On May 1, 2013 the City finally (after a near 1 yr silence) convened the 5th meeting of the public consultation group (PCG) for the W-LRT route selection study. The CCC has been participating all along in this process and indicated our disappointment that the public open house held the week before occurred before the PCG meeting. This was not the 1st time this has happened and the City acknowledged this was not the way things are supposed to be done.
At this PCG meeting the City reiterated the proposal already presented at the public open house of their new preferred route now called the Richmond Underground or 'green' line. It was quite apparent that there is no interest whatsoever on the part of the City to consider the possibility of a Carling routing for the W-LRT.
The position that the CCC presented at this May 1st PCG meeting is that the manner in which the City could develop in the next 20-50 year time horizon could be considerably different if the W-LRT took a northerly route (Parkway-Richmond) versus a southerly route (Carling). Because of the magnitude of this city building potential, a detailed picture of what these differences could be like in the 20-50 year time horizon and a city-wide debate on the costs/benefits of these differences was warranted. It is our view that nothing of this sort has occurred to date.
For more details on what was discussed at the meeting regarding the new proposed Richmond Underground route and why the Carling Ave route has been discounted, visit our W-LRT project page.
Considering the level of detail that the public has been provided and engaged in for other large infrastructure projects (Downtown LRT, East End Interprovincial Bridge, Lansdowne re-development), the transparency in the case of the W-LRT route selection is sorely lacking.
This leaves one to speculate on possible reasons why the process has been so poor for this project. On multiple occasions the City has mentioned that the available transit funding 'envelope' over the next 20 year horizon is fixed and limited and as a result any increase in costs for building the inside-the-Greenbelt components of the system (such as this W-LRT segment) means less money available for extending later to the 'outside-the-greenbelt' portions. It seems plausible that once again suburban priorities are trumping urban ones and that doing it on the cheap to get out to the edge of the Greenbelt is more important than doing it right. Could this be the reason for the lack of willingness to have a detailed conversation with the public on the Carling route. At least can we have this conversation? For the sake of the next 100 years and the shape of how our City will develop?
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