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Letters to the editor, July 31, 2014 

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

Sidewalk closed use other side

Just like spending millions of dollars to widen Robie Street at Chebucto or millions to widen Chebucto Road itself, blowing $12.9 million on the North Park roundabouts project is out of sync with a big-picture integrated transportation strategy. The money will do nothing to reduce heavy reliance on cars by improving public transit (buses and trains), land use planning (better ways to access public transportation and active transportation) or moving people in and out of the downtown, not just cars.

As a spending priority, compare that single project's $12.9 million to HRM's Active Transportation budget of $42.5 million for five years ($8 million/year) and the peninsula's five-year $100,000 bike lane budget. Or the $0 budget for the auto-ownership-alternative CarShare.

Roundabouts are out of sync with a number of major studies and plans that have major implications for commuting on and off the peninsula.These include an integrated landscape design for the North, Central and South Common committed to in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan; the final Cogswell Interchange redesign; implementation of the HRM Pedestrian Safety Committee recommendations; the HRM report on how to fix Metro Transit; and the completion of a commissioned Commuter Rail Feasibility study.

Commuter rail has been tossed around HRM for decades and always thrown out because of cost. In 2011 estimates for a route including Windsor Junction, Mill Cove, Rockingham, Mumford and the Via Rail station was estimated to have capital infrastructure costs of $31 million and operating costs of $6.6 million. The roundabouts project is almost one-third of a rail total of $37.6 and whereas commuter rail would have enormous potential to completely transform transportation for the entire region, roundabouts are single-point.

And just why are the two North Park locations a priority? If it's about safety, shouldn't roundabouts be built in HRM's least safe intersections? None of HRM's 214 pedestrian/bicycle/vehicle collisions in 2013 occurred at either of these locations. (Stats weren't available for previous years.)

These designs are primarily to maximize vehicle flow (at least as far as the next intersection). The Halifax Cycling Coalition has lots to say about there not being a real bike lane and features to maximize cycling safety.

Cutting down 30 trees and moving 30 trees is a bit of an intrusion into existing green space so it is important that HRM finally has a tree budget, but it shouldn't just be because of a public relations exercise. For more info see halifaxcommon.ca. —Peggy Cameron, co-chair, Friends of Halifax Common


Gentrifried

If this were Epic Rap Battles, I'd have to say: Sylvain, you LOSE! ("Gentrification," Debate Club by Sylvain Panhurst and Russell Gragg, July 24). Sorry man, pack up your backpack and thumb it out to North Sydney, you can be rest assured they don't have gentrification there. Enjoy. —posted by Cranky at thecoast.ca

I choose to rent where I live because I want to support downtown Dartmouth, and I honestly dislike it when people associate the G word with high-class yuppie snobbery. Is it gentrification when I walk to the farmers' market every weekend? Is it gentrification when I buy a coffee from Two If By Sea and drop by to support a business along the slowly revitalizing Portland Street? Because I guarantee that the community is benefiting from this. If we had rent control in place (this should be a serious discussion if we are going to eliminate urban sprawl), we'd see better development, and more responsible growth, all around. —posted by Dr. Fever

I think North by Night Market is doing its best to help make my neighbourhood an even more awesome place. —posted by The Frog Queen

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