As I wrote last week, council stalled on approving the west LRT along Stony Plain Road. In a way I don’t blame councillors, but tough decisions are supposed to be their job.
Council is seeing opposition on two fronts. The first is from not-in-my-backyard obstructionists.
Traffic is a favourite of the obstructionist because it’s easy to make numbers up. For example, Stony Plain Road is four lanes, with two to remain for cars. Ask a resident of Glenora and they will swear that drivers are stubborn and no one is going to switch to parallel routes.
But ask a business owner in Jasper Place and they will claim that more than two-thirds of traffic will go elsewhere, killing their business — never mind that there’s already a rush-hour bus lane and taking a second won’t be a big deal off-peak when people are shopping.
Obstructionists also aren’t afraid to show complete disdain for transit riders. To them, stops are magnets for crime and riders aren’t potential customers.
Their solution? Put it somewhere else, like 107 Ave. — add 1.5 kilometres to the route, eliminate most redevelopment potential, treat transit riders as less important than drivers, and invite a new set of obstructionists.
The second front of opposition is from a more fundamental debate over the nature of the new line: Breeze through the river valley or encourage more people to live in central neighbourhoods.
This debate is intractable because neighbourhoods along 87 Ave. are best served by a direct route, but Stony Plain Rd. and Oliver deserve a connection, as well.
The only way I can see to get past this one quickly is for council to pass both. West LRT isn’t likely to happen immediately, so we might as well take both into detailed planning.
When the money is there, we can pick one or do the best parts of both: The spur from the university to West Edmonton Mall and the low-floor section from downtown to Jasper Place. Lewis Estates is just an expensive invitation to sprawl anyway.
Council needs to make a decision, and this might just be the route to getting one — assuming, as always, it is willing to deal with the obstructionists.