It’s no surprise that the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan was one of the biggest stories of 2017 here in London. In following the news or just in conversations I’ve had at the “water cooler”, it seems that there really isn’t a lot of wiggle room…you either love the idea or hate it.
Yesterday morning, a new anti-BRT group surfaced by covering trees with caution tape along the proposed BRT routes. The group that called themselves “Up Shift’s Creek”, was upset about the loss of these trees and other property when the city prepares the land for the new transit plan.
If you’re like me, you may be a little late to the BRT party…so here is a bit of a recap to help make sense of yesterday’s events.
- The $500-million bus rapid transit plan was given the official name “Shift London” last year.
BRT is about connecting people in #LdnOnt with work, school, appointments and activities faster, while increasing transit ridership and helping manage congestion. This is how Ontario is investing in the largest infrastructure project in our city. https://t.co/XdgEfGuasx— Shift London (@ShiftLdnOnt) January 15, 2018
- Downtown business owners created “Down Shift” to voice their opposition to the plan with lawn signs and funding a poll.
- A pro-BRT group called “Shift Happens was created in response to Down Shift to promote the need for increased transit in the city.
- Supporters or London’s BRT plan got a big boost last week when the Provincial Government announced $170 million towards the plan. The City also committed $130 million through development charges and is hoping the Federal Government will cover the remaining $200 million…but no word has come about that yet.
Today we have 170 million reasons to be happy! We're THRILLED by this massive investment by the Province – it shows the Province’s confidence in our vision for making transit better for ALL Londoners. Thanks @StevenDelDucan & @Deb_Matthews for sharing the great news with #LdnOnt pic.twitter.com/kLZOXMmbuy— Shift London (@ShiftLdnOnt) January 15, 2018
- Yesterday was the first public display of a new group “Up Shift’s Creek.” The group seems to be upset about the impact on local businesses.
- Michael Maguire of Mortgage Wise Financial on Wellington Road went to one of the public meetings in December and saw his business on the map “I’ve had no say. I went to a meeting to find out what was going on and looked on a map and saw that they had put the road over top of my property.”
- Another area of concern is the environmental impact. The City of London estimates between 60-80 trees will be cut down on Wellington and 70-180 trees on Richmond north of Oxford.
Looking ahead, councillors will have to decide whether some routes should have four or six lanes. Expanding to six lanes on Richmond would severely restrict front lawns for many homeowners.
There are two public information sessions on Wed Jan 24th at the Central Library for anyone who wants to have more details on the plan.
In March, city council will be asked to go ahead with the final phase of the environmental assessment.
Keep listening to 980 CFPL for the latest regarding the BRT plan.