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City Building

Posted in Canada, Community

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Published on July 02, 2015 with No Comments

One of my favourite movies is a 1989 classic called “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner playing the role of a farmer from Iowa, who hears a mysterious voice in his cornfield whispering, “If you build it, he will come.” The farmer, Ray Kinsella, interprets this message as direction to build a baseball diamond on his cornfield. Neighbours stop to watch and heckle as he plows under the corn. For a while nothing happens and then one hot summer evening several deceased Black Sox ballplayers from the 1919 World Series team arrive and begin practicing and playing on the field.
City building is similar to building baseball diamonds in Iowa, it frequently requires a leap of faith and a vision. Where one person sees an opportunity others are so cautious or suspicious they delay – thus missing the chance to participate.
Last October the voters, gave this new Council a strong mandate to do things differently and I know that each of my colleagues wants to make the right decisions that will help our community reach its full potential.
Upon becoming Mayor I immediately re-engaged with senior levels of government on Brampton’s transportation and transit needs. While the Province was deliberating on what to include in their budget I spoke to the Premier and various Ministers of Brampton’s need for a game-changing regional transit and transportation plan.
Office of the Mayor
In April the Province announced their intention to FULLY fund the Hurontario-Main LRT and to expand and enhance GO rail service in Brampton.
By publically committing to make these investments – most specifically to fund the Light Rail Transit the Province has potentially saved the taxpayers of Brampton $100’s of Millions in costs that other cities like Ottawa and Kitchener are funding through property taxes.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that must be seized, otherwise we potentially risk losing it to another community.
Every day tens of thousands of Bramptonians commute out of our city to work, shop and play in neighbouring municipalities. This daily exodus reinforces the stereotype that Brampton is a “bedroom community”.
Brampton has been and continues to be a great place to live. Unfortunately I, and many Bramptonians have never felt our downtown has kept pace with the times. It has been neglected and the numerous boarded up storefronts and lack of customers is evidence that our downtown requires our immediate attention.
Successful cities all have dynamic and accessible downtowns with vibrant parks and exciting public spaces. Brampton’s downtown can and should be a magnet that becomes a destination for people to shop, dine and be entertained.
Brampton has a lot of the qualities that define a world-class city – safe, clean and livable; our education system; our parks and ravines, and our diversity. All these components are important to attract investment. But without addressing the serious traffic gridlock we face and the inability to get around our city we are robbing families of time together and increasing the cost of doing business in Brampton
The Hurontario – Main LRT will lead to a downtown transit mobility hub, Two-Way, All-Day GO rail service to our downtown station, integrate with Zum and Brampton Transit and will be the lynch pin of potential investment, economic growth and employment.
A regionally integrated transit system represents one of the best investments for job creation. Where cities have built up transit
infrastructure there has been increased investment resulting in jobs for local communities. It has also allowed for greater choice in jobs by offering a simple transit commute versus a long and expensive car trip.
Today LRTs are found around the world. In European cities they pass through historic streets and squares providing residents and tourists alike with a seamless transportation network that alleviates traffic, congestion and environmental impact.
In Canada, cities like Calgary and Edmonton have operated LRTs that pass right through their downtown cores above ground for years. The City’s planning and transportation experts are in agreement with Metrolinx that this proposal will serve the needs of our community both today and tomorrow.
Yet there are those who are critical and feel we are somehow getting a poor deal from the Province. To those critics I assure you that we have achieved a far better deal than I ever could have imagined – much sooner than I could have imagined too.
The Hurontario-Main LRT has the potential to be a game changing initiative that will revitalize our downtown and our city’s future, but it is not the only solution.
The new LRT will give us the necessary edge we need to compete with the Region of Halton should Council decide on an urban based campus for our university. Higher order transit will be necessary to help move the anticipated 10,000 students and staff to a new university campus that we are aggressively pursuing with the Blue Ribbon Panel.
In the coming years we as a City will be lobbying strongly for the full implementation of the Metrolinx Big Move plans for Brampton, the first being a Queen Street transit line which ultimately will connect downtown Brampton to the Viva Bus Rapid Transit project on Highway 7 in York Region.
We face many challenges in the months to come but in these challenges lie the seeds of opportunity.
While we will frequently hold different points of view, and debate about what’s right for Brampton going forward, it’s absolutely critical that we always remember our ultimate goal: to make Brampton stronger.
As a young and rapidly growing city we need to look ahead to a future filled with potential, job growth and economic prosperity. Following the vote on July 8th I will continue to work with Council and our community to find solutions and raise the bar to rebuilding the foundation necessary for our collective future success.
Ray Kinsella’s story is one that touches on the theme of the fulfillment of dreams – I hope that on July 8th Brampton City Council will collectively seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to transform our City and our downtown. This is only the first of many decisions we will need to make and I will be voting in favour of the HM-LRT funding offered by the Province of Ontario which will help us set us on the road of building a better Brampton.

 

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