Comment 121434

By ryanplestid (registered) | Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:04:04 in reply to Comment 121423

Hey Jim,

I think all of your concerns are important and pressing. To start I will play devil's advocate.

The LRT could, and should, help to pull some of the urban poor out of poverty. A humming economy can help everyone provided it is harnessed properly. More shops, more cafes and more restaurants, all mean jobs that can be filled by people who currently live in Beasely, St Clair, Lansdowne or any other neighbourhood that borders the LRT. Of course this argument requires some kind of affordable housing strategy, and this is the harnessing bit I alluded to, and it is what is key, because unlike some I do not believe for an instant that the free market left to its own devices helps any poor people. As noted elsewhere in the comments, I think you should expect and integrated fare, but it is certainly an important issue and needs to be advocated for. Your concern about walking longer may be justified, but its important to note the bus system will be re-aligned and optimized to feed into the LRT. This should mean you wont be walking too much. Hopefully outside of rush hour you will be allowed to bring your bike on the LRT. Finally, the LRT will certainly increase demand for living downtown, but it will also give the city leverage as developers try and get as close to the line as possible. I will discuss why that leverage matters below. You ask why we need to grow out tax base, and the answer is simple: cities cost money. The fact that you have the quality of life you do (mobility due to transit, places to go to, roads to bike on) is because the city has a tax base. Without growing that tax base, dysfunction will set in.

Now that I am done arguing the other side, I want to emphasize that every point you made is important, and needs to be advocated for, but that does not mean turning down a one billion dollar investment in the city is a better alternative.

I encourage you to think deeply on this matter, and maybe even writing an article. People with your perspective are incredibly important in this discussion and city hall needs to hear your voice. Suppose the LRT goes ahead, what needs to be done to make the LRT equitable to the urban poor? What macro-goals need to be achieved? Affordable housing, and economic inclusivity come to mind for me, i.e. ensuring existing residents are given access to the economic benefits that will come with the LRT. That is my limited perspective. Clearly fare integration is also a concern.

I believe Sarah Jama has raised many of the same concerns, but recognizes that LRT+Advocacy is better than the status quo. After the procurement is approved, and the LRT is clearly going ahead, this advocacy will be essential. That is one year away, it seems like now would be the time to get organized.

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