Rally for Rails II a Success

(Photo by Andre Recnik.)

Rally for Rails II was fantastic! Thank you to the 250+ people who came out to Rally for Rails II and stayed despite the rain. And a special thanks to everyone who spoke, who helped us with organization, equipment, and setting up — and to those who have donated already. (It isn’t too late to help out!)

Andre Recnik has some excellent photos of the rally, and there is media coverage so far from The Record, CTV, and The Cord.

Make sure your Regional Councillors have heard why you support LRT, and consider sending a 200-word (maximum) letter to the editor to your favourite local papers.

This Wednesday, June 15, Regional Council is expected to finally vote on moving forward with rapid transit. The meeting will start at 7 pm at 150 Frederick St, Kitchener. Join us there to watch history in the making for Waterloo Region, and to show your support. (See also the Facebook event.) If you can’t make it, the meeting should be broadcast on Rogers TV and those in attendance will hopefully be livetweeting using the #LRTvote hashtag.

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Broad Support for Light Rail Plan

We’ve updated and expanded our page of supporters of Waterloo Region’s LRT proposal, with links to specific statements where we could find them.

Many businesses and organizations of all kinds have come out in support of the staff-recommended Rapid Transit plan. At the bottom of that page we’ve also added a section listing organizations that have come out against the plans – it turns out to be a very short list!

If we’ve missed any organizations or endorsements, please let us know.

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Brochure Distribution

We have about 7,000 brochures that need to get out the community before next Monday. Here is a map of what volunteers have covered so far: http://goo.gl/maps/RVuG . Can you put 100 in mailboxes around your neighbourhood? Do you live in a 200 unit apartment building? Please be in touch with us *now* at volunteer@tritag.ca ; brochures are available for pickup downtown near KPL main branch, or we can deliver to you between 8pm and 10pm on weeknights.

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Tuesday Morning Links

Planning for Car-free Sundays: Planning is well underway for making portions of King Street in Kitchener-Waterloo free of cars for four hours on four Sundays this summer — the first of which is June 19. The Record and Open File have coverage of the plans in general. If you want to help out, today there will be an meeting on planning events, organizing volunteers, sponsors, and so on. It will be from 4pm to 6pm at Council Chambers, 3rd floor of Waterloo City Hall, 100 Regina Street. There will also be a volunteer orientation and sign-up session on Tuesday, June 14. There is also a Facebook page for the Car-free Sundays events, which have been branded square2square.

K-W Chamber supports LRT…: The Greater K-W Chamber of Commerce offers conditional support for LRT. There is coverage from 570 News, CTV, and The Record, but there doesn’t appear to be a press release available. Basically, the K-W Chamber supports moving forward with LRT, but wants there to be due diligence in the design, construction, and phasing.

…but Cambridge Chamber doesn’t: The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce wants Waterloo Region to adopt a full Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which they say would be “fair and equitable”. It isn’t, however, an option that has any whole-hearted support in any of the cities.

Cambridge Council isn’t happy, wants gadgetbahn: Cambridge Council doesn’t want to pay for an LRT-based system if Cambridge doesn’t get LRT in the first phase, and it wants a referendum on the plans. (The Record) Cambridge Council also wants the Region to postpone making any decisions in order to study a gadgetbahn technology that has been getting local hype. The full Cambridge-for-Aerorail motion (page 5 of the meeting agenda) is, frankly, embarrassing. In The Record piece, Councillor Nicholas Ermeta claims a referendum question could be on the provincial election ballot in October, which is false; by law, the vote could come no earlier than 6 months after the question is set. Councillor Frank Monteiro says a referendum would cost only a million dollars, which is misleading since the inflation cost of waiting translates into at least a $10-15 million impact on the cost of the project.

Regional Councillors’ election quotes: Jeff Outhit of The Record tries to demonstrate or create conflict between politicians’ campaign promises and current stances on LRT. The piece features quotes from our own candidate questionnaire. Councillor Jane Mitchell responds on her blog.

And…: Why LRT makes sense to City of Waterloo Councillor Karen Scian. The Dearlove on the connection between transit and equality of opportunity. The Record wants long-term thinking about roads. A column by Kevin Thomas of GREN – Rapid growth requires rapid transit. Letters: Corner-lot resident thinks the city should be cleaning its own sidewalks; Mayor Halloran should do her job and make an LRT decision instead of asking voters to do it; A referendum is a recipe for gridlock; Don’t cheap out, build LRT all the way; Before supporting a referendum, Regional Councillors should ask themselves two questions.

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Saturday Morning Links

Poll shows support for LRT: The results of another public opinion poll were released on Friday. The poll was commissioned by Machteld Faas Xander and carried out by Angus Reid Public Opinion. It shows broad support for rapid transit and LRT (with concern for cost), but perhaps most importantly it shows that a large majority is more willing to support candidates that vote for LRT. Detailed results are available and worth reading, and both CTV and The Record have coverage. 570 News also has a story, as well as discussion on the Gary Doyle Show with Alison De Muy of Machteld Faas Xander.

LRT public meetings popular: Over 100 people have signed up (The Record) already to speak at the Rapid Transit public meetings at Regional Council on Tuesday and Wednesday. A memo from the Regional Clerk in the June 1st Council meeting agenda suggests that Council restrict delegations at the June 15th meeting to those who have not spoken at the public meetings, to allow Council time to engage in debate prior to the final vote.

Weak support for referendum at Regional Council: While Waterloo’s Mayor Halloran has continued talking about her referendum motion (570 News), at this point more Regional Councillors are against holding a referendum on LRT than are for it. (The Record) The Globe and Mail discusses the idea and referendums in general. CTV explains the process, timeline, and costs of a referendum (second video).

