Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Peel on Rails

In case you have not heard, there is a plan on the books to introduce a light rail line through Mississauga and Brampton. Currently going by Hurontario-Main LRT (website), this development will link Port Credit in Mississauga to Downtown Brampton. The plan was included in Metrolinx’s Big Move, and it is a priority for the city of Mississauga.

I am not entirely sure of the value of the plan. I’m currently working on a post for another platform about the fact that we too easily fall in love with light rail even when it is more expensive and just as effective as bus rapid transit. This proposed line is estimated at $1.5 billion. I participated in the public consultation though and the plan has been steadily moving forward for a few years now.

This made Mayor Susan Fennell’s remarks this past week even more shocking. The Brampton Mayor suggested that the LRT was unnecessary and could be replaced by extending Brampton Züm service all the way down to Mississauga’s waterfront. This suggestion took many leaders in Peel by surprise. Mayor Hazel McCallion of Mississauga was chief among them saying, “absolutely no way.” Worse still, this is the first time this notion has been floated by Mayor Fennell. No one on city council, or anyone else had even heard of this suggestion previously.

Worse still Mayor Fennell has been criticizing the proposed taxes to pay for Metrolinx and the Big Move, along with the plan itself. I do not always agree with Mayor Fennell, but I think this is pretty clearly a dereliction of duty on her part. Brampton is the third largest municipality in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area, behind Toronto and Mississauga and just ahead of Hamilton. The simple truth is we must sacrifice if we want to escape crippling gridlock in the decades ahead. Consensus is building and Mayor Fennell’s sudden cold feet at having to pay taxes to support key investments is short-sighted.

Public consultation for the LRT line through Peel is ongoing, tomorrow a public information session will be held at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archive in downtown Brampton from 3 PM to 8 PM. Also, on the 16, 17, 21 and 22 of this month a demonstration car will be set up in Gage Park to show what a train car might look like. Be sure to come out and let your opinion be known.

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