If there was any doubt bus rapid transit would be a hot-button election issue before, that can be put to rest thanks to a delay in a key report.
The city’s rapid transit project director Jennie Ramsay confirmed to 980 CFPL that the target for presenting the report has moved to April 23 from April 9.
Ontario’s municipal elections are set for Oct. 22 this year, some 182 days from the new date for the report to come out. An environmental assessment period lasts 185 days.
“The idea of this becoming an election issue to me is the purest form of dealing with this,” said Dan McDonald of Downshift, a group critical of current rapid transit plans.
“It saves the conjecture of finger pointing and people saying, ‘Oh, those figures aren’t correct’ and ‘That information’s not honest information’ and it gets it right down into the campaign.”
The data includes details on air and storm water quality, noise and vibration assessments, traffic analysis and micro-simulation report, data from public consultations, and more.
“As you can imagine,” Ramsay wrote in a statement, “with any large transit project like this, preparing a draft Environmental Project Report is an extremely detailed undertaking, consolidating months and months of extensive study, consultation and consideration.”
McDonald added that he thinks the provincial election in June could shed insight into how big of an issue it will be municipally.
“(London North Centre has) been a hotbed of discontent. I’m not sure where that splashes back, but I think you can also look at that race and say that’ll give you some indicator.”
Ramsay, meantime, wrote that the timeline for the actual project is not changed and approving it would fall to the next council regardless of whether the EA was approved at the beginning or end of April.