Well, less than 2 weeks left. I should start my “taper” but I’m too nervous.
The Brampton Bruin has been busy for over a year now. Publishing his thoughts, observations, criticisms and compliments in relation to Brampton issues.
However, as the election season is now upon us, it has been decided that it would be inappropriate for this blog to be active while people are actively seeking office.
Depending on how the election turns out, we may see you again in November.
Till then, thanks for reading along.
The Brampton Bruin
In honour of the mayor’s recent attempt to stall Mattamy from building a rental building in a location where a Condo couldn’t sell enough units to be built, I thought I’d share this Brampton Bruin post from earlier this year.
Six years is a long time
Yes, I get worked up about the Mayor and her constantly bringing up the LRT Vote. Even I get tired of it. And people have been asking me “Bear*, why are you so mad? Who cares if the Mayor brings up the Main Street route in every conversation? It’s not like it’s hurting anybody.” *Only my mom calls me that: not just a fact, also a warning!
Ya, I could let it go. I don’t need to rant and rave and write blog posts about it. I could enjoy my life, and my privilege, knowing that the decision doesn’t affect me in the slightest (I live near Gateway, so I’m getting LRT either way). And while, basically that is true, there are some hard lessons I’ve learned in my life. One of the biggest? “Never forget where you came from, you may have to go back someday.”
Not so little known fact: I grew up in affordable housing. I grew up in a Co-op (props to my Mondragon homies! that one in Heart Lake that no one wanted to be built and people actively lobbied against). My family lived there from ’83 until around the time I finished law school in 2003. Affordable housing allowed me to grow and thrive in a safe environment, allowed me to work, study and begin my professional career. I owe it all to the little affordable housing project that nobody wanted.
What does this have to do our Mayor and the LRT? I am glad you asked.
The following is a screen shot from the Region of Peel’s website, taken just before I began writing this entry:
Six years of scraping by.
Six years of financial insecurity.
Six years of not being able to afford to live in your own home.
When I read that number, and I listen to the Mayor spend her valuable air time crying foul over a lost transit route option like its Brampton’s only issue (the alternative to which is just a slightly different route that will only 3.5 minutes of commuting time to a trip to Square One vs her *preferred route*), well, I’m sorry, I can’t help but get a little mad. After all, when I needed affordable housing growing up, it was there for me. What would my own life have been like without a safe and stable home to grow up in?
I won’t repeat what I’ve written here on the topic of leadership, but suffice it to say, when I say “Move On Madam Mayor” I’m not just being a bully, or a jerk, or a peanut gallery troll. I really do mean: Move On! Get back to work! Time to lean? Time to clean!
Let’s talk about:
- creating more Affordable Housing and improving access to, and management of, existing programs;
- expanding and improving the new Peel Memorial, and how can we grow it into an actual second hospital;
- making recreation and quality of life programs more affordable and more available
- reducing wait times and the bureaucracy that are keeping people from getting the supports they need;
- increasing spaces for specialized training facilities for our young athletes in Minor Baseball, Hockey, Gymnastics, Track and Field, Lacrosse, and other sports;
- increasing day care options, but traditional and those that support the shift work that many of our citizens work around;
- redesigning our roads to be bike and pedestrian friendly to move more people in more cost-effective ways;
- repairing our older community centres, library and community theatres to bring them up to code, and share in the unqualified splendour of facilities like Gore Meadows C.C.;
- protecting our vulnerable populations against violence, drug and sex trades;
- improve and expand our parks, parkettes and open public spaces to provide for healthy and active lifestyles;
- turning our attention to Official Plan amendments, Secondary Plan updates, zoning and redevelopment policies to foster and create spaces for all of these needs, both to incorporate our new provincial projects and to grow and expand our municipal programs.
The “people” I mentioned above are right about the anger part of things. Why bother getting mad? It doesn’t accomplish anything. But the conversation matters, and it needs to refocus itself on moving forward. Even if it makes people mad. After all, marriages don’t end when couples fight, they end when couples stop fighting.
The conversation about the Main Street option is over, for now, and it’s time we all start reminding our elected officials that we expect more from them then grandstanding over provincial projects. We expect City work done on City projects to benefit the whole city. Come 2018, when the politicos inevitably revive the LRT issue, let’s not allow them to turn the election into “One Issue” argument about Main Street vs. Kennedy Road. We deserve more than that. Be diligent in challenging every candidate, be it for Ward Councillor or for Mayor, to explain how they will actually tackle housing, seniors issues, child care, parks, cycling, crime, civic infrastructure, equity of city-wide spending allocations, and of course, health care. It’s great that people can get to Port Credit 10 minutes faster and all, but it hasn’t shaved a minute off the 6 year wait time for affordable housing.
Six years: Two years longer than you will be in office if you don’t roll up your sleeves and get back to work.
I’ll always remember where I came from, and I won’t let my locals candidates forget either.
