Monday, December 13, 2010

Doucet issues warning to Toronto

As new Toronto mayor Rob Ford appears to be embarking on a road eerily similar to that Ottawa took in the immediate aftermath of our last election, former city councillor and failed mayoral candidate Clive Doucet--long an opponent of the current transit plan and proponent of the cancelled north-south transit plan--has issued a strong warning to councillors in the city.

His guest column in the Citizen talks about the years--often decades--and incredible effort that goes in to forming transit plans, and the huge cost associated with cancelling projects that are just about to start, as was the case in Ottawa, or already underway, as is the case in Toronto. It's a terrific column and I recommend you check it out in its entirety, but here's an excerpt:

The young council in Toronto needs to pay attention to Ottawa because the individual political consequences for Ottawa politicians four years on from the initial rail cancellation were equally disastrous -- almost half the council either left voluntarily or were retired by the electorate. Councils need to
succeed and you don't get success by cancelling projects that are slated to change your city for the better.

If you think this is a rather extreme conclusion, consider this: If Ottawa now had a brand-new, light rail service from Barrhaven to the University of Ottawa in operation instead of $37 million
in cancellation fines and $60 million in lost investment; if O'Brien had finished his mandate by cutting the ribbon on that line and turning the sod on the new east/west line it would have connected to -- would he have been defeated?


The Ottawa experience proves it's not only expensive to cancel approved transit projects, the lost opportunities are even more costly. While Ottawa waits for the new transit projects to happen, it is becoming congestion city. The same will happen in Toronto.

All in all, a very interesting take from someone who, whatever you think about his politics, has a lot of experience a plenty of ideas on public transit and cities in the 21st century.

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