By Jay Ménard,
When you draw lines in the sand, you create a front upon which battles must be fought.
That’s what we saw last night at the BRT public participation meeting, held at the Budweiser Gardens. It’s clear that people aren’t listening — or, I should say, they’re selectively listening. And the result is a polarization of debate.
Of course, that’s what you get when you argue for or against a “vision.”
I’m pro transit; anti BRT as it’s presented. It doesn’t mean that I’m not progressive, that I hate London, or that I’m stuck in my ways. It means I don’t think this particular BRT proposal is the right one and I would like to actually explore alternatives.
Actual exploration. Not lip service. Not a dog-and-pony show to check off the ol’ engagement box or validate a mandate. A true, proper engagement strategy that is inclusive.
By Jay Ménard,
How do we solve London’s current rapid transit debacle? The debate is so polarized that the process has been poisoned. So perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board and start where we should have — listening to people’s needs.
All people, not just selected voices.
I’ve been content to discuss this matter behind the scenes, reaching out to councillors and sharing my thoughts. But I really can’t hold my tongue as the on-line and print discussion has turned to the hypocrisy of allegdly rich Londoners posting DownShift signs on their lawn.
People of privilege arguing about which people of privilege are allowed to speak about transit would be funny if it wasn’t sad. Continue reading
Ranked ballots — it’s easy as counting 1-2-3, right? But voting is so much more than that — and focusing on the symptom, rather than the disease, is not going to solve a much larger problem of voter disenfranchisement.
London’s council is discussing ramming through electoral changes to a ranked-ballot system in time for the next election. Yesterday, Dave Meslin — an advocate for ranked ballots, was on the Devon Peacock show promoting ranked ballots. In his oversimplification of the issue, he stated, “the suggestion that people won’t know how to count to three is actually quite offensive and patronizing to the residents who live in London. I’m quite confident they’ll figure it out.”
What’s insulting is the insinuation that voting is that simple. It isn’t. It’s hard. The act of voting itself is simple, yes. But the act of casting an informed ballot is much more difficult and requires much more of an investment.
Unfortunately, voters have historically not seen a return on that investment — and until that changes, any adjustments to the voting protocol is just putting lipstick on a pig.
By Jay Menard,
Accusations of racism, hypocritical criticisms for behaviour recently perpetuated by the other side, and admonishments by the most tone deaf for people not listening. The divide between us continues to grow.
So maybe it’s time for a story…
After all, I opined about how we often play our own “Trump” card in Canada way back in March. And things aren’t getting any better, so the probability of our Canadian version of Trump emerging is rapidly moving from being an “if” to a “when.”
And now, the story… Continue reading
By Jay Menard,
The U.S. election proved what can go horribly wrong when we only pay lip service to the ideals of inclusion.
The worst type of exclusionary politics isn’t practiced by those who are overt in their exclusion — the racists, the bigots, etc. — but rather it’s practiced by those who profess to be inclusive, yet exclude all of those whose views don’t march in lockstep with the groupthink.
And last night’s election results were merely a reflection of that frustration.
My social feeds tend to lean fairly heavily to the left. And the statements I read last night were telling:
“What is going on?”
“This can’t be real…”
“What are they thinking.”
The “they” part of that statement is the problem. And it’s one that plagues the so-called progressive, left-leaning members of our society. Inclusion isn’t about us and them. It’s about all of us. Continue reading
The one thing about trains — when they’re coming your way, you’ve got to be the one that gets out of the path, because they’ll run right through you. And that appears to be the tactic that LRT proponents are using in their emotion-filled arguments responding to City staff’s recommendation for adopting the less-expensive BRT system.
After all, if you’re against LRT, you hate London, right? At least that’s what the tenor of the conversation has been. You hate London, you’re anti-progress unless you’re all-in.
I happen to disagree. And this one-track focus on LRT as the be all and end all of transit solutions is only serving to bypass the needs of the many in its headlong rush to satisfy the vision of a select few. But I guess I foolishly define “progress” by solutions that benefit all demographics. Continue reading
By Jay Menard
You can flex all you want. If there’s no muscle behind it, no one’s taking a second look.
London’s council recently endorsed a $15.9-million plan to create Dundas Place — transitioning a stretch of Dundas St. from Wellington St. to the Thames River into a flex street.
The idea, is sound in principle. But while there’s been a lot of talk about transformation — an empty word that can be filled by any concept that fits your desires — there’s little talk about sustainability.
And that’s where the concern is.
I love the idea of a flex street. I’ve seen it work. But I don’t love the idea of a flex street as the first step in a process. Dundas Place has a strong “If you build it, they will come feel.”
And that’s true. They’ll come.
After that? You’ve got to give them a reason to keep coming back. Continue reading