Readers of this blog will now know I have two thoughts on the LRT:
1. That it is a solution that only works once driving gets much slower and parking gets much more expensive. Everybody I have talked to behind the LRT eventually agrees, but assures me that when that day comes 5, 10, or 20 years from now, that I will be thankful we put in the LRT all those years ago. If we continue on our current growth path and do nothing, then I agree, but to me spending all this money so we can then sit back and wait for our miserable and congested future to appear doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.
2. That to get people out of their cars TODAY we need to concentrate development around a single node so that we can live, work, and play all within walking distance. This way we can keep the roads fast as we grow while also improving the quality of life. The key question is “how would you do this without government intervention?” I actually think there is a way, and that Waterloo is perhaps the only city in the world in a position to pull it off, but I will wait to share more.
But the key thing I have learned is that we have time. I had an hour meeting last week with Mike Murray, Waterloo Region’s Chief Administration Officer, where I asked what the risk was that budget overruns or reduced ridership could bankrupt our region. His simple answer was “we don’t know, because we haven’t gotten the DBFOM proposals in yet”. In fact, if those proposals come in too high, he said we will simply have to cancel the project, and that the trains will be returned at minimal or no cost. He was confident that the proposals would come in on budget, but it’s like saying you’ve already bought a house before even knowing what the final price will be.
So we have time. Time to come up with a better solution. One which won’t require us to sit by and wait for a congested and miserable future to appear, but one which will keep our roads free while also improving the quality of life in Waterloo. For anyone that loves this city, seems like a challenge worth taking on.