Referendum Over  LRT?? What’s Next?


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[A sign of Desperation]

The latest story coming from  Brampton City Hall has the mayor musing over the thought of a referendum to assist her in launching a Light Rail Transit route into Brampton via Main Street/Hurontario.

The very notion of attempting to finesse this wasteful use of tax dollars into downtown Brampton by even suggesting full scale referendum is wrong on so many fronts.

It is Not How Representative Government Works

We had a municipal election less than a year ago and elected a representative government.  The role of an elected government is to represent the constituents.  The decision to proceed is in the hands of council.

I am hearing different versions of how the final council vote will turn out.  I have heard numbers from 5-5 draw all the way to 2-7 (with one undecided) against the LRT on Main Street.  All of the best arguments have been made and heard.  The mayor may not like to accept that she has a single vote ~ but that’s democracy as well.

It is beyond belief that after council deciding to engage the help of a conciliator to break this log jam in council, that within short days we have the mayor trying to garner support for a referendum. For any conciliator to function, the various parties would be expected to enter into the dialogue with minds open to compromise. Failing that, there is no point to spending $50,000 (plus plus plus) for a conciliator. That money (spend on conciliation) would amount to burning tax payers money.

Given that the Mayor is EVEN toying with a referendum is more than ample evidence that she is intransigent and is insisting that things would either be her way – or else.

Conducting any type of election or referendum is a costly use of tax dollars.  I suppose I could ferret around and quote the exact cost of the last municipal election. I accept election costs as a required part of democracy.   The past by-election in Mississauga (for one ward) to refill Regional Chair, Frank Dale’s position eclipsed $1 Million.

For any referendum to be binding on an elected government it must show that 50% of the eligible voters support it. Last summer’s city election (even with all the notoriety) garnered less than 40% participation.  How wise is it even to suggest a referendum?

We will certainly have another “referendum” soon enough. In 2018 we will do the municipal election process all over again. Why can this mayor NOT accept public will and wait until then?

Construction on the Mississaugo LRT (AKA the Hurontario LRT) won’t even begin until 2018 and will be nowhere near Brampton’s border until 2020. They seem “hell-bent” to plough ahead with another white elephant similar to the gas plant fiasco.

Give Conciliation a Full Chance

The mandate of this conciliator is to take our city council through the options – all the options including a Queen Street route.  The City of Brampton had long ago began planning ahead for a mass transit process along Queen Street. It seemed to have made sense to implement mass transit system for Brampton and one that placed Brampton benefits first. In fact, stretches of present day Queen Street were purposely built with concrete beneath the asphalt surface to facilitate the transition mass transit at some point in the future. There are vast amounts of undeveloped or underdeveloped properties along Queen Street that could evolve from abandoned car dealerships.

I can drive (yes car haters, I own and drive a car) faster to Square One (in Mississauga) than I can (from the Four Corners in Brampton) to Bramalea City Center.  It should be telling us that east/west traffic is our local problem. Anything that connects our “twin communities” Brampton and Bramalea would provide the most benefits to the 100’s of thousands of municipal tax payers upon whose shoulders on-going rider subsidies will fall. Unless, of course we are willing to make transit fully self sufficient.   My opinion could be changed when/if our transit systems all become fully self sufficient and supported entirely by the fare boxes. I suspect that the non-property owners would be much less enthusiastic IF it was all on their own expense.

We all know that is not likely to happen.

An east/west LRT connecting downtown Brampton would put mass transit right in front of the much promised Peel Memorial Hospital and in the east would be a hop-skip-and jump to the Brampton Transit hub near Bramalea City Center.  What is even more appealing is that an east/west LRT route along Queen Street (if ultimately expanded further east could connect with Toronto’s TTC subway network.

It is high time that those promoting the Man Street LRT run put aside their personal property interests and begin thinking as a community.  Front and center among the loudest proponents of the Main Street LRT project are individuals anticipating increases in their own property values.  Communities don’t work well that way.

Stop the misinformation and begin telling like it is. Metrolinx has never said it is either “take it or leave it” vis-à-vis the Hurontario scheme.  In fact, that same funding is likely to be made available for something much more durable and more beneficial to the folks in Bramalea,  The councilors from the Bramalea part of Brampton would do well to see that their constituents are well served. Those transit subsidies (estimated in the $10’s of millions annually) are a bad legacy for the folks in Bramalea.

A Referendum Leads to Even More Divisiveness

Tax payer money is quietly being used to promote the Hurontario LRT project.   It is much less than honest for the mayor to advocate a referendum without admitting that she would then rely on public funds to promote her choice.  It’s kind of Animal Farm-like to think that some animals are more equal than others. Could this mayor be contemplating spending public funds to win her day?  It is almost like being asked to buy the bullet to shoot one’s self in the foot.

Or Call the Vote Now!

If the Mayor insists on attempting to jury-rig the council vote, those of us who are fast tiring of the lobbying antics surrounding this entire fiasco would be best served to simply call the vote NOW if the present mayor is unwilling to play fair.

If the mayor feels so strongly or is being compelled to force the LRT along Hurontario, an attractive alternative to her referendum scheme would be to resign as mayor thereby causing a by-election at which she could seek election based on her insistence on the Hurontario LRT scheme.

Just a bit of common sense amid all the hoopla.

cropped-lloyd

Copyright   Thunderbird Rising 2015

 The above article is copyrighted.  You may use, copy or distribute this article conditional on attributing your source (Thunderbird Rising) and the author (Lloyd Fournier)

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