Brampton has a lot to be proud of. But there is another side of Brampton too. There are tired properties, empty lots, abandoned facilities. There is rot in the City. Areas with no activity, no development, and seemingly, no plan in place to attract investment. This can seemingly be contrasted with the Four Corners, or “Downtown Brampton” as our city leaders and planning department like to think of it. Since 1991, Four Corners has seen tax dollars invested in:
- a New City Hall
- The Southwest Quadrant City Hall expansion
- The Rose Theatre (with annual subsidies)
- Downtown Development Corporation
- Downtown BIA (Business Improvement Area)
- Garden Square
- Garden Square Media Screen
- Arts Walk of Fame
- George Street Parking Garage
- Numerous Facade Improvement Programs
- Multiple GO Station upgrades
- Rosalea Park makeover
- Cultural Events such as Farmer’s Market, Santa Clause Parade, Christmas Market, etc.
In addition, the Four Corners is also seemingly “up next” for the next few rounds of investment: LRT Terminus station (pending route determination), Riverwalk (flood channel remediation), the Lane Realignments and parking removal project (name unknown), and just announced, the University of Ryerson & Sheridan Campus with associated Research and Innovation Centre. These investments will be hundreds of millions of dollars in the making. Meanwhile, areas such as Kennedy Road, McLaughlin Road, seem to receive no attention, no investment and there is very little in the way of publicly known plans for the future development or redevelopment of these areas.
So we are travelling the city, documenting the forgotten areas, the places “under the couch”, in the corners and the spots where the vacuums never seem to reach. Every location pictured is in public view, and no photos were taken through any act of trespass. We will try to capture the struggle of residents, business and land owners in the City, to show that people are running their lives and businesses and making the best of what is available to them.
In four years time, September of 2021, we will return to these locations, to assess the impact of the City’s policies. To determine if, in fact, the Game has been Changed, the Status Quo Disrupted.
The government can’t do everything, and it isn’t suggested that it should try. However, the government is in charge of planning, zoning, property standards, and tax policy. These tools are supposed to be used to increase the likelihood of success for residents and businesses alike. Areas can suffer for any number of reasons. And there is no attempt to diagnose why an area may be struggling. We just know that they are, and we hope the administration can adopt policies that encourage growth, prosperity and maximize the chances of success. By setting the conditions for prosperity, the government can shape the behaviour of private enterprise and investment, which in turn drives prosperity.
Are the investments in Downtown described above encouraging investment and development? By attempting to capture and measure, on the ground, the impact of its policies and the changes being made, we can have an honest, transparent discussion about the experiment that has been “Building a Downtown inside a Flooding zone, where two arterial roads meet and creating two bottlenecks therein, in the centre of an historical, previously fully developed, residential neighbourhood,” and we can decide if we are receiving a return on our investment.
We begin, however, with the Downtown, to look at thenlroverbial scoreboard early in the game, to how our investments have driven developments so far in the proverbial ground zero over the last twenty years of municipal policy.
Kennedy Road South
As one the alternative routes for the LRT running from Port Credit to the Brampton GO Station, there is a lot to be gained from a large scale rapid transit system that has historically and reliably encouraged investments within an 800 meter radius of the route.
Queen Street / Central Area Corridor
There is an ongoing transit study in this area. Queen Street is the highest route for transit ridership. There are many redevelopment applications currently being processed through the City. As the defined Central Area for our City, Queen Street narrows from 6 lanes at the 410 down to 2 lanes in Four Corners. An area with high traffic management needs on top of being the centre of the City (geography wise) certainly represents a balancing act for our city leadership to contend with.
McLaughlin Road North
McLaughlin is another potential road for our LRT from Port Credit. The former OPP lands have seen development and investment clustered around Queen Street. But the zoning along McLaughlin contemplates a number of mixed uses north of Queen Street, and in fact, north of where the LRT route would possible travel. Maximizing investment in the employment lands near the rail tracks would assist in elevating incomes and increasing standards of living for our residents.
Hurontario / Main Street
North of our downtown, Hurontario Street, Main Street and Highway 10 (all the same road) carries the mixed use zoning all the way north of Mayfield Road. Diverse uses for retail, professional offices, industrial, agriculture, all exist on this road. Is there a plan for this vital employment region? This route runs parallel to the Etobicoke Creek Trail. Is there a plan for this environmentally sensitive area to integrate it with our cultural and lifestyle expectation? Can we exploit and build upon the potential along this route?
Our East West link from Georgetown to Vaughan is a commuter’s nightmare. But like Main Street/Hurontario, it has a lot of employment lands along its length, and is the cornerstone for many residents to earn a living. One would be tempted to believe that the shear volume of traffic at Highway 10 and Bovaird would lend itself to a vibrant business and residential community. The area is a less than impressive, as though it has never decided if it is an industrial section, retail destination or residential neighbourhood. The area certainly doesn’t look as though it has been planned, zoned or thought about other than in the most piecemeal of fashions. Will a “Downtown” with a University bring sensible order to the area? Will the intersection receive the makeover that it desperately needs, with the empty lots being repurposed in a way that brings order to the chaos?