Figuring out what a Transportation Master Plan should recommend is no small task - and you want to get it right the first time - Part 2 of a series

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 9, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 2 of a series

City council got their first detailed look at the draft of the Transportation Master Plan.  They didn’t exactly cheer when the presentation was finished – it is going to mean some hard political decisions – which this council tens to do its best to avoid.

The draft plan however laid out a number of realities the city has to face.  In the first of this series we set out the players involved in transportation planning and the rules, regulations and provincial policy that impact on decisions the city makes.

With those limitations – and they are not insignificant, the transportation department is beavering away at completing the study and aligning it with the Official Plan in order to support and expand upon new and updated policies.

While the transportation department works on its plan – the planners work on the review and revision of the Official Plan and a team at city hall, plus city councillors develops the Strategic Plan the city wants to work to for the next four years.

Mobility hubs

What also has to be added to the transportation mix is what role mobility hubs will play in future thinking.

The transportation people, led for the time being by Vito Tolone, are doing a solid review of transportation trends in conjunction with our changing demographics, travel patterns and future community planning. Part of the team is planner Kaylan Edgcumbe.

They are Identifying the transportation facilities and services that will be required to meet the needs over the next twenty years and then develop the policies, guidelines, plans and actions that will guide day to day transportation programs and provide a basis for future capital budgets.

That is a mouthful!

What is NOT included in the TMP is a detailed analysis of specific intersections and roadways nor will it consider site specific impacts.  Detailed assessments will be addressed through project specific studies and may be recommended as a result of the TMP

What happens if the city doesn’t complete the TMP ? Well, all hell isn’t going to break loose but over time things will stop working the way people want them to work.

Day to day transportation programs would not be current with community needs or emerging trends; Capital infrastructure planning and budgeting would not be able to address evolving development trends and growth management policies.

Council and staff would not be able to respond to changing development standards and major planning considerations.

Regulating agencies at the Region, Ministry of Transportation and Conservation Halton would not be apprised of Council’s transportation vision and its preferred strategy for moving forward.

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It sounded like a good idea at the time but there was too much that both IKEA and the city didn’t know about what Conservation |Halton and the Ministry of Transportation had to say about putting a large retail operation on the North Service Road at Walkers Line

Burlington ran into this problem when IKEA announced it wanted to move its location from Aldershot to the North Service Road at Walkers Line – that proved to be something that wasn’t possible given the views of Conservation Halton and the Ministry of Transportation. Tuck Creek was a significant conservation problem and the MTO couldn’t do what needed to be done with the QEW/Walkers Line intersection in time – which brought an end to any IKEA moved and put a significant dent in the careers of a number of people involved in the project.

Had there been stronger policies in place and a clearer planning vision, and better communication between the parties, a couple of years of grinding away at something that couldn’t happen might have been avoided.

Will a solid TMP avoid problems like that? Maybe – but what is clear is the need for a plan that fits into the requirements the province and the Region lay on us; that meshes well with the Official Plan and helps achieve the Strategic Plan – and is possible with the budget the city creates.

Council vote Dec 18-14 Water Street

Council members have to stand up and be counted – Councillor Meed Ward wasn’t with the majority on this vote

For all those people who think our municipal council doesn’t have a tough job, that they don’t work all that hard and it is really a part time job – think again.

This is hard work that requires the ability to think at several levels at the same time. Every member of the current council is challenged daily to keep on top of it all. Some of them don’t do all that well at it either.

The Transportation Master Plan study will:

Identify transportation policies and initiatives that are working in other areas that could be considered in Burlington
Ask citizens – where do we want to to go – how do we want to get there and how do we develop a solution that meets the needs of all residents.

Develop actions and policies that will guide day to day transportation projects providing a basis for future budgeting activities

So what is Burlington dealing with?
The infrastructure we have was designed for the car – what we have was designed to efficiently move the automobile and that has left us with urban sprawl. That urban sprawl is no longer sustainable

Population auto trips

Auto trips are rising faster than the population – building more roads will not get us out of this spiral.

90% of all trips in the city are by car

Levels of congestion are increasing; Commuting time is increasing; Cost to operate and maintain the current infrastructure is increasing; City revenue are not increasing at the same rate as growth or congestion.

This is not sustainable.  And we cannot build our way out of congestion

Modal share 2011The way we move around the community is heavily influenced by where we live, work and play. The way we travel impacts our quality of life, our health and relationship with our community

The majority of the trips are SOV – single occupant vehicle

To reduce congestion on our roads other travel modes must be available for both local and long distance travel.

Length of trips taken

Can those 2 km trips be made using a different mode of transportation? Is the car the only option? The current transit service is not going to coax people out of their cars and there are limits to how many people are going to ride bikes.

In 2011 over half of all daily trips in Burlington were 5 km or less. These trips could be easily replaced with walking, cycling or taking transit.

Where our workers livr

40% of the people who work in Burlington also live in Burlington – that means 60% of the working people use some form of transit

Where we work

Most of our residents work outside of the city – that represents a major transportation challenge.

Is the answer to all the questions that get raised in the data we have?  Because there is a lot of data.

Part 1 of the series

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