Two London councillors set to hear BRT concerns

. AM980 News

A pair of City Councillors expect to get an earful from residents Wednesday night at a special public input meeting on London’s bus rapid transit (BRT) plan.

Tanya Park and Phil Squire organized the session, as their wards include two of the most contentious routes proposed by staff.

Park’s Ward 13 includes the downtown, where staff have suggested building a 900-metre BRT-exclusive tunnel under Richmond Row.

The many unknowns surrounding the tunnel, including the exact cost and impact of construction, have attracted a lot of criticism from downtown merchants over the last few months.

READ MORE: Richmond Street business owners raise concerns over London bus rapid transit plan

The northern portal of the tunnel, along with a dedicated bus lane on Richmond north of downtown toward Western University, are part of Squire’s ward.

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He has expressed concerns about the tunnel and has said many residents are opposed to the dedicated BRT lane on Richmond. Squire believes there is support, however, for a tunnel-free alternative which would move the north corridor west to Wharncliffe and Western roads.

READ MORE: Down Shift London steps up anti-BRT campaign with new lawn and window signs

The group Shift Happens supports the routes initially proposed by staff. Spokesperson Christopher Ryan tells AM980 why they feel the BRT lane should stay on Richmond.

“There are a number of reasons why the Richmond route was the preferred route, one of them has to do with population and job density,” he said. “The other one is just the fact that east London has an incredible amount of ridership, and placing the route west of the river would be doing them a disservice. It would be doing a number of people a disservice in the long term.”

Ryan says he looks forward to hearing what other residents have to say at the public input meeting, as long as their viewpoints are based on facts, not misinformation.

“I think that’s the important thing to note, that it’s never OK to say, ‘I don’t want to hear any more concerns, we’ve been down this road, enough is enough,’ but certainly it’s fair to say that as time goes on, the information that we’re touting is strictly fact-based.”

READ MORE: London Downtown Business Association commits to surveying members on rapid transit

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Wednesday’s public input meeting for residents of Wards 6 and 13 is scheduled to run from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Wolf Performance Hall in the Central library.

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