Hello everyone, it has been awhile.
Last night, I delegated to Brampton city council for the final LRT vote. We didn't get the result we wanted, which was the full plan including the surface alignment through downtown Brampton on Main Street to Brampton GO. Instead the Obstructionist Six voted to stop the line at Steeles Avenue.
What follows is my notes of what I said. I followed it, making things longer and shorter as I spoke. I also made some more punchy comments.
My name is Divyesh Mistry, and I'm a resident of Ward 9. I support the Main street alignment of the HMLRT. I'm what they call a choice transit rider, someone who willingly chooses to use public transit most of the time. I see the LRT as helping boost transit ridership, as well as accelerate economic growth in Downtown Brampton. There's a been a few businesses that have opened up since I started visiting and spending money in DT, and only started doing that with the introduction of Zum 502 Main.
I understand the frustrations that are made with the "Made in Brampton" arguments, but the thinking that every city fends for itself is outdated. Brampton is not competing on a world stage. Brampton, Mississauga, TO, as a comprehensive economic unit is competing together against world city regions. And world city regions need better, integrated rapid transit that connects all the urban centres.
GO trains to Toronto aren't enough. We need the LRT as north-south transit axis of gravity for Peel, especially as there aren't enough direct N-S RT lines in the GTA. Yes some people will travel to Square One using the LRT. But people are already doing that with the Zum bus and I don't see any councillors trying to cut the Zum lines. Nobody is trying the GO buses and trains because they travel to the Eatons Centre or Yorkdale, are they?
You can't pick and choose where people who live in this city can go to work, play, or school, like you can't prevent nor would you want to prevent others from coming in. Think outside the squabbling municipal fiefdom box, it's not that hard.
And to those who don't think that rapid transit is needed for university expansion, take it from me who's covered university expansion news for the past few years for several campus newspapers. Laurier Milton, a suburban isolated campus in the making for 7 years, lost out to urban, connected York Markham with its proper BRT and soon-all-day GO service. Lots of universities have been expanding to their downtown regions, like UWindsor, UWaterloo, and even UOIT which only opened 10 years ago is shifting more of it's program to DT Oshawa.
I fear the stoping the LRT at Steeles would signal that we're not ready for other rapid transit. Why should the province, the feds, build a Queen Street LRT or Steeles BRT, if we won't upgrade an existing busy service? Nevermind the investment can go other cities who have shovel-ready projects or are studying extensions and other phases, like KW and Ottawa who are contributing a third of their existing project costs?
If this vote means we stop at Steeles, it also means we're not ready for the big cities table. The city loses the respect of its peers, and our city will lose out on talent on the civil servant level, as well as private businesses. Sometimes, hard decisions have to be made. But this one has 73% on proper poll, so I say go for it.