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West LRT missing major employment centres

Council’s judgment to exclude Mount Royal College on the West LRT line is the kind of gaffe we’ve come to expect from our heralded leaders.

Council’s judgment to exclude Mount Royal College on the West LRT line is the kind of gaffe we’ve come to expect from our heralded leaders.

The approved alignment, which routed the train west on 17th Ave., and in doing so failed to pick up major employment centres like MRC, ATCO and Westmount Corporate Campus Centre in the Lincoln Park-Garrison Green communities, was completed with rapid disregard.

Naheed Nenshi, spokes­person for the Better Calgary Campaign, argues council needs to recognize transit should not serve the network, but that the network needs to serve where people want or need to go.

“There was very shoddy analysis done to justify the final alignment and it was done with enormous speed,” said Nenshi.

Nenshi said the city is leading the public to believe more people work west of Sarcee Trail than in the Lincoln Park area.

City planners have argued that compromising the LRT service to downtown by altering the route to include MRC would be counter-productive, as it would decrease downtown ridership potential, which the planners project will be far higher than the potential ridership from Mount Royal College.

But council’s insensitivity to taxpayers who don’t work in the downtown core is represented by existing and proposed transit infrastructure.

On a busy day, MRC hosts 18,000 people from the four quadrants of Calgary, and commuters go there at all times of the day — not just peak hours.

The point is, universities and colleges are major employment hubs, symbols of a community’s cultural entrenchment and should be prioritized on the chain of transit expansion.

Calgary Transit plans to add more Bus Rapid Transit routes to MRC and could integrate those routes immediately, but mysteriously dilly-dally on such a simple initiative.

While the West LRT, a grand-scale project, was approved with such enormous speed and incomprehensible analysis the whole scheme loses credibility in comparison.

Granted, the cost of routing the LRT to Mount Royal is greater and the logistics are more complicated, but if the city can spend $150,000 million to extend the tracks a couple of kilometres in the northwest to pick-up two low-density neighbourhoods such as Tuscany and Rocky Ridge, council could surely splurge for an established institution.

The 17th Ave. alignment goes against the city’s vow to attempt to reel in rapid sprawl, and routing it west means the rail will be chasing developments and not the other way around.

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