The founders of Calgary chose our City motto ‘Onward’ wisely, and today we are debating how best to move ourselves and our city onward.
Last November, Ipsos Reid surveyed citizens and reported that 71% of Calgarians thought that traffic, roads and transit were the most important issues. The public debate should begin with these questions:
• Do we want to make significant investments to ease our traffic congestion?
• What are our priorities?
• When should we build these projects?
• And finally, what are the most appropriate funding methods?
Currently, we are fixed on costs and taxes not first considering the merits of the projects.
Compared to the other major Canadian cities, our traffic congestion is not yet quite as bad. However, if growth rates continue to be the same, over time we can anticipate congestion increasing to a point where our quality of life and Calgary’s attractiveness as an investment opportunity could be jeopardized.
Our public discussion should include a challenge for all of us as to how we can minimize traffic congestion during rush hours by changing our behaviour.
There is capacity in our roads and transit networks just before and after the peak hours. Employers and employees alike need to re-new their commitments to flex-time job arrangements.
Furthermore, research shows that even a 5-10 percent reduction in traffic volumes can noticeably reduce congestion. This means that if we work from home or elsewhere on average as little as one day every two weeks, we can reduce the time we waste in traffic. Can we be motivated to change our habits in order to delay making costly infrastructure investments?
Next, we need to agree on which transportation investments should occur first.
• Should roads, bridges, buses or LRT trains be the priority?
• Where do we locate the best solutions in terms of planning?
• Which should we focus on first, suburban employment centers or transit oriented developments?
• Should we phase in major investments?
• Should new LRT lines be built only after a progression from regular bus service?
• For example, establishing a regular bus route service which would then become an express level of service to eventual development of LRT lines?
• Are we building the right amount of roads and bridges in relation to public transit investments?
• Should transit services continue to be offered at the current 50% taxpayer subsidy or at an even greater incentive?
These questions must be addressed first and policies developed to support our transportation funding needs.
Only then can we fairly judge all the costs and determine how to finance the projects.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.