[ LRT into downtown Brampton is a bad idea made for bad reasons]
Perhaps it might have a lot to do with my personal DNA and the fact that as an Aboriginal person, I have a great affinity for “our mother” ~ this earth that we inhabit. I get asked questions that pertain to nature and environment a lot and am happy to hear and watch a new generation of young people who wish to put priority where it rightly belongs; priority (or at least sincere attention) is being afforded to the environment instead of the financial bottom line. I happen to know that the two are indelibly intertwined. In fact, everything is connected to Mother Earth though, for years/generations She was secondary.
Which brings us to a long boiling discussion about Light Rail Transit (LRT) envisioned to run north and south from Port Credit on the lakefront along Hurontario (Highway 10) and onto Main Street in downtown Brampton. I have long questioned the logic of that $1.6 BILLION investment because (a) no one yet has produced a credible needs analysis that supplies proof that the north/south LRT will either reduce grid lock nor address east/west traffic flow; (b) that forcing the LRT into the downtown core area will have adverse effects on various heritage buildings such as fine old churches etc in the core and (c) it does not explain to my satisfaction that Mertrolinx has paid one iota of attention to the transit priorities of Brampton. Those priorities (defined five years ago) had (i) mass transit on Queen Street (east/west) as a the top priority; (ii) 24 hour GoTrain service as the second priority and WAY down the list was a notion of north/south LRT.
It is not a secret that Mississauga Mayor Hazel MacCallion is finally not seeking reelection. It is also not much of a secret that Hazel is likely to become the new head of . In typical Hazel fashion, she has put Mississauga’s interests before Regional interests. Brampton interests never have been and never will be high on Hazel MacCallion’s priority list. When the Provence announced that with the help of Federal funds, there was money to be spent on mass transit in Peel, Hazel grabbed and Brampton was left in a tizzy trying to deal with the northern terminus of the LRT line.
Every developer and urban planner knows that residential intensification (more people) happen at terminus points on an LRT. In MacCallion’s case, the southern terminus (along Lakeshore Blvd.) represents an area in need of renewed development. In Brampton’s case, I would suggest (below) that the forced terminus in the core of Brampton will in many ways take away options. Which brings us to a question recently asked by one sincere young Brampton politician who advocates north/South LRT and (like many others) is frantically attempting to find a way to facilitate it by routing the LRT line along the Etobicoke Creek which is a flood plain. . It is perplexing why any logical person would attempt to purchase a pair of shoes that are too small only because they are on sale. There is no way that size ten feet will comfortably fit into size eight shoes.
When we attempt to manage nature by way of retaining walls or culverts, we create inherent problems. As example, Etobicoke Creek once meandered through downtown Brampton. There was actually once a bridge across Main Street near the old “Court house. After the 1948 flood which was enormous, the Canadian Army Corp of Engineers was called in. The present day “Diversion” was created. The Diversion consists of the concrete culvert/trench near the Four Corners Library and various “flood plains” (low laying areas left intentionally undeveloped so as to handle over flow downstream of the concrete structure).
I suggest that, in many many ways Brampton is among the cities in Canada that nearest resembles the “8 and 80” City concept already. Vast expanses of those low lying “flood plains” have been adapted to park lands: some left in natural state while other parts were used to create an enormous north/south bicycle path network. I am unconvinced that Gil Penalosa is, in any way suggesting that “one size fits all” models apply to all cities nor that LRT is an ideal fit. Making a vibrant downtown even more wonderful would be more likely by situating a university right in the core (much like the U of T arrangement). The re-gentrification by way of a campus in the core of Brampton would create a 24-7 pedestrian community and result in a rebirth of the entire downtown core area. However, I suspect that by way of bad planning – a university (of any type) will likely be located on green-fields (undeveloped lands) only adding to the storm water management problems and the answer to those questions about the flood plains and Etobicoke Creek are upstream. The reason for the diversion and the flood plains is that storm water is unable to saturate a predominantly clay soil base in Brampton is result of ground cover (roofs, parking lots and roads) up stream that limits or restrict saturation after a major storm.
As an Aboriginal person, I have learned that when we live in harmony with Mother (earth) we thrive and when we attempt to outsmart and manage such things, we simply transfer one problem to a different place (up or downstream) – the development process of a community is a continuum – it has neither beginning nor end. In Brampton’s case, it is what it is and future changes are pretty much dictated by past choices (either good or bad). Not for me to say if those past choices were either good or bad – they simply point out collateral problems and should be instructive for future choices…. You will likely get your north/south LRT and may well rue the day you wished for it. In many ways, it will limit the opportunities to situate a university in the core area and cause us to increase covered land that presently exists North West of Brampton where most of the water courses originate. Thus, the legacy of bad choices causing more bad choices and a legacy of new problems created for another generation.
You will hear much talk from politicians and developers about LRT in the next 5 or 6 weeks. Ask them about this.