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My GO Transit includes a regional bus system

13 May 2015
By Debbie Zimmerman, St. Catharines Standard

Do as I say, not as I do is an interesting statement often attributed to those who publicly promote a more liberal approach to issues but practice the opposite in their private/professional lives.

Not my words for sure but a pretty good assessment of why GO Transit will remain a hypothetical dream for Niagara following the most bizarre and recent actions of Regional council, which approved taking “no action” on creating a simple, single integrated transit system for Niagara.

This decision was voted on at what I am loathed to call a “business planning session” last Thursday night. No business was considered or conducted.

It is hard to reconcile the actions of those regional councillors and regional chair who a mere week ago were trumpeting the need for GO transit for Niagara. It was the photo op of the day as the mayors of St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and the regional chair climbed aboard a GO train armed with a $225,000-plus, GO transit or bust strategy for the province. Wow I thought, finally we might just get GO!

Ah but l, like all good citizens, know the euphoria of politics is always short lived.

It should be made very clear that regional council, in presenting options through its business plan, to the province of Ontario, included a commitment to create a seamless regional transit system.

This would mean creating a single fare box and an integrated model.

It wasn’t a real tough decision to make but obviously too tough for councillors to discuss at a “business planning” meeting and obviously such an onerous and weighty subject they couldn’t understand the simple strategy regional staff presented on undertaking the necessary steps to get the job done.

Let me translate: regional council voted to do nothing, or in political spin put the decision “on hold.” Thank goodness for the sage wisdom of Coun. Bruce Timms who flatly stated having regional transit “is important to the argument for GO rail for Niagara."

No kidding! Take a look around Ontario at regions like Waterloo who are similar in both geography and population. They have had regional transit and GO trains for years but more recently took the bold step to create a plan for high speed rail to connect their communities.

Not surprisingly, the region of Waterloo voted to dedicate 1.5% of the tax levy to transit, and also includes additional transit costs in development charges collected. This co-operative approach has garnered $300 million from the provincial government but even less surprising the 2017 light rail project has caused the region to revise their population forecast upward to reflect the projected growth.

It is hard to contemplate how regional council can admonish any member of provincial parliament or the province for failing to do its job when this region won’t take any of its own business planning advice.

“Do as I say not as I do" pretty much sums up another lost opportunity for all of Niagara and her citizens.

Oh and by the way “My GO Transit includes regional transit.”
Last Modified: May 15, 2015 11:57 AM
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