Referendums

Referendums can be both divisive and dangerous, and especially these days when truth telling and fact finding are all too often abandoned in argument. Media reporting and journalistic licence contribute to voter confusion, and individual voting decisions are easily swayed by the rhetoric of the charming and popular soothsayers and simplistic intellects, but who are usually uninformed and disinterested in outcome detail.

The latest example is “Brexit”, a foolhardy and rash referendum that has resulted in not only division within the population of Great Britain, but instability and uncertainty in the economy and financial markets around the world, a leaderless Government that must negotiate the divorce from Europe, and the possibility of a breakup of the country itself into independent units, much diminished as a respected powerhouse on the world stage.

I use this latest example to recall the outcry of some in the public eye in Brampton that a referendum should be held to determine the route of the LRT through downtown to the GO station. To their collective credit, saner heads prevailed, and the wish of many did not materialize.

But it brings up a very important point. Are elected representatives in Brampton to simply follow the opinions and wishes of the electorate, or are they elected to make decisions based on sound judgement and reasoned analysis, even if the decision reached is not always popular?

Perhaps the words of Edmund Burke, the intellectual father of British Conservatism, are worthy of remembering.

“Government and legislation are matters of reason and judgement, – and not of inclination. Your representative owes you not his industry only, but his judgement, and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion”.

Perhaps some food for thought.

Cheers,

Doug Bryden

July 4, 2016

DELEGATION – To Planning and Infrastructure Committee – City of Brampton – June 20, 2016

Chair Councillor Moore and Members of the Planning Committee

Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

This meeting today is one that we at CFBB have been awaiting for some time. For it is the meeting to have staff respond to the Motion from Council that instructed them to study and analyse three potential LRT routes through Brampton to the Downtown GO Station, and to report their findings and recommendations. This report was then to be debated by Council with the potential of arriving at a decision on a preferred route which, presumably would then be the subject of an Environmental Study, including public participation and comment.

This reflects, of course the democratic process, for it is the responsibility of the elected Councillors to make an informed decision based on facts and analysis presented by staff. It is not, nor should it be, appropriate to have staff take it upon themselves to make decisions which they are not authorized to do and which rightly belong in the purview of the Council.

In our view, that simple, straight forward delineation of responsibility between the elected and staff often seems to get muddied here in Brampton. It was altogether prevalent in the last Council with respect to the City Hall expansion. And it seems to be happening now on the LRT file, with staff having worked with Metrolinx unbeknownst to Council to support a Main Street LRT route which blindsided Council when the announcement was made last year. That route had been overwhelmingly turned down by the last Council in a 10-1 vote, and, of course, it was turned down again by this Council. Then upon instruction by Council to analyse alternative routes, staff again decided to recommend the Main Street Downtown route, this time as a hugely expensive tunnel, not taking into account the reasons why the surface route had been rejected. Once again, Councillors were blindsided – once again the route was rejected, and once again time, energy and funds were wastefully expended.

Council then issued a directive to staff to look at three routes only – McLaughlin, Kennedy, and the Etobicoke Creek route, and report back in April. As part of the overall study and analysis, Council asked for an opinion from the TRCA on the Etobicoke Creek route. That opinion very recently communicated was to not support the Valley route.

From a reading of the Report, it is clearly evident that staff decided to exorcise any analysis of the Creek route from their report back to Council, directly in contravention of their obligation to report on the viability of the route, and denying Council their right to debate the route.

In our opinion, what should have happened in this report was for staff to prepare a detailed analysis of all three routes as they had been instructed to do, noting the benefits, advantages and disadvantages of each, and as well, noting that the TRCA were opposed to the Valley route. Instead, staff simply made an unauthorized decision which was not theirs to make. In fact, there is no detailed analysis on either of the two remaining routes.

Had the three routes been properly debated by Council, Council may have reached a conclusion that the Valley route was a non-starter. But, they had every right to prefer that route, and decide by majority vote to approach the TRCA with a creative solution and emergency mitigation plan, potentially funded, which might have allowed a different answer from the TRCA.

The report, now made public in advance of the June 20th meeting, has simply not made any detailed analysis, but simply recommended that the remaining two routes both be subjected to an Environmental Assessment at considerable cost. Time again will be lost, and the community will be short changed. What were staff doing with their time in response to Council’s directive?

In our opinion, staff did not do the job expected of them by both Council and the public interested in the LRT route selection. Further, we are of the opinion that Council should have had greater oversight of this most important piece of Brampton infrastructure. But blindsided they have been once again, not knowing what direction staff was taking, and how they were organized to accomplish the task at hand.

It is time to remind staff of their responsibilities, and either change their attitude or find new people who will be creative, sensitive to the community and taxpayer, and treat time with a sense of urgency. We simply cannot continue to condone complacency and an undeserved sinecure of position.

Doug Bryden – Co-Chair – CFBB

Delagation for Planning and Infrastructure Committee Meeting –June 20, 2016

 

Good afternoon Chair Moore, members of the Planning committee, and fellow residents,

 

In the Fall of 2014 the previous Council rejected the Main Street surface alignment by a vote of 10 – 1

Last October, this present Council rejected the Main Street surface alignment route by a vote of 7 – 4.

Staff was instructed by this Council to prepare a detailed report for 3 preferred alignment options, the Etobicoke Creek valley, McLaughlin and Kennedy, so we could finally debate and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. So we could finally see valuable information like intensification opportunities, potential development charge and property tax revenues, more detailed costs and more accurate alignment options.

