RT park, hospital and King/Ottawa. Eventually it will go to Cambridge where, horrors, it may stop at a mall then onto historic Ainslie St.

The trains aren’t flexible like buses, the route can’t be changed.  There will always be transit in the central corridor. There is now with the number 7 buses and Ixpress  and there was in the deep past when I was a girl and took the bus and trolleys ran between Forwells and Rockway Center.  No need for flexibility when the main route will always exist and always be busy. Yup, Ixpress was busy on Monday morning even with the students gone for the summer.

Here is a comment from my cousin John in England about the LRT.

“If you’re going to spend, strikes me that it’s best done on investment for the future. Sounds like this scheme ticks a lot of positive boxes, from enabling economic growth without putting more cars on the road, to creating construction jobs during the project and then a shedload of permanent jobs thereafter, with long term benefits for the area, extending way into the future. This side of the pond we’re concerned that the austerity squeeze won’t leave room for some of this kind of thing to happen. Seems clear that anything not already under way will struggle to get approved.”

 Here’s the link for the #LRT project,
http://rapidtransit.region.waterloo.on.ca/about-the-project.html