3 Observations from my trip to Newmarket

Observation No. 1 – I hate overhead wires

I have always advocated that Brampton needs to expand and upgrade its BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) network ahead of investing in the significant costs of a rail based network. I have covered the costs angle before, but there is also an aesthetic reason. Here is a view of the Spadina LRT line:

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I love Spider-Man, but J. Jonah Jameson’s got a point about the mess those webs leave behind!

To highlight why I find all this so unnecessary, let’s have a look at the Newmarket Busway Stop at Davis and Main Street.

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The sky is a beautiful thing. I personally prefer this aesthetic to overhead wiring.

Granted, the power lines in Kitchener are cleaner, more organized, and less obtrusive than the network of cables in Toronto. I admit that. I posted, not too long ago, a video of dashcam as I drove along the Kitchener LRT route. You can refer to it for a meaningful comparison of what the HuLRT will look like, which I refer to in the interests of fairness.  But it’s still more intrusive than no cables at all.

Observation No. 2 – I’m not crazy when I say we can separate our Historic Downtown

I noted in the past that Markham has a distinct “Historic Downtown” from it’s modern commercial “downtown” area.  Here again in Newmarket, I see the same thing:

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Just to drive the point home, the main intersection of “Historic Downtown”?

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A city can respect its heritage just as well, if not in a better way, by establishing a Historic Downtown with a view to sustain certain industries in that neighbourhood, professionals, bank branches, funeral homes, personal services, accountants, lawyers, realtors, land surveyors, appraisers, the local chamber of commerce, that sort of thing. Small (in scale, not importance) operations that service the community directly.  Who was it that makes up our Four Corners business community again?

But Newmarket’s Hospital? The Courthouse? The new retail districts? The Police Headquarters? These are located elsewhere, in the emerging commercial districts.

The separation of a city’s Historic Downtown can be used to establish a tourist area, a walkable neighbourhood, and a modest amount of entertainment and dining.

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(A pint of non-alcoholic lemondade on a hot day at the Grey Goat? Don’t mind if I do!)

 

Observation No. 3 – Higher Order Transit (HOT) does not mean instant gentrification

I didn’t take photos of the large and empty parking lot where I left my car, so you’ll just have to take my word on this one: at the corner of Davis and Main, there was a large and empty parking lot, even though that was a HOT stop.  What you can see in this photo, however, is the empty lot on the Southeast corner (Note: the aforementioned empty parking lot is behind that visible grey-roofed building).  Being at a HOT Stop has not magically transformed this intersection, which demonstrates (as we already knew) that the effects of HOT are limited by other factors, and routes need to be built in Transit Oriented Developments to truly bring realize their full potential.

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The busway is clearly having an effect on the way Newmarket is developing, but I submit this is because it is used as a planning and development tool among many other policy, zoning and planning initiatives, many of which were in place well before the busway came into being. The busway is an extension of those policies, and in other words, it was going to be necessary sooner or later based on how Newmarket was being planned and developed. Policies such as separating the Historic Downtown and building a new commercial corridor around more favorable geography for instance.

 

 

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