A transportation master plan - what will it do for us and why do we need it?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 9, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 1 of a series

Planning is making sure that all the pieces are in place before doing anything. Before that you have to be sue you know what all the pieces are.
The key document is always the budget – that tells you what the costs are and where the money is going to come from. It will be coming from your pocket – but then you knew that.

Municipalities are creatures of the province – they set the policy and municipalities work within that policy. Cities have to adhere to Regional policies as well.

The population of the country is growing; people gravitate towards the larger cities – Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver – you name it.

The province told the Region of Halton – you need to grow your population by a million people by the year 2041. The Region takes that number and divvies it up between Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills.

When Burlington gets its number we have to ensure that our policies allow for that kind of growth.

The developers are very aware of the policies and they bring forward development proposals that meet the policy.

Masonty Court proposed site plan

The top part is the plan for 300+ townhouses, the bottom is the “thinking” for apartment buildings that would be in the 5-6-7 storey range for a development in the west end of the city walking distance from the Aldershot GO station.

Thus you get the ADI Development Group going to the city and saying they want to put 300 plus homes out on Masonry Court – and try to convince the city that the project meets all the rules – the biggest of which at this point in time is our need to intensify.

That need to add to our population bothers a lot of people – they want things to remain just the same – they like it the way it is. The one thing everyone can be absolutely certain of is this – nothing is going to remain the same.

There will be more people, there will be more traffic in Burlington. For those who don’t like the growth – they can move further out into the country; that’s just a hard fact we all have to live with.

Burlington has to figure out how it is going to handle all those new people who want to drive their cars on streets that weren’t built for the volume that is coming our way.

Burlington is developing a Transportation Master Plan (TMP) that city council was given a peak at a few weeks ago.

The plan, which is some distance from complete sets out some of the realities the city faces – one of which is a decision made in the 90’s not to make Fairview a seven lane road.

In the lengthy presentation that set out a lot of facts – some of which the public is not going to like – the transportation department also offered up some idea. Get used to hearing the phrase “complete streets”

What is the Transportation Master Plan? It is a blue print that will be used to guide planning and implementation of a future transportation system, that is to be guided through the development of a sustainable, balanced transportation system.

The goal is to have a transportation system that is convenient, affordable and efficient – one that provides choice and allows residents to travel whatever way they please.

Traffic barriers in place on LAkeshore for the Car Free Sunday last year were expensive and not really used.  The event was poorly attended.

Traffic barriers in place on Lake shore Road  fora  Car Free Sunday.

That sounds very nice doesn’t it? – travel whatever way they please – hard to do if the road you want to drive on is clogged with traffic.

All this thinking loops back to the city’s Strategic Plan – what do we want ? What can we afford and how do we do all this and keep taxes at a level that are bearable?

The transportation department and the planning department are working together to produce a document that will give both city council and the public some choices.

One of the more immediate problems for Burlington is that we don’t have a Director of Transportation nor do we have a Director of Planning – which should be telling you the tax payers something. Why don’t we have these people in place today?

The former Director of Transportation decided that he wanted to try living in a different part of the country – he was ready for a change so he took a transportation job in Halifax. Same kind of job – just in a different city.

The former Director of Planning came to the conclusion that it was time to retire – that may not have been just his decision.

The city is without significant leadership in two critical departments and we are working with a city manager who is still figuring out where his bench strength is – truth be told – there isn’t all that much bench strength. James Ridge, the city manager, is down to a single General Manager who is stretched pretty thin at times.

Background links:

The ADI Development in Aldershot

The opening of the King Road underpass

To be continued…

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