Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Rapid Transit — believe it when you see it
In one of my all-time favourite episodes of The Simpsons, a smooth-talking, sharp-witted character insists to the people of Springfield that he has "sold Monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook, and by golly it put them on the map."
This is what came to mind when the city unveiled its plan for the second phase of the Southwest Transitway; the $600 million, seven-kilometre corridor to be completed by 2019, extending south from the existing corridor that runs from Queen Elizabeth Parkway to Jubilee Avenue in Lord Roberts.
Like the North End, formidable barriers cut off Lord Roberts and Riverview from the rest of the city — the Red River to the north, east, and south and the rail yards to the west. The main artery, Osborne Street, runs right through the centre, connecting the south end of the city to South Osborne’s better-known relative, the Village, and downtown.
As recently as 2001, census data shows that up to a third of Lord Roberts residents had low incomes.
Area residents now enjoy several alternative modes of transportation and services on top of regular bus routes, such bike paths and, for people who could use a car once in a while, there is a creative car-rental service with affordable yearly memberships and hourly rates as low as $2/hour run by the Peg City Car Co-op.
There is also, of course, rapid transit.
But the site of the existing corridor, where a condo complex is expected to rise, lies barren and separate from the community.
The most noticeable thing on the lot is a placard of Mike Holmes standing with his arms crossed.
Like our fictional friends in Springfield, we live in a city with potholes that can swallow cars and are investing in alternative infrastructure. Maybe the monorail story came to mind because, like many Winnipeggers, I, too, can easily succumb to pessimism.
But maybe we have reason to do so, given the confusion and mismanagement surrounding other public works.
Clearly we need better public transportation to connect the city, and to ensure that people from all neighbourhoods have affordable and efficient access to economic opportunities and leisure.
We also need to better integrate transportation and infill housing into existing communities.
Unfortunately, it takes years to fully develop, and won’t simply disappear if it fails like in the cartoons.
In the meantime, a mixture of options is helpful, and the two communities flanking the south end of Osborne provide a template for localized solutions.
Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.
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