Tag Archives: region of waterloo

Transit and the 2015 budget: a letter to Regional Council

Dear members of Regional Council,

Over the past several years, transit has been squeezed to meet arbitrary cost-recovery targets. Now that GRT has achieved those targets, TriTAG is pleased to see that the proposed 2015 Regional budget does not include any more painful cuts to transit, but instead focuses on continuing to prepare for integration with ION light rail and adapted bus rapid transit service.

We hope that 2015 also marks an end to the sharp fare hikes of the last few years. As the Region develops its new Strategic and GRT Business Plans, it has the opportunity to set fare and cost-recovery policies to satisfy concrete goals for transportation, ridership, social equity, and the environment.  We encourage council to be proactive in considering these goals when deciding on fare and service changes. (more…)

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Photo credit: waldopepper on Flickr, 2012. Licensed under CC-BY-NC

More ways to make your voice heard

Democracy isn’t just for elections. Two weeks ago, we told you about how you can help the Region set its priorities for the next few years. But the Region isn’t the only one listening – there are opportunities to engage with your governments at all levels. Below are just a few:

Snowed out sidewalks

_ContentThumbnail1280X720Momentum is building for municipalities to clear sidewalks in winter. In yesterday’s Record, Professor Alejandro López-Ortiz made a strong case for snowplowed sidewalks.

You can lend your voice to the growing chorus by contacting your representatives through our councillor contact form.  You can also add your support to having sidewalk clearing (currently under the jurisdiction of area municipalities) considered as a strategic priority for the Region through the StratChat forum.

Provincial planning

The provincial government is also seeking input as it prepares its budget for 2015. They’ve set up an online forum where ideas for service delivery, investments, and efficiency can be proposed, rated, and discussed.

One idea we’d like to highlight is funding for #CycleON infrastructure. #CycleON is the province’s cycling strategy, but investment in bicycle infrastructure is needed to carry it out.

Other provincial surveys and public input opportunities:

Waterloo’s way

The City of Waterloo is also establishing its 2015-18 Strategic Plan. Visit Open City Hall to share your vision for the City.

In early spring, the possibility of protected bike lanes with Uptown streetscape redesign is expected to come to council. Let your councillors know this project has your support with our contact form.

Even more opportunities…

To stay in-the-loop on opportunities to influence transportation-related decisions, you can join our mailing list, subscribe to our calendar of public meetings, like TriTAG on Facebook, or follow TriTAG on Twitter.

Headline photo credit: waldopepper on Flickr, 2012. Licensed under CC-BY-NC.

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What are your priorities for Waterloo Region?

The Region is collecting public input for its 2015-18 Strategic Plan and conducting a service review. The choices made over the next few years regarding transit, active transportation, and land use planning will be important to the success of ION light rail and the livability of your community. This is your opportunity to weigh in and help shape the Region’s direction and investments.

The Region has set up a website called Strat Chat to collect input. On it, you can comment on or rate ideas, or suggest your own for topics such as transportation, your vision for the Regionservices that you feel merit greater investment, and many more.

One idea shared on the site that we’d hope you’d consider supporting is greater investment in frequent transit. This would make transit a more reliable transportation choice and increase ridership ahead of ION service. On snowy days like today, you may also want to consider whether having municipally cleared sidewalks is a good idea.

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Actual cross-section design for Manitou. Note the 0.7 m   buffers between bicycles and motor vehicles.

Fear-mongering and dirty tricks on Manitou Drive

TriTAG is concerned by apparently disingenuous tactics being used in an attempt to derail plans for Waterloo Region’s first segregated bike lanes on Manitou Drive.

In August, the Regional Planning and Works Committee unanimously approved the preferred design option for the Manitou Drive improvements, which would include sidewalks and segregated bike lanes on both sides of the road. The segregated bike lanes would provide continuity between planned bike lanes to the north on Manitou Drive between Bleams and Fairway, and with bike lanes to the south on Doon Village Road. They would also help to form an on-road cycling route between the Doon Village neighbourhood, the Trans-Canada Trail, and ION rapid transit. Presently absent sidewalks would provide safe walking space and would be essential to expanding transit service to the area. Final approval of plans for Manitou Drive is scheduled for the Regional Council meeting on September 17, 2014.

Flyers have recently appeared in the Doon Village neighbourhood, claiming that the committee-approved bike lanes would be “very dangerous” and “cause fatalities.” As an alternative, they propose no sidewalks and one multi-use trail on the east side of the road, to be shared by both pedestrians and cyclists.  These flyers, which call on residents to contact Regional Council members, contain several errors and exaggerations, as we will outline below. (more…)

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lrt-infographic-web-feature

INFOGRAPHIC: LRT is on the way!

What is LRT? Why is it being built? How will it affect the community? When and where can I ride it?

ION Light Rail Transit (LRT) is the solution Waterloo Region needs to manage our growth, connect our region, and ensure a prosperous future. After a decade of study and public consultation, it’s time to move forward, and time to get excited!

To celebrate ION coming up for its final formal approval and to consolidate some of the answers to frequently-asked questions, we’ve produced an infographic showing why ION Light Rail Transit is the best investment to move us around and shape our region’s future.

Look below the break for the full infographic.

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Where Will ION LRT Take You Video

VIDEO: Where will ION Light Rail Transit take you?

TriTAG supports Light Rail Transit for Waterloo Region because it will be the backbone of our entire transit network, and a vital part of our growth as one of Canada’s largest urban areas. This region is uniquely laid out to allow LRT to serve many destinations along the Central Transit Corridor, while two existing transit nodes will serve as strong anchors for the route. Sadly, there are a few people who still see it as nothing more than “mall to mall”.

But it’s so much more than that. Let’s take a look.

