Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's letter time again

With a transit proposal that costs a lot of money on the table, there are a lot of people who resent the idea of paying more taxes for something that doesn't benefit them directly and immediately.

Arguments about all the other things the Region spends money on that "don't benefit them directly" either, of course, seem to fall on deaf ears. And the last thing that appeals to a car-dependent city, of course, is public transit. Because who uses transit? Everyone drives. So don't spend money on transit!

We're facing down a decision on what will be the backbone of transit in Waterloo Region. It could, quite literally, define our community over the next fifty years. And its goals for the next twenty years are surprisingly modest-- move 15% of peak time travel out of cars and into trains and buses.

But the benefit of that move is anything but modest. It will absorb the worst impact of our growth, and will channel more of that growth into downtown areas that can sustain it.

I fear something ugly may happen. The LRT/aBRT proposal is too easy to oppose for superficial reasons. There is no sentiment among the community to look to the future. And some councilors are making noises that they will simply react to their email inboxes, where people who read the latest opinion piece from Taylor or Outhit send their knee-jerk reactions. (Because if that's all they read, then they're probably thinking LRT is going to repossess their homes and molest their pets.)

Of course, it's our councilors' jobs to be informed and do what they think is best for the Region. If we didn't have a Council, and simply relied on public sentiment, nothing would get done until it was far, far too late.

So... it's 'Loonie Letter Time again. Time to remind the councilors themselves of the duty of care they must take.

I am writing to let you know that I completely support the current LRT proposal. No plan is perfect, but this one strikes the right compromise between our needs and our resources.

But I am urging you to base your decision on LRT on what you believe is best for the long term future of the Region of Waterloo. I am not asking you to blindly support it or oppose it. What I want you to consider is:
  • Public support at the consultation sessions has been very strong. Those who have taken the time to be informed generally support LRT.
  • The Region staff have compiled convincing arguments for LRT. Peer review has validated their case.
  • Growth is coming. We can shape it, and be ready for it. But we ignore it at our peril.
Of course, it is clear that a lot of people resent the disruption and costs of LRT. But it is also clear that many (if not most) of these people have not taken the time to understand it. It's easy to simply react to the price tag. But as an elected representative, it's your job to understand the issues and make a sound decision based on our present and future needs. However you vote, so long as you can justify that decision, no one can really complain.

However, if you ignore the pros and cons, and base your decision on current public sentiment, then I'll be blunt: What's the point of having councilors at all?

Thank you, and good luck in the days ahead.

It's the best I can do. But maybe you should do the same. Please write your regional councilors and tell them how you feel. I believe some of them want to do the right thing, but fear for their jobs in the backlash.

Region Council emails are here. Happy activism!

No comments:

Post a Comment