So what did staff do? They once again didn’t listen to this Council and re-hashed a previous report suggesting that the best option was a tunnel under Main Street costing anywhere from $410 to $570 million dollars. A tunnel option that faced the same obstacles as the Main Street surface route, like low ridership numbers, lack of intensification opportunities and no flood mitigation resolution. Thankfully this was unanimously rejected by this Council.

Mr. Pitushka was quoted at that same March meeting stating  Quote- “We need a plan. Everybody is saying this is a lousy report, but on the other hand it has stimulated some dialogue around the table.”

So here we are today, almost three and half months later reviewing, in our opinion, a lousier report!

A report that has no additional information from staff for Council to consider or debate. It’s a report that simply includes the lengthy TRCA Board response rejecting the valley route and includes a staff recommendation for Council to approve two costly EA studies of both the McLaughlin and Kennedy routes.

Don’t we have talented planners and engineers on the city payroll that can prepare a report with all of the information Council has asked for?

What are the costs and time frame for these studies? OneBrampton a group that still actively supports the twice rejected Main Street route had a letter published in The Guardian last week suggesting each route will cost a staggering $15 million to study. Back in March, staff had indicated that it would take $2.5 million to study both tunnel options.   So how much is it?    Will staff today accurately state whether we are looking at $2.5 million or $30 million to properly study two alternate routes? Can staff accurately state how long it will take before ANY Council will be ready to properly debate the merits of the two alternate routes?    Will there be more stall tactics to prolong and delay an alignment decision? Is that the goal by some individuals or groups? To stall and delay the selection of an alternate route so that a new Council will have to decide? We simply can’t wait that long!

What we should have had today was a report from staff with three accurate alignments, accurate costs , ridership projections, which route has the best options for a Queen St and northern expansion, and all of the advantages and disadvantages of each.   We should have been much further ahead than we are today. What we should have had today was a meaningful debate on all three routes. A debate that would help us get closer to a final alignment selection.

The fact that we don’t is unacceptable and only delays this process yet again. What this Council needs is to finally have all of the research and information, so a choice can be made between one of the two remaining alternate routes this year (McLaughin or Kennedy). So we can move forward and allocate the required funds in the 2017 budget and begin the EA process. Only then will we have a plan.   A plan that can attract the transit investment dollars this city deserves based on our population projections and stature within the GTHA.

We need to agree on a plan that can unite everyone, rather than divide, so this city can finally move forward on the LRT.

 

In addition I would like to state that CFBB welcomes last week’s announcement by Metrolinx and CN for reaching an agreement in principal to begin the planning and technical analysis for a new freight corridor. A new freight corridor that will allow CN to shift most of its dangerous and hazardous freight traffic away from Downtown Brampton and pave the way for true 2 WAY ALL Day GO service for all of our city’s GO stations.

We would also like to know how the public will be able to participate and provide input once an EA process has been initiated on a final route alignment.

 

Thank you.

Chris Bejnar

Co-Chair CFBB

 

Citizens for a Better Brampton

www.cfbb.ca

June 7, 2017

 

Toronto Regional Conservation Authority,

101 Exchange Avenue,

VAUGHAN, Ontario.

L4K 5R6

 

Attention: Ms. Maria Augimeri, TRCA Board Chair

 

Dear Ms. Augimeri:

 

Thank you for your detailed and fulsome response outlining the results of the Board decision regarding the potential use of the Etobicoke Creek Valley Corridor. While we are disappointed with the decision, we accept it, and now move on to consideration of the remaining two alternative LRT routes approved for analysis by City staff.

 

Our takeaways from the delegation experience and decision may be useful for future discussions:

 

1) It was made very clear that the TRCA own the land and had provincially mandated responsibility to protect the provincial interest on natural hazards and increased risk to life, property and infrastructure. No argument there, but the conclusion that the proposed LRT routing would be automatically detrimental to those objectives without assessment and analysis seems disingenuous and short sighted.

 

2) An earlier TRCA approval of an LRT route through downtown seems inconsistent with the reasons for the non-use of the valley route through that same flood plain. Fortunately, that route which would sacrifice Brampton’s heritage district, the foundations of its heritage structures, and introduce unsupportable congestion and traffic conflict has been taken off the table for all time by the present and former City Councils.

 

3) The TRCA are not obliged nor do they take into consideration the long term economic benefits that would arise for Brampton from well considered and environmentally responsible shared use of Valley lands which can be made to work in harmony with TRCA policies if there is the will to do so.

 

4) It would appear that creative and responsible use of public natural topography and environments, so evident in other communities and situations around the world, have no place in the policy directives of the TRCA.

 

5) The approval process for any potential shared use of TRCA owned lands is long and arduous, and in many cases convoluted and unnecessarily complicated. Partnering on any basis seems to be out of the question.

 

6) Given the absolute, unwavering and dedicated concern for the protection of life, property and infrastructure, it seems surprising that the completion of the Etobicoke Revitalization plan including cleanup and appropriate mitigation efforts has not been treated by the TRCA with any sense of urgency.

 

7) With respect to the Board depute experience, the immature and impetuous outcries and interjections from individual Board members (“lunacy”, “ridiculous” and “a past mistake”) was not only a surprise, but was disrespectful and intimidating to presenters who put forward a well-researched opposing point of view. Perhaps the appearance of undue arrogance of the Board should be taken under advisement. It was embarrassing.

 

Sincerely,

 

CITIZENS FOR A BETTER BRAMPTON,

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden,

Co-Chairs.