GO Kitchener-Waterloo & Guelph

Mark Dowling passed along a link to the presentation materials from the recent GO Transit EA meeting in Kitchener.

You can follow the story of GO service from a Kitchener-Waterloo perspective on the GOKW Blog.

One of the fascinating points about the proposal for this corridor is that it recognizes that this line has bidirectional demand, as well as local demand that isn’t going to downtown Toronto.  This has always been the case, although VIA has done the worst to discourage people from using their service.

Intriguingly the track plans in the display materials show a substantial increase in VIA service in the future.  Those of us who travel to Stratford will relish better service, but the real bread-and-butter on this line is the traffic to and from universities.  It’s always been a natural corridor for better service, and maybe, finally, we may actually see it.

Also worth noting is the idea of eventually moving Kitchener Station so that the line will make a good connection with the planned KW LRT line.

Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered

[Originally published in early January 2009]

As many of my readers know, I was fortunate and honoured to win the Jane Jacobs Prize in 2005 for my long-standing advocacy of transit improvements in Toronto.  This was the last year the prize was awarded while Jane was still alive.

I remember, warmly, sitting beside her on the stage with other prizewinners, John Sewell and David Miller as Jane spoke so warmly of our “new Mayor” (Miller), but scathingly about the dysfunctional Planning Department so dominated by the suburban, North York mentality.  Paul Bedford, then recently-retired as Chief Planner, was in the audience nearby and in her sights.

A documentary on Jane Jacobs will appear on February 18 on TVO.  Here is their press release.

The View From Here:
Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered – World premiere

Airs on TVO Wednesday February 18, 2009 at 10 pm.  (Repeats Sunday February 22 at 10:35 pm and Wednesday morning — i.e., late night Tuesday — February 25 at 1 am)
52 minutes

Produced by Bliss Pictures Inc. in association with TVO, Knowledge Network and SCN

When Jane Jacobs died in 2006, Canada lost one of its loudest and most persistent urban voices. What Jacobs advocated is well known: short blocks, mixed-use buildings and diverse neighbourhoods. Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered considers the livable city: an issue that directly impacts the quality of life of the majority of the world’s population.

The documentary examines the champion of neighbourhood activism’s legacy, through two redevelopment disputes: one in New York and the other in Toronto. These disputes raise many of the same issues Jacobs encountered 50 years ago. It also looks at Vancouver, a city frequently put forward as a shining example of Jacobs’ livable city philosophy.

The documentary asks “Is Jane Jacobs’ legacy intact?” and, more to the point, “Is it still valid?”

Ontario Parks

This morning, Premier McGuinty announced that, with the generous assistance of our friends in Ottawa, we are about to see a boom in transit spending.  On parking lots.

About $175-million will go to expanded parking at 12 GO Transit sites, half of which will receive parking structures.  This marks a reversal from the “we won’t build structures because they’re too expensive” policy of many years.  Moreover, it does nothing to address capacity on trains nor on the local transit systems that many GO riders use to reach those trains.

Metrolinx may be working on a regional plan, but this announcement sounds like an echo of the days when commuting meant driving to a parking lot.  Yes, we can build it quickly, but is this what we should be doing with transit infrastructure dollars.

Lurking down at the end of the announcement, almost as an afterthought, is $75.5-million for the Hamilton Junction grade separation.

It appears that the cost of these projects will be shared 50/50 by both governments.