Meet the candidate

It is not easy to know the candidate.

Take, for example, Maxime Bernier of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC). As this election unfolded and debates were planned, his party was excluded from national debates held in French and English.

The PPC does not have an elected member of the House of Commons, although the party has candidates in more ridings than the Bloc Québécois. As a general public event, the debate committee should have offered time to the 16 other parties officially registered for this election.

Rules are rules for a reason, because such situations become untenable and impractical.

Unfortunately, local organizations that host nomination nights seem to fear saying no or drawing such a line in the sand.

Locally, the Chambers of Commerce representing the Central Wellington and Halton Hills businesses hosted an online application evening. While attendance was rare and the impact negligible, it did allow the NDP candidate who was not available during that two or three hour window to send a replacement interpreter.

The NDP did the same thing during a meeting with the candidates on the night of the last election. It was wrong then and it is still wrong now.

Obliged to criticize this violation of the convention – once again – is made all the more difficult as the organizers should know better. But then again, some local chambers of commerce seem to have abandoned their role as spokespersons for businesses, finding solace in being a kind of community stimulus.

While the other candidates are gracious when these things happen, the organizers really need to get the rules in order and insist that the meeting be about candidates committed enough to show up.

September 11th

Two decades ago, most people alive at the time remember exactly where they were when terrorists requisitioned planes as weapons against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The third jet, Flight 93, the target of which is still a matter of speculation, crashed into land near Shanksville, Pa., After the Americans on board fought to take control of the plane.

Much has changed in the world after September 11. Security at airports grew, online surveillance became more intense and of course NATO members found themselves in a doomed battle in Afghanistan. Twenty years later, many of the gains made in this country through NATO activity, especially better conditions for women and access to education for girls, are losing ground. Freedoms are being lost.

Looking at the anniversary coverage last Saturday, the idea took hold that a whole generation of the world’s residents have no idea how deep the moment the planes hit the towers and other sites. Aside from the bickering between Canada and the United States over the centuries, terrorism on our shores has been fairly limited. Knowing about war in its most serious and immediate sense is not something North Americans have ever needed to worry too much about. The complacency and innocence of millions of people ended on September 11, 2001.

Fears of impending attacks have since subsided. Memories fade, wars end, and the news cycle shifts to topical issues, but for those experiencing that fateful fall day, it was a landmark event few will forget.

Let’s do it right

A few weeks ago, Center Wellington City Council expressed interest in reviewing the proposed separate cycle lane on St. David Street North in Fergus. Council will welcome a motion to reconsider the project Monday (September 20).

The plan, as a water and sewer upgrade project, is ironically forced by an ever-increasing burden on residential development. In this plan, a separate lane will be available for cyclists on either side of this portion of Highway 6. Parking spaces will be eliminated and the traffic width of the roadway will be reduced in an effort to calm traffic. Landforms and buffer zones will be extended over various streets, making it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate this busy corridor.

Before delving into why this plan needs to be reviewed, it’s important to note that the merits of biking and walking are well known and undisputed. Discussions here or by those who oppose the proposal have never been anti-bike or anti-walk and hopefully the conversation turns from us and them, to what is best for this community to long term. While some social media posts may have hinted at contempt for supporters of an active lifestyle, no one is perfect.

In fact, one of the Green Lanes group organizers summed up why some board members are now keen to consider the proposal, feeling somewhat pressured into making a decision too quickly without all the relevant details. “I know a few people who have contacted our advisors…. and they reworked them. You could see they were broken. Well done! Yay! Broken might be too harsh a word. They were persuaded, ”the individual wrote.

Most of the questions dealt with by the advisers elicit little response or public awareness. In the case of this question, we are led to believe that dozens of contacts were made, all pushing the agenda to separate cycle paths. This effective lobbying is entirely admissible and probably led to the unanimous choice of the council – as we then noted, a first in many ways for these gentlemen councilors.

Despite informal polls suggesting the general public is not in favor of the split-lane proposal, the council unanimously decided on that option – just like their right as elected decision-makers. But with these decisions come the responsibilities for the choice made and the unintended consequences that flow from such choices.

Parking, essential for business owners, is a problem that still exists, despite efforts to pass it off as old news. While it may not have been designed to sound patronizing, asking the elderly or those with limited mobility to get out and walk a distance after the current parking is over isn’t very helpful.

As the project progresses into the design phase, we hope that the effort to keep a parking lot and cycle path immediately next to it will be reconsidered. It appears to us to be a dangerous scenario if the cycle path plan continues, both for cyclists and for drivers.

To our knowledge, there was no contact with the emergency services community. Investigations on our behalf suggest that there have been no serious accidents on this stretch of road to date, certainly involving cyclists and pedestrians. Many residents have witnessed ambulances, fire trucks and police cars slipping through traffic to get a call. Realizing that St. David St. North represents the north-south link for such purposes, were any alternatives discussed? The proposed roadblocks and traffic calming initiatives will make this cause even more difficult when seconds and minutes count.

The notion of trafficking in general seems to have been forgotten and for the anecdote it is getting worse day by day. Has the council looked at current counts and models to identify or at least model what will happen once Highway 6 is restricted? Which secondary roads will oversized trucks or time-saving passenger vehicles take?

Despite assurances given to the county roads committee this week that the Alma bypass is only a suggestion, it is well known that traffic will take the easiest and most encouraged route. That the journey via Alma adds extra miles and carbon emissions to the trip while eliminating the life of roads paid entirely by local taxes was a missed point of discussion.

As it stands, without a reconsideration motion, all further discussion is over. It’s over without a bypass option, without a plan to handle increasingly large volumes in the city due to development, without figures on annual maintenance costs and, oddly enough, without a holistic plan for cycling and pedestrians.

The cart is before the oxen on this one.

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About Paul Cox

Paul Cox

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