If somebody came here to read this site, they might think based on the comments that I am the only one opposing the LRT. And yet when I go out into the world I am always quietly approached with the opposite, with people saying how thankful they are that someone is speaking up. Why the disconnect?
It was only in a recent debate in the comments that it finally clicked: anyone pro LRT has the moral high ground. Of course we should drive less. Of course we should take transit. Of course we shouldn’t pave over our beautiful earth. Over course we shouldn’t pollute the air we breathe. Of course we should stop sprawl.
And so it is easy to attack, and hard to defend. Ted, can’t you see how wrong you are? Don’t you love the planet too? But no matter how warm and fuzzy the LRT makes us feel, or how proud we think we will be to look at it and say look how forward thinking we are, it won’t make one ounce of difference if nobody takes it. That is why I am opposing the LRT.
Driving in Waterloo is fast. There is almost never traffic, and parking is almost always free. This is one of the things I love about Waterloo: it is a city that never makes you wait, that never asks you to waste your time.
But one day as Waterloo grows this will all change. Traffic will build and parking expenses will grow. But at that point, our city as a technology hub is already done. We will be just like every other big city, except we’ll have all of the disadvantages but more (same congestion, worse transit) and some of advantages but less (less restaurants, less culture, less parks, less everything). Why would anyone choose to live here?
I believe in Waterloo because I believe in UW. I believe that co-op at UW has created the smartest, most ambitious, most experienced technology new grads in the world. That nobody can touch a technical grad from UW. Not someone from MIT, or someone from Stanford. But if our city becomes just like every other city but less, we will lose them all.
If we want to build world class companies here then we need a world class city. The way to do that is not to put in a trolley and say ha, look what we built! The world will simply laugh. Instead, we need to do something different. We need to be bold. We need to accept that the world is changing, and that the rules are changing. We need to be like UW, offering education but with co-op. Or like RIM, offering a PDA but with wireless email. Because otherwise we will become just like everyone else but less.