Patrick Klassen 
Member since Mar 22, 2009


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Re: “Streetcar desires

Jowblow - thank you for your response, I found your comments quite valid, although I am quite surprised by a couple of your contradictions - you seem to have overlooked the complex nature of the issues in which you are involved. I'm also quite sorry to hear how jaded a tone with which you present yourself. If I might make a suggestion - you really need to move beyond a silo way of thinking. In that sense I mean that there are some tremendous interconnections that you are seemingly overlooking. A few comments:

1) Just a bit of housekeeping, our Regional Plan: http://www.halifax.ca/regionalplanning/Fin…

Surely you've seen this? It's the HRM's primary and fundamental planning document.

2) You state: "I would suggest a more pressing issue is the future of peninsula Halifax" - which is exactly what my study was concerned with (a streetcar is an urban core system). The interrelationships between transportation infrastructure and (as I mentioned before) urban core population settlement, urban density and economic investment are quite outstanding. I could forward you a number of reports.

3) "how do we re-generate the area with families,schools and community amenities and thus reverse the increasing suburbanization of the perimeters of Halifax and Dartmouth" - You nailed this when you said by investing in the quality of life & amenities within our urban core. Where you didn't make the connection was in thinking more broadly - it is quite common knowledge by now that infrastructure geared at the community level, such as a streetcar, is a very compelling tool to achieve such goals - you'll have to take my word for it as I am unable to post the numerous studies that support this - I can email them to you, but I'm unsure if you'd read them. To make the connection, here are a few facts you may not have been aware of:

- Streetcars have been shown to dramatically catalyze mixed use development within proximity to alignment - ie. the fixed nature of the line provides developers with an incentive to develop where the lines are located - development = family dwelling (people), retail (stores), businesses (jobs), open spaces etc.

- Demand for urban dwellings increase considerable with increased proximity to streetcar lines - people want to live near them (again, these are documented facts, not assumptions or subjective statements).

- Households located within walking distance from a streetcar have been shown to have reduced automobile ownership (compared with households not in proximity), and automobile use has been shown to drop considerably.

- Streetcars have been shown to increase transit ridership by upwards of 50% when replacing bus lines - again, people tend to drive less.

Anyhow, so my general points (again) are these -

1) Everything changes... adapting to change is fundamental.
2) Planning is concerned with these changes, and in ensuring a positive outcome for society as a result.
3) Our community and its foundations are complex, and require a multifaceted understanding to address the horrible issues that we are all concerned (for example, the problem of traffic will never ever ever be solved by building roads).
4) To address these horrible issues that concern us, you need to have an understanding of these interconnections, and, above all....
5) You need to have a positive forward looking attitude and a great lot of patience to understand that change is slow and to work with the processes with which it occurs.

So anyhow, I'm sure you are genuinely concerned with our community, I'm not contradicting that. What I'm suggesting is that our society is changing (as it has always) and that in order to address the issues of today and tomorrow we need to better understand the connections that underly. From your comments, I am not sure you do, and I mean no offense at all by this, I am simply suggesting that you should understand these issues better before you claim to have knowledge of the answers - you have knowledge of the issues.

Posted by Patrick Klassen on 03/23/2009 at 7:14 PM

Re: “Streetcar desires

Joeblow, the irony of your moniker is readily apparent. Your brief analysis is quite appropriately missing any objectivity, as well as any understanding of the more complex reality of economic development and its relationship with transportation systems - I bet your that guy at public meetings who stands up to comment just to hear his own voice. Anyhow, I've taken the liberty of providing you with some objective feedback so that you might understand your bias:

1) You've discounted the 'planning' process to a shortsighted review of the status quo in suggesting that the success of something as complex as a streetcar (and indeed a larger transportation system) is solely dependent only a single variable such as the total population of an area. There are so many more robust variables in considering such a system and its potential application that you've totally missed (ie. economic development, population density, transit system integration, etc...).

2) You've assumed that a graduate planning student wouldn't adopt a thesis that acknowledges the reality of the existing environment and population of Halifax, and the use of case studies such as Portland that are contextually separate. Your argument, as such, is fundamentally flawed.

3) You've narrowed your concept of a streetcar to a alternative to a bus, which is it absolutely not. Within the context of this article and indeed the studies upon which it draws, it is conceptualized as a supplement in a more efficient and effective system at large and as a tool to target economic development and population settlement in accordance with the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy (RMPS and Downtown Plan).

4) You've made the assumption that the persons commenting in this article have concluded that the HRM should move ahead with installing streetcars, and in doing so you've missed the point of the article which is to explore its 'potential.'

Anyhow, to qualify my points, I conducted a through investigation of the Halifax environment and the potential application of modern streetcars within downtown. In this sense the streetcar was viewed as a component of a broader transit system, and as a tool for the catalyst of economic development and Peninsula population settlement - in layman's terms - as a tool for Halifax to achieve the goals it has outlined with its RMPS and Downtown Plan. Within this process I looked at numerous case studies to extract pertinent information that would contextually relate to the Halifax environment (realizing and accounting for the contextual divide of such obvious things as the difference in population between cities), and then conducted an analysis and investigation the potential benefits and shortcomings of streetcars in Halifax. My findings were not that we should build them now, but rather that the conditions within downtown Halifax, with the regional transportation and economic development goals in mind, warrants the consideration of such modes. My point is this - planners should be looking forward beyond the status quo. They should be conducting more robust, meaningful and accountable analysis to explore the full picture of our environments. It is for these reasons that I found the irony in your comments... and in your moniker as 'Joeblow.' There is a reason(s) you are not a planner.

If you intend to respond to my comments by providing a range of statistics (that I am already aware of and have researched throughly) then I have made my point to its entirety. Some objective discussion, on the other hand, would be perhaps be more compelling.

Posted by Patrick Klassen on 03/22/2009 at 1:25 PM

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