Saturday, May 24, 2008

If suburbs want light rail, they'll have to earn it

One day after the city's transit committee agreed to support the much-discussed Transit Option Four, they added a special note for any suburban constituents or councillors hoping for expansion of the light rail tracks outside the Greenbelt: you'll have to prove that it's a worthy investment by demonstrating greater demand and higher population density. Surprisingly enough, this was brought forward by Kanata North Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, as recommended by Deputy City Manager Nancy Schepers (from an Ottawa Citizen story):

"What it says is that if you are serious about intensification and get the numbers of people needed to make light-rail expansion work financially, you will get light rail. If not, you won't get it," said Ms. Schepers, who is responsible for the city's planning, transit and environment files. "It provides the incentive to embrace true smart-growth principles."
Very gutsy move by Wilkinson, but it's an obvious attempt to encourage forethought when making planning decisions--not just for transit, but also for zoning and future development.