It took just one Brampton councillor to effectively delay a vote for a motion on the floor to accept the province’s LRT route by six weeks.
Councillor Michael Palleschi reiterated his support in principle for the LRT, but wanted one that would be suitable and acceptable for Brampton. He urged the delay and wondered why there was a need to rush into making a decision on Wednesday night.
The deferral vote passed and Mayor Linda Jeffrey looked peeved as she mentioned that prior to the meeting, she asked every council member if they needed more time. No one asked for more time, and then she was blindsided by Councillor Palleschi.
Brampton’s council is divided over the issue of the LRT routing, at least 5 of the 11 councillors have an issue with the proposed route that goes through a two kilometer stretch on Main Street which is flanked on either side by heritage homes going back to the 1850s. Alternate routes have been proposed but it would drive up the cost of the project and also increase the time it would take for commuters to reach their destinations.
The LRT will provide north-south transportation options along the Hurontario corridor from Brampton’s downtown in the north to Port Credit in the south, one of Mississauga’s waterfront villages. It will also provide key connections with GO Transit and Mississauga’s new transitway Â– Phase 1 includes the opening of four stations from the City Centre Transit Terminal to Dixie Station.
While in Mississauga the LRT issue isn’t contentious despite some council members notably Ward 5 Councillor Carolyne Parrish going on record to state that residents would be better served by a subway linking Square One to Toronto. While most councillors are open or resigned to the idea of having an LRT, some of them wonder if it made more sense to have a East-West LRT rather than a North-South. Mayor Bonnie Crombie is firmly behind the LRT project.
If anything, the LRT running up and down Hurontario Street would increase density along the corridor, more highrise condos would come up leading to more tax revenue.
In Brampton too, those in favor of the LRT talk about the economic benefits it would bring to its moribund downtown core which is struggling to attract more business and traffic to the area.
According to Binder Singh, a Brampton resident and community activist, the resistance to the LRT route running through Main Street comes from mostly the older residents of the city. The new residents see the economic advantages to having an LRT and the time saving advantage of having better and more frequent connectivity. “Many of those so-called heritage homes are so rundown that they need to be pulled down. Downtown Brampton will have more people visiting and will have a new lease of life once this LRT project comes,” he says.
Meanwhile residents who’ve traveled to Europe wonder what why all this fuss is being made in the first place. Europe which is packed with magnificent heritage structures and narrow streets have LRTs running through many neighborhoods and it doesn’t seem to have ruined anything.
In the end construction of the LRT project may well begin in 2018 if Brampton councillors can come together on this one on time. It is scheduled for completion in 2022 if all goes according to plan.