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Friday Morning Links

Public workshop on a K-W Spur Line Trail: Waterloo Region is beginning planning for a multi-use path alongside the railway tracks from uptown Waterloo to near the VIA Rail station in Kitchener. There will be a workshop on Thursday, June 9, in Kitchener. (The Record)

The cost of road maintenance: Terry Pender reports on the poor state of repair of the road system, and that $590 million would be required to get them all into shape. Maintenance costs are driving municipal staff to provide for other transport modes, but elected officials don’t carry all of that through. The local costs of roads far outweigh the cost to build LRT. (The Record)

Official launch for Breithaupt Block: Yesterday there was an official launch (The Record) of the redevelopment of the former industrial buildings composing the Breithaupt Block in downtown Kitchener. This will be an office complex not unlike the Lang Tannery, and will be directly adjacent to the planned intermodal transit terminal at King & Victoria.

Press for Rally for Rails II: There is some print media attention (The Record) to Rally for Rails II, which will be on June 11. Over 140 people are already listed as attending on the Facebook event.

School board and active transport: Take the Lane reports that the Waterloo Region District School Board has adopted an Active Transportation Charter.

Township mayors and the LRT vote: Terry Pender reports on where the 12 remaining Regional Council members likely stand on LRT. Five are likely in favour, three or four are likely against, and the three township mayors may prove decisive. Councillor Jane Mitchell says that if Mayor Brenda Halloran’s LRT referendum motion passes, that she will call for a referendum on the $1.5 billion in road expansion that are deemed to be required without rapid transit. That compares, of course, to the $253 million that is currently Waterloo Region’s portion of the light rail project capital costs. (The Record)

Kitchener council’s public meeting: Last night the City of Kitchener held a public meeting on LRT for people who live or do business in the city – even though Waterloo Regional Council is the body making the decision, and not the city. Five of the 11 members declared conflicts of interest. After hearing Regional and City staff presentations, Kitchener City Council heard many delegations in support of LRT (The Record), including the CEO of Desire2Learn, a developer of the above-mentioned Breithaupt Block, as well as Tim Mollison on our behalf. Perplexingly, 570 News writes that “the reaction was fairly mixed” despite reports being that of the 22 delegations, 15 were in favour of LRT, and only 5 were against. After hearing delegations, the council voted 4 to 1 in favour of a referendum on LRT – a nearly meaningless gesture from a minority of a council which is not responsible for Regional transportation decisions.

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LRT Referendum Round-up

As everyone knows by now, Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran tabled a motion for the June 1 meeting of Regional Council that calls for an eleventh hour referendum on the Rapid Transit project. This post collects links to some opinion and coverage of the subject. We think it is a terrible idea for a number of reasons, many of which have been lucidly explained in the first three links below.

570 News’ Mike Farwell explains why Council should not allow itself the distraction of a referendum.

The Record forcefully argues against a referendum.

Blog post by Cameron Dearlove against a referendum – Leaders Lead While Politicians Dither.

Here is the rest of the referendum round-up, not including letters to the editor:

The $27,000 Ipsos-Reid poll commissioned by Taxpayers for Sensible Transit asked people about support for the Region’s plans, then re-asked after providing cost estimates without context or explanation. After those questions, people were in support of a referendum – without being given any information about the costs thereof. [The Record]

CTV also has coverage of the poll.

Ipsos-Reid has a press release as well as the more interesting detailed questions and results (PDF).

The Waterloo Chronicle does want a referendum.

Brian Bourke’s column in the Waterloo Chronicle argues against a referendum.

Paul Bedford, the retired Chief City Planner for Toronto, says Waterloo Region should stop the years of talking about LRT and just build it.

David Gibson, CEO of a company doing urban development, argues for leadership, decision-making, and for Regional Council to go through with light rail.

Regional Councillor Jane Mitchell explains why she is against the referendum.

The Cambridge Times has quotes from several Councillors about the referendum idea – Claudette Millar is in favour of one, while Sean Strickland and Jane Mitchell are against. Elsewhere, Jim Wideman and Carl Zehr have voiced opposition to this referendum idea.

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CALL NOW – 14 Hours Left To Speak Up For LRT

If you haven’t registered to speak at Regional Council on Tuesday or Wednesday evening next week, now is the time – the Regional Clerk’s voicemail is open 24 hours a day at 519-575-4420, and the deadline for registration is in less than 24 hours – 12 noon on Thursday, May 26.

Even if you just get up, introduce yourself, say that you want your Regional Councillor to vote in favour of LRT and sit right back down, every delegation counts.

Please call 519-575-4420 now and leave your name, number, and your wish to delegate to Council about Rapid Transit.

The meetings available for delegation are:

Tuesday, 31 May at 6pm
Wednesday, 1 June at 4pm

If neither of those dates and times work for you, please let the clerk know and they may arrange another time for you to delegate.

Both meetings are in Regional Chambers, which are easy to find inside 150 Frederick Street, Kitchener. Please call 519-575-4420 now (yes, even at 2am) to register.

See you there!

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Be Heard on Rapid Transit!

The Rapid Transit vote is only three weeks away. Make sure you have your opinion heard!

If you haven’t done so, add your comments online to the final round of public consultations by May 27.

This Thursday, May 26, Kitchener City Council (which is not voting on Rapid Transit) will hold a public meeting about the subject. If you live or do business in Kitchener, please consider speaking there.

On May 31 and June 1, Regional Council (which is the body making the decision) will hold public meetings about Rapid Transit. The registration deadline to be added to the agenda is May 26 at noon. More information is at the project website.

And at the risk of repetition: Write a letter to the editor in any (or every!) local paper about LRT. Write to your Regional Councillors. And on June 11, plan to attend Rally for Rails II!

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