Improving Transit and Transportation
Posted 03 October 2008 - 08:36 PM
I’ve just returned from a memorable VIA Rail trip from back east, my fifth time weaving through the backyards of Canada by train; this time with a Grizzly bear standing along the tracks in Jasper Park.
Lying in my berth at night watching for lights of approaching towns and waiting for the haunting rumblings of passing freight trains, I got to thinking about a time before - when CN and CP train stations signified the heart of small and large communities. Before super-sized airports and congested freeways became our new way of “getting there.” Before road rage and urban density was invented.
I think it’s a shame our young people have missed out on knowing the simple pleasure of trains. Walking along tracks to school; hot pressing dimes on worn rails to show off to friends; and the unexplainable feeling of peace in the bubble car while studying the prairie night sky for constellations.
It was great to return home from the confused sprawl of Central Canada but there’s no denying that we are growing as well, and just as quickly. Statistics from the Victoria Real Estate Board show that we have an annual migration of at least 2,500 new residents - and the Western Communities will continue to experience the largest growth. But no matter where newcomers choose to live in the Capital Regional District, the majority will commute into downtown Victoria. Therefore I believe it would make economic and environmental sense to use the existing E & N rail corridor to bring folks from Sooke, Metchosin, Langford, Colwood and Esquimalt in and out of the city each day. It would address pollution, gridlock and the rising cost of fuel. Maybe even a commuter line out to Sidney and the Swartz Bay Terminal, instead of widening the Pat Bay Highway which will certainly become an issue before too long.
They have been doing this in Europe and in many major North American cities for decades; friends and co-workers car-pooling to the station and riding-the-rails together, doing crosswords, reading the morning news, or just enjoying the journey and the company of others.
With the upcoming civic election this November, I think we might expect to hear from politicians, planners and community groups who want to see such a timely project for our region. Just like the vision and hard work of our forefathers, who inched their way from coast-to-coast over 100 years ago so we could know each other as a nation, we need leadership that makes sense and connects us in a positive way as we plan for our future.
Posted 03 October 2008 - 09:07 PM
Living in Belgium, with a car, we still used trains to visit family and friends in other towns. It was part of the 'day out' - a 1/2 hour ride to Ghent from Brugge, friends are a short walk, through a nice market, from the station - good lunch with plenty of GREAT beer and wine - home back on the train. Safe, affordable, comfortable.
Posted 04 October 2008 - 08:56 AM
Downtown Victoria to get trolley cars in planned facelift
ANNE MULLENS. The Vancouver Sun
Jul 24, 1992
(Copyright The Vancouver Sun)
VICTORIA - Heritage trolley cars will clang along Victoria's downtown streets and a new car ferry terminal will be built in the inner harbor - it's part of a multi-million-dollar plan to renew the downtown area of B.C.'s capital city.
Announced jointly by the provincial government and the city of Victoria Thursday, the plan includes new shops, residential development and government offices where parking lots and temporary buildings now stand behind the legislature grounds.
The plan is being hailed by tourist agencies and business groups as just what's needed to spruce up Victoria's core.
"If they are going to put $250 million into downtown Victoria, we couldn't be happier," said Doug Fetherston, general manager of the Downtown Victoria Association.
Many of the details and planning have yet to be worked out - the final cost and how it will be shared between the city and the province. But Premier Mike Harcourt predicts the plan will save the government money.
"We are paying out ever-increasing rents in other facilities for our employees. . . by providing office space for our employees, providing affordable housing, it will actually save money. It will be a good investment of B.C. taxpayers' money," Harcourt said.
Among the plans:
* A heritage street-car loop that would link the neighborhood of James Bay, the inner harbor, and downtown, possibly including Chinatown. Finance Minister Glen Clark said the B.C. government already owns "at least one heritage trolley" and others can be bought in Lisbon, Portugal.
* Renovating and upgrading the derelict St. Ann's Academy and the Humboldt Valley to the east of the legislature buildings to preserve its heritage character and provide an "economically viable" mix of shops, business and public spaces.
How about this time we just do it? I would support this initiative.
"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"
-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail
Posted 04 October 2008 - 09:46 AM
Bob Cross (he of Cross's Meats on Douglas Street) rallied the downtown businesses by arguing that the streetcar would be a cash sinkhole, and drive up property taxes. When he became mayor in 1993, he killed the streetcar plan.
Learn from history or you're condemned to repeat it. But what's the lesson here? One might be that you have to vote NDP if you want rail. Another is that you have an uphill fight with downtown businesses if you propose anything that threatens to increase taxes and change existing traffic patterns. Similar arguments were used when the city proposed making Government Street car-free.
Posted 04 October 2008 - 12:41 PM
Another is that you have an uphill fight with downtown businesses if you propose anything that threatens to increase taxes and change existing traffic patterns. Similar arguments were used when the city proposed making Government Street car-free.
I like the idea of using street closures - and think it can actually be good for business, not to mention tourism and community spirit.
Having lived in two cities with pedestrian malls (Sparks Street, Ottawa/ Granville Street, Vancouver) I saw how they became attractions simply for being car-free. I realize both of those malls have decayed and are not working for the community anymore -but they did work well at one time. So location/use is an issue for sure. What do you think about trying Sunday closures for two blocks in Cook Street Village and along Inner Harbour Causeway to see how it goes? Then maybe in time businesses would see the value in closing two or three inner blocks during the week.
I think it would be a nice reprieve.
Posted 21 October 2008 - 05:18 AM
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