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Bob's blog

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Community trail building  involves more than trail design and construction: neighbourhood issues, environmental concerns, project funding, old fashioned NIMBYism, and general political support. But there are additional "local public issues" that concern me as a resident of Cambridge, Ontario.

So, in keeping with the current use of blogs to express personal opinions, I have decided to share some of my "public" statements and presentations. By and large these concerns focus on trails, transportation and planning issues here in Cambridge. Perhaps you have had similar experiences in your particular jurisdiction?

The origin of the public involvement can be traced to 1974 when it was proposed that the road in front of my house be widened to 4 lanes and connected to a proposed bridge over the Speed River. On the bright side, we would have been able to sell burgers & fries from our bay window, if Eagle Street had been widened to remove the lawn. And that is when it all started. At a public meeting held  to explain the project, I recommended mounting an audio tape player and speakers on a flatbed truck. Then we would drive the truck up and down Eagle Street playing the recorded sounds of 4 lanes of arterial traffic over the speakers. And in that way, we would let residents "know" what was planned for our neighbourhood. However, one of the project planners said that my plan would violate the noise by-laws.
And what is worse, he did not even understand the irony of his statement. And so that was the origin of my community activism.

ITEM #1: Back to the issue of the proposed highway 401 pedestrian bridge, or as one Regional Councillor  recently described the proposed structure as a butt-ugly chicken coop. In my humble opinion, we can only afford a cheap and functional design. 'Pretty' may look better, but we cannot afford anything but functional. Now that it is constructed, the expensive "pretty feature" does not work, and is a relative was of money. Of course, the extra $500,000 did not come out her pocket, but rather that of tax payers.

ITEM #2:
The trails committee was established to advise Council on issue related to trails and bikelanes. This 2002 presentation to Cambridge Council is one of many that I have made to gain the political support necessary for the actual construction of facilities. Although a municipal government may support trails "in principle", this does not mean that actual funding and legislation will be provided in any given budget year.

ITEM #3:
Comments to Waterloo Regional Council about Phase 2 of the Cambridge roads plan (DTNR). Cambridge is part of Waterloo County and we therefore have a two-tier system of municipal government: local and regional councils. In brief, Cambridge Council has rejected any proposed road system that would include building new bridges over the Grand River. Thus, the Regional transportation planners were forced to produce a NO BRIDGE transportation plan for Cambridge. This link will take you to my presentation at Regional Council (2004)  about the final project recommendations for reducing traffic congestion in Cambridge: phase #2 DTNR comments. See also my Cambridge Mills comments.

ITEM #4.
I would like to use sidewalks/trailway as another illustration of the fact that "planning is politics, and politics is planning". What starts out as a comment on the lack of a grid based system for road design in new subdivisions, eventually relates the issue to a specific issue.