Competition among council members to join London’s transit-focused groups was fierce as they gathered around the horseshoe for the first time to decide the make-up of various committees, working groups and commissions.
Decisions about who will sit on each group still need to finalized during the first full council meeting of the new term on Wednesday, but much of the legwork happened Tuesday while council sat as the strategic priorities and policy committee.
The five spots available with the London Transit Commission were put to a ranked ballot vote. Councillors Phil Squire and Jesse Helmer were re-elected alongside citizen appointees Tariq Khan, Tanya Park, and Sheryl Rooth.
Nine councillors also volunteered to sit on the rapid transit implementation working group, which gets updates about the hotly-debated bus rapid transit plan before they go to council.
“BRT is a big one. It’s a big price tag,” said one of those volunteers, first-time Ward 12 Coun. Elizabeth Peloza.
One of the biggest concerns Peloza heard while knocking on doors was how construction of the $500-million project would roll out, though she also identified traffic calming and issues related to homelessness as top concerns amongst her constituents.
Peloza, Squire, Helmer, Maureen Cassidy, Steve Hillier, Anna Hopkins, Arielle Kayabaga, Steve Lehman and Michael van Holst all volunteered for the rapid transit implementation working group.
Paul Van Meerbergen campaigned staunchly against bus rapid transit, and told Global News Radio 980 CFPL that’s why he was one of two votes against Mayor Ed Holder’s pick, left-learning Ward 4 councillor Jesse Helmer, for deputy mayor.
“To place the most pro-BRT councillor as deputy mayor for me, was a non-starter. Particularly because the position of the populis.”
Van Meerbergen’s vision for improving traffic flow throughout London is to continue widening roads.
“Our road system is a perpetual … mess,” he said. “We have to widen some of our major roads, like Wonderland. Wonderland needs to be six lanes, and it should have been six lanes 10 years ago.”
The five spots available on the city’s civic works committee were also in high demand. Squire, Lehman, Van Holst, Peloza, and Shawn Lewis were chosen for that group.
Another highlight is the reinstatement of Mo Salih and the addition of Holder to the police services board.
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