Friday, February 19, 2010

A rare rebuttal

I don't usually do this, but a letter appearing in the Star today needs a response:
It is interesting to note that most LRT proponents live along or near subway lines. Their ideology prevents them from reading or understanding studies and reports that clearly spell out the negative impacts on traffic and communities. Communities in the suburbs are designed and behave differently than those in the downtown core. Just because people aren't walking along Sheppard Ave., Catherine Porter asks, "What community?" and suggests we have nothing to save! Porter's article highlights the disconnect between downtown Toronto and its suburbs.


Patricia Sinclair, Save Our Sheppard, Scarborough
First of all, I find it wholely offensive to suggest that those who support Light Rail Transit are making their decision based on ideology, rather than the facts being presented to them. I also find it wholly offensive to suggest that this is downtown ganging up on the suburbs. These comments are completely without basis, and I would expect better from seasoned neighbourhood activists trying to win the hearts and minds of citizens and decision makers in particular.

Secondly, the impact on the transportation network and on communities are positive. The transportation network isn't about moving vehicles - it's about moving people. When you remove transit from traffic then people in vehicles don't have to wait behind buses and people on trams don't have to wait behind vehicles. Everybody wins. When it comes to the impact on the community, there is no evidence that the community will be cut in two. Is the east side of Spadina segregated from the west side? Is the LRT along Queens Quay preventing people on the north side from enjoying the waterfront? The construction phase did cause disruption, but this will be true of any project. There is no basis to suggest that the community will be destroyed by building this project. Look at St. Clair two years from now and you will see it back to its old self, if not better.

Finally, it is true that the suburbs behave differently than the downtown core. However that behaviour contributes to the arguments against building a subway. There are fewer major trip generators, fewer mixed use areas, lower densities and fewer opportunities for intensification. We need to have these things in order to make a subway economically viable, since they cost ten times that of an LRT line. These are not ideological beliefs. These are facts.

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2 Comments:

At 2/19/2010 3:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please submit this letter to the Star for publication.

 
At 2/21/2010 8:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In her article, Porter makes an obvious point that is nonetheless important to repeat:

"It's suburbanites like Lanoue that the brains behind Transit City have to convert... It will require meetings and flexibility and a staff that is willing to listen to the people this system is aiming to serve and that recognizes that locals bring an insight and passion for the area that engineers and planners cannot."

A bit of wisdom: people who are happy with the status quo will always fear change.

 

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