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Yappa Ding Ding: LRT in Waterloo Park

This used to be a line of mature trees, a bit of grass, a pretty railway line alongside a wide path… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: LRT in Waterloo Park

Yappa Ding Ding: LRT in Waterloo Park

This used to be a line of mature trees alongside a pretty railway line. Now there is a hideous raised rail bed of gravel, structures every 50 feet that look like power pylons, and a long impassable chain link fence dividing our once-lovely park in two…. . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: LRT in Waterloo Park

Yappa Ding Ding: Berlin Wall in Waterloo Park

Back in 2011, the Record asked me to write an op-ed about the LRT (link). I outlined my major problems with the LRT proposal, including: “Waterloo Park will be sliced in two by trains. It seems likely a fence will be required, especially since the tracks border a children’s zoo. This will leave the park . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Berlin Wall in Waterloo Park

Yappa Ding Ding: Berlin Wall in Waterloo Park

Back in 2011, the Record asked me to write an op-ed about the LRT (link). I outlined my major problems with the LRT proposal, including: “Waterloo Park will be sliced in two by trains. It seems likely a fence will be required, especially since the tracks border a children’s zoo. This will leave the park looking like postwar Berlin.”

That reference to the Berlin Wall caused a big kerfuffle. LRT supporters claimed I was being hysterical: there would be no fence; in fact, the tracks would roll through grass in an attractive way and enhance the park setting.

This week it was announced that there needs to be a fence along the tracks in Waterloo Park and that it must be at least 6 feet high. This completely cuts the park in two. Add to this Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic’s concerns about unsightly substations that will line the route to power the transit system, and postwar Berlin is starting to look pretty accurate. I wish I had been wrong.

It just breaks my heart what the LRT is doing to Waterloo Region. In the first place, it’s too expensive – so expensive that it will suck all the air out of any other initiative for decades. (Just look what RIM Park did to our budgets, and it’s a drop in the bucket of what LRT will end up costing residents of Waterloo.)

The route is ridiculous – going through Waterloo Park and the UW campus instead of heading straight down King Street North where a huge density area has developed. I am absolutely certain that the only reason the Powers That Be chose the campus route is that they need students to up their ridership numbers – even though student riders don’t add one dime to revenues. Students are young; they can take the bus. The aging population – and the growing problem of impoverished seniors – is totally a non-issue for the people who forced the LRT on us.

During the LRT discussions I met with many politicians and staff members. It was beyond frustrating to be constantly met by lies, obfuscation and stonewalling, especially by Waterloo Region staff. They totally poo-pooed my concerns about traffic on Park Street, but now Thomas Schmidt is casually quoted in the Chronicle as saying that traffic police may be required at Park and Green after the LRT is built.

I went to just about every public forum on the LRT, and witnessed first hand that the public was lied to. In surveys, about half of local people supported the LRT; few people showed up at the anti-LRT rallies I helped organize. But people are going to be mighty unhappy once they see what they were tricked into.

Oh, one more thing. There’s a perfectly reasonable solution to the fence problem. For the short distance that the train passes through the park, have it go slow. Presto-besto: no fence is needed. Freight trains have gone through the park for as long as it has been a park, and we never needed a fence BECAUSE THEY GO SLOW. I wrote Waterloo’s mayor about this and he said he’d pass on my email to the LRT planners, but I know from sorrowful experience that they won’t listen, not even to the Mayor of Waterloo – these outsiders who aren’t elected and don’t even live here want to save two seconds by running fast trains through “the Jewel of Waterloo”, so we’ll just have to live with a Berlin Wall that slices our park in two.
. . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Berlin Wall in Waterloo Park

Yappa Ding Ding: [Not] Solving Traffic Problems in Uptown Waterloo

I attended the Uptown Traffic summit last week. It was a success – over 120 people, lots of careful consideration of the problems that were posed.