Here are some simple ways you can join us in support of ION light rail in Waterloo region:

iXpress loves you and wants you to be happy

GRT 2014 Budget Opportunities

Last night there was a public input session for the Region of Waterloo 2014 budget, following the release of the first budget draft. This is what we presented there on the subject of transit funding:

The Tri-Cities Transport Action Group believes that it is very important for the Region of Waterloo to continue on its present path of transit improvement. This requires investment, but not making that investment will be costlier in the medium and long term. Still, we recognize the difficult budget decisions that must be made. Therefore we commend staff for the recommendations before you, which have avoided cuts to investment that could jeopardize the momentum of, and confidence in, iON or iXpress.

While it can be disappointing to see proposed cuts to hours of operation and frequency on certain routes, we are heartened that route rationalization is a major consideration. We feel there are a number of other opportunities for change, similar to the kinds of network changes that have been made recently when iXpress routes are introduced.

(more…)

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Choosing a better land-use future

Transportation choice is inextricably linked to land use. When cities sprawl, the ability for citizens to freely choose their means of transportation diminishes as the number of trips requiring a car increases. If everyday destinations like home, work, retail, and leisure are located near each other however, it becomes easier to choose to walk, bike, or take transit between them. In addition, these kinds of places are much less costly to connect to each other with streets and transit than sprawled areas.

As renowned urban planner Brent Toderian writes, “the best transportation plan is a great land-use plan.”

In 2009, Waterloo Regional Council approved its Official Plan, a document outlining the shape of growth for our Region over the next 20 years. The plan encourages development to be mixed-use and to take place in already built-up areas, and limits sprawl over farmland by establishing a firm countryside line.

This plan has been appealed by a group of private developers who have benefited from previous sprawl-permitting policies. Earlier this year, the Ontario Municipal Board made a ruling in favour of these developers, requiring that the Region provide for more than 10 times as much development on new land (i.e. sprawl) than what was in its Official Plan. Essentially, the ruling forces Waterloo Region to provide farmland for another 20 years of full-speed sprawl, on the basis that sprawl is what the last 20 years looked like.

Waterloo Regional Council understands the threat this is to the Region and its ability to plan its own future, and has voted unanimously to appeal this decision in court. TriTAG applauds Waterloo Region for defending its progressive and responsible plan that would lead to greater transportation choice and quality of life for its citizens. It is vital that we citizens, through our elected government (rather than a handful of private developers), be in control of our own region’s destiny.

To learn more about the Region’s Official Plan and the Ontario Municipal Board appeal, visit smartgrowthwaterloo.ca

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Taxi licenses shouldn’t be further restricted

Below is a letter I sent to Regional Council on behalf of TriTAG. See the December 11 agenda of the Licensing and Retail Committee for the referenced report.

Dear Council,

We were dismayed to learn of the staff recommendation at Licensing and Retail Committee for the taxi-cab license ratio of 1:1650 to be reduced to 1:1850. This is based on an industry request and would result in the issuance of no new taxi licenses for approximately the next 10 years based on current population projections for Waterloo Region. It would be a setback for the urbanization and transportation goals of the Region of Waterloo.

The recommendation follows a request from the Taxi Association, which claims their request is the result of current taxi providers experiencing decreasing revenues, a situation which they curiously expect will worsen as the population continues to rise. They justify this concern by citing “newer communities such as Deer Ridge, Eastbridge, and Doon South [which] have 2 or 3 cars in the driveways,” concluding that “these areas do not use taxi service very much.”

However, thanks to the reurbanization policy in Waterloo Region, the next 100,000 residents to this community will live much more urban lifestyles than current residents in the Region do now. In fact, the Region is already making excellent progress towards its urbanization and intensification targets. Taxis are a vital part of urban transport and are important in ensuring that more urban and less car-dependent lifestyles are easy and enjoyable for residents. Restricting access to taxis at this point in time runs counter to the rest of the Region’s urbanization goals. Simply put, the next 100,000 residents to this community will be more likely – not less – to require taxi services than the 500,000 residents before them.

In order to support the Region’s urbanization goals, it is important to ensure that the barriers to entry into the taxi market are not prohibitive to new service providers, ones who will seek to compete in our rapidly urbanizing community by delivering innovations and improvements in service. Conversely, decreasing the per-capita number of taxis on the road only serves to restrict customer choice, and only benefits those who currently hold licenses by making those licenses an artificially high-priced commodity for those who are eager to enter the market. Reducing the taxi-cab ratios serves a rent-seeking interest of existing taxi companies, but does nothing to benefit the residents of this Region.

More taxis means greater competition, which leads to better innovation, and ultimately more and better choices for residents. The Tri-Cities Transport Action Group asks that the Region of Waterloo Council should disregard the Taxi Association’s request to reduce the taxi-cab ratio, in the interest of increasing, rather than limiting, transportation choice, and in order to continue to support its own densification and urbanization goals.

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The Week’s News

It’s Committee week at the Region, which means lots is happening. But first, two other things. Our almost-monthly pub night is tomorrow evening, and you should join us!

Today, the Ontario Coroner’s Office has released its Cycling Deaths Review (HTML / PDF). I have not read through it yet, but it is supposed to claim that all the cycling deaths it looked at were preventable. It also recommends a mandatory helmet law for everyone, which is deeply problematic if the goal is making cycling a safer and larger part of the transportation system. We’ll have more on this later.

Tomorrow is Committee day for the Region of Waterloo. Agendas are always posted here at around 4pm on the preceding Friday. Typically, most issues and reports go to initially to the appropriate Committee, where motions are made, to be finalized at the full Council meeting on Wednesday of the following week. (See Council agendas.) As the standing committees are currently composed of all the councillors, the decisions are effectively made at the committee level, with rare exceptions. (more…)

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