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TOPIC: comments on Phase 2 DTNR study and recommendations

[presented to Region of Waterloo committee on Nov. 16, 2004]

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the final recommendations of DTNR.

1. Background:

Almost 5 years ago I volunteered to be a member of the Public Advisory Committee of CARSS with the role of representing the viewpoints of non-mechanized modes of transportation. As a PAC member I attended all public meetings and even presented some brief comments about the community need for multi-modal transportation planning. But this morning, I present the views of a private neighbourhood resident about the DTNR report.

One of my most vivid positive memories about the CARSS process is from a public meeting. At that meeting residents from the Cedar St and St. Andrews neighbourhoods clearly stated their transportation concerns. These ordinary residents were neither organized, nor persistent at that point or later in the process – they had been invited to express their concerns for the record and so they did. But to what effect? And in the long run did their participation have any lasting impact on transportation politics in Cambridge? If you look at the DTNR phase #2 map, it would appear their voices were lost in the evolution of CARSS into DTNR. And now, in a similar fashion, I find myself expressing my neighbourhood concerns about your recommendations.

2. Neighbourhood context

You may or may not know that I included demographics in my courses at Preston High School. PHS was one of the few schools in the county to fully experience declining enrollment around 1980 that was caused by the baby bust …. Preston High ran out of students. Simply stated, PHS had no new subdivisions to bolster enrollment declines caused by a lower birth rate. My neighborhood has not and will not experience any significant population growth. And yet according to DTNR recommendations, King St; Fountain St. and Eagle St. N. are currently major centres of traffic congestion, with worse yet to come. And yet, if local growth was not the source of the congestion, then why is there a ‘traffic problem’? What are the sources of congestive traffic flows?

Here are my thoughts:

The basic cause is almost 30 years of transportation infrastructure neglect. And the harsh reality is that this neglect is in part a consequence of an almost 30 year spat or blame game between Cambridge and the Region. Councils argue with each other and nothing gets done.

Correct me if I am wrong:

a very large manufacturing industrial park has been created north of 401 - a matter of civic municipal pride and economic benefit

with about 24% of the Region's population, Cambridge has about 45% of Regional industrial assessment and that translates into heavy traffic flow

BUT not a single new road link from south of 401 for the thousands of daily workers and hundreds supply trucks has been constructed

No new road routes have built to divert growth related traffic changes from the King St. (highway 8) corridor route. Here is a brief quotation from a 1974 highway 8 review report:

The need for a new Highway 8 route was confirmed as a result of the first stage of this study. Without it, transportation needs by 1991 would clearly require widening of the present route through the city to four and six lanes. Failure to meet these needs would lead to severe congestions, the use of residential streets and intolerable levels of community disruption. (p. 2 "Highway 8 Review Cambridge to Kitchener, August 1974)

DTNR presents no data for Speedsville Rd. despite its new role as road link to the industrial building north of 401. So why widen Eagle St. N. to 4 lanes? Where will the increased flow go, or how will it disperse? Does it matter that a newly widened King St. is only 1.6 km to the west along Eagle? Does it matter that Concession Rd is already 4 lanes wide?

In reality, DTNR has no choice but to propose projects for Fountain St., King St., Shantz Hill and Eagle St. N. at Speedsville Rd. that will attempt to remedy decades of neglect caused by bad political decisions. Bottom line, more lanes, more lights, all with the goal of funneling more traffic through this area? And what about the implications for us, the locals? Any mention of possible problems: noise, smog, or local access to parks, etc.

3. Final comments:

The DTNR report does not mention the impact of constructing 220+ apartment suites with associated automobiles at the corner of Eagle St. N. & King St. Is it possible that this new source of traffic flow will affect congestion? Both Cambridge and the Region have as their goal an increase in the population density of core areas. So would it not be helpful if DTNR maps identified all areas for slated for future reurbanization?

DTNR phase #1 recommended that Cambridge "undertake on Official Plan and Zoning review to develop land use plans that reduce the current and future need to cross the Grand River."

[a] Is this recommendation still valid and when will it be implemented?

[b] Is the success of any portion of the DTNR report contingent upon OP changes by Cambridge?

You and I understand that a very large percentage of Cambridge’s population knows little or nothing about the nature and impact of these DTNR recommendations. But that situation could be remedied. The widely distributed 'Fall 2004 Environews' shows how in a similar format and pattern of distribution, your DTNR information could be given widespread exposure. Why not create a colourful multi-page flyer that would outline your plans and their implications. I know about E-waste, Dual Flush toilets and Express Transit Services because of the Environews. Why not use this low tech method to spread the word – surely your plans are every bit as important as E-waste and dual flush projects. With the aid of readable maps and clear explanations, tell us a what DTNR will mean between now and 2011: the what and the where. Because in the long run it is my lifestyle that will be affected.

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Thank you   Bob McMullen     November 16, 2004