London’s tourism agency added its name to the list of organizations concerned with the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan before council.
Tourism London general manager John Winston sent a letter to city council last Thursday, calling on lawmakers to amend the existing plan — in particular, the route — to avoid disruptions to tourism-centred business in the city.
“The proposed routing plan, if sanctioned, has the potential of encumbering Tourism London’s ability to attract major sporting, entertainment and convention events due to an anticipated lengthy construction schedule and associated factors,” the letter says.
Winston also noted the elimination of several street parking spaces on King and Richmond streets, as well as the proposed Richmond Street tunnel and other lane restrictions “have the potential to severely impact the business sustainability of our restaurant, retail, hospitality and transportation members which are essential to attracting visitors and accommodating their needs and interests.”
Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert, who sits on Tourism London’s board, fired back at the letter, saying it doesn’t move the issue forward.
“One of the things the Tourism London is — it’s long on critique and short on solutions,” Hubert told AM980. “And what we really need to hear is, ‘So what would you suggest?’ Many people are just saying ‘cancel rapid transit.’ That’s not our end game here.”
Winston says the goal isn’t criticism, but a desire to find a BRT system that improves, rather than hinders, stakeholders like those in the tourism industry.
“We’re not experts at this. Long on critique? I don’t think it’s a critique. I think it’s a statement of fact,” he said on AM980’s “The Andrew Lawton Show.” “These are issues that should very well be addressed and should be considered…. We’re not being critical here. We’re trying to let them know that potentially, these are some of the issues — again, unintended consequences — that could result from this.”
The letter comes days before city officials host a town hall meeting with downtown business and property owners to address questions and concerns with the Shift Rapid Transit Initiative.
Tourism London is a city-owned agency — the first of which to wade into the contentious BRT debate in this manner.
Read full letter below: