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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chebucto Road

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 at 8:06 AM

Residents along Chebucto Road will enjoy an extra dose of seasonal stress in the coming weeks—especially those in danger of losing their homes to the city.

They'll be waiting for HRM staffers to make them an offer on their properties, which, according to the city's manager of traffic and transportation services Dave McCusker, won't come until "hopefully early in the New Year."

Chebucto Neighbourhood Association president Kevin Moynihan says that community initiatives to fight the road-widening project have slowed since a one-year delay was defeated at council on November 20, but there is still some activity to report.

"We've been getting some pro-bono legal help," explains Moynihan. Association members have consulted lawyers to try and better understand expropriation law, and consequently find someway—any way—to delay the project.

And speaking of delay, word came last week that new Metro Link bus connections from Clayton Park and Spryfield may be delayed until 2012 because of budget restrictions. Seems like a particularly galling decision when placed side-by-side with the 1.7 million dollar price tag on the Chebucto project, which the city hopes to start as early as next spring.

Part of the budgeting difficulty is that the two new Metro Link routes are part of a broader expansion; the city is trying to put aside enough money for 24 new buses—some to serve as Metro Link shuttles and some to help feed the new service.

Wait—feed the new service? There are enough people travelling on Chebucto to justify a new reversing lane, but not enough to justify a new Metro Link route? Might we be the first to say, buh-whaaaaa?

Metro Transit spokesperson Lori Patterson breaks down the cost: "A new Metro Link route needs about 10 buses at roughly $400,000 per bus." City staffers have also been considering a new terminal to support the new service, which Patterson places at $3 million, and land acquisition.

So, when isolated, adding a new Metro Link route would cost the city (frenzied calculator action) ...$7 million? Dudes! Why not take the $1.7 million planned for Chebucto, not roll over people's homes, and re-invest that money in a proven public transit program such as Metro Link? Why not offer a better public transit option before encouraging car commuters with a reversing lane?

Far be it from us to question the city's priorities, but city, where are your priorities? Is this really the best option? Ask yourselves, What Would Santa Do?

Sigh. Meanwhile, Moynihan says the Neighbourhood Association is planning an event for January 31 featuring former Ottawa city councillor Clive Doucet. Doucet has been a supporter of light rail in Ottawa and pushed that city towards developing a more formalized urban transit system. He's also a Halifax outsider willing to speak about why Chebucto is a big step in the wrong direction. Details about the event will be announced soon.

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