In the promo for the summit, Ward 1 Councillor Melissa Durrell said, “When I was going door to door campaigning during the election, traffic was the Number One concern.” . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: [Not] Solving Traffic Problems in Uptown Waterloo

Yappa Ding Ding: Conflicts of Interest, or: Be Careful What You Wish For

There were a lot of raised eyebrows over conflicts of interest claimed by local politicians in the LRT decision. For example: The driving force behind LRT, Regional Chair Ken Seiling, spent nearly a decade ramming LRT down our throats and then claimed a conflict just before the final debate. His children own property near the . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Conflicts of Interest, or: Be Careful What You Wish For

Yappa Ding Ding: The Future of King Street

I spent the weekend in Toronto, and this morning I needed to head cross town in my car. I decided to take St Clair, thinking it would be quicker. Those days are gone…The recently-completed St. Clair LRT, like other Toronto LRTs, is very different fro… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: The Future of King Street

Yappa Ding Ding: More concerns about LRT

Four skilled individuals (planning, Engineering, and legal), all of whom live locally, put together this list of comments about the proposed LRT.K-W is a city of 350,000, not a city of 729,000, the number that is always quoted regarding the Regional po… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: More concerns about LRT

Yappa Ding Ding: Lack of credibility, the Region, and LRT reports

Chair Jim Wideman and Members of Planning and Works Committee have released the long-awaited LRT report, titled Preliminary Preferred Rapid Transit Implementation Option and dated April 12, 2011.There is no nice way to say this. The report is another e… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Lack of credibility, the Region, and LRT reports

Yappa Ding Ding: The Region’s LRT ridership estimates: pie in the sky

The figures for other cities are from Wikipedia. This analysis was done by Dave Ramsey. Dave’s conclusions:The estimated daily boardings of 56,000 in 2031 are overstated by at least 40,000.Just like every city in North America with a population of less… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: The Region’s LRT ridership estimates: pie in the sky

Yappa Ding Ding: Negative impact of LRT on the City of Waterloo

I wrote a little report on some concerns I have about what LRT will do to the city of Waterloo. You can download it here. (Click the file name LRT_impact_on_Waterloo.pdf at the top.)Upate: I expanded the report so that the Waterloo city impacts are jus… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Negative impact of LRT on the City of Waterloo

Yappa Ding Ding: Support for light rail trains gets a boost

During the recent public consultations, the Region distributed a survey that could be filled out on paper or online. It listed 11 options: nine were forms of LRT, one was BRT on dedicated lanes, and one was no rapid transit.The Region has released the … . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Support for light rail trains gets a boost

Yappa Ding Ding: World of debt

In last month’s “State of the City” address, Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran said that “finances remain the city’s biggest challenge, with a $5-million dollar debt over RIM Park still to pay off”, according to local news sources.Not long ago, five milli… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: World of debt

Yappa Ding Ding: Questions about rail plan go beyond money

My article in the Record today:Questions about rail plan go beyond moneyIn his April 1 community editorial board article, We’re More than a Collection of Taxpayers, Sean Geobey dismisses the community’s objections to light rail transit as a cynical… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Questions about rail plan go beyond money

Yappa Ding Ding: Unknown Costs of LRT

We don’t yet know the Region’s preferred option for LRT, so we don’t have final estimates of capital costs or the increases to property taxes. But we know it will result in hundreds of millions in costs to Regional taxpayers.Recently, it has beco… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Unknown Costs of LRT

Yappa Ding Ding: Downloading LRT Capital Costs

I have heard that the Regional LRT plan includes a lot of downloaded costs to the municipalities where LRT goes – Waterloo and Kitchener. Apparently this came out at a recent meeting of Regional Council. It was one of those situations where staff made … . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Downloading LRT Capital Costs

Yappa Ding Ding: Cambridge: Getting Screwed and Dodging a Bullet

On her blog, Regional councillor Jane Mitchell completely poo-poos any concerns of Cambridge residents that LRT won’t extend to their city. She describes Cambridge as a bunch of whiners who had terrible transit when it was their responsibility, who don… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Cambridge: Getting Screwed and Dodging a Bullet

Yappa Ding Ding: Rail transit will not solve urban congestion

I have another guest column in the Record today: Public will never give up their cars. It is printed along with an article by Tim Mollison of Tri-Tag: Rail transit an answer to urban congestion.While I thank the Record for airing the debate, I’m not th… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Rail transit will not solve urban congestion

Yappa Ding Ding: The "New" Rapid Transit Proposal, Part 2

The proposal is here: Region releases report on Rapid Transit Implementation Options.A few weeks ago, Regional Council voted to instruct staff to consider a bus rapid transit (BRT) option. The report presents 11 options, nine of which are LRT and only … . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: The "New" Rapid Transit Proposal, Part 2

Yappa Ding Ding: The "New" Rapid Transit Proposal

Only a few weeks after regional council voted to reconsider the BRT option, the Region has released its “new” transit proposal: Rapid transit implementation options.Is it new? No. The report provides a dizzying array of 11 options, nine of which are LR… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: The "New" Rapid Transit Proposal