Tag Archives: London

A Letter to Council: Great Cities Have Great Transit; But Not Necessarily this BRT

By Jay Ménard,

Tonight and tomorrow, our elected representatives will discuss the future of the BRT proposal. As I had a few hours to kill waiting in a hospital today, I wrote one final letter to all of them for consideration and sent it to them earlier.

I present it to you below.

“Dear councillors,

This BRT issue presents an interesting challenge for many of you. I encourage you to vote to send this proposal back to the drawing board. And I’d like to support my argument by starting by quoting one statement — and ask you to read on carefully.

‘Great cities have great transit.’ Continue reading

BRT: