Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hurontario LRT & Urban Design PIC

I went to the Hurontario Rapid Transit / Urban Design public information centre at Brampton City Hall tonight, and found Sean Marshall from Spacing hanging around his old stomping grounds. While there were very few people there, staff answered all of the questions asked with a lot of depth. They seemed genuinely interested in the suggestions we had to offer, both written and verbally. There was paper, pens and post-it notes for us to use, and it was always within arms' reach.

From the transit side of things, the decision was clearly between LRT and BRT, with the only uncertainty being how to deal with the narrow sections between Queen Street & Shoppers World, and between the QEW & Lakeshore. Going elevated might interfere with the urban design of the area, going underground might be costly, and traveling in mixed traffic might end in disaster. The City of Brampton is also looking at moving the Shoppers' World terminal closer to Main Street, which I take as an indication that they are striving for better. In addition, the project leader was very clear that there was no intention of making people transfer at municipal boundaries - another sign they are looking to provide a better customer experience.

From the urban design side of things, I got the sense that there was a real desire to build transit oriented development along the corridor in order to make Hurontario be more of a complete street. The slogan used was "21st Century Main Street", and many of the concepts presented reminded me of the lively main streets in small towns in Ontario. The only challenge will be how to urbanize the area between Steeles and Bristol, which is currently a mix of warehouses, vacant fields and offices setback fifty feet from the property line.

Overall, I think it was a great session, and I can only hope the Mississauga side presents the same vision to the public tomorrow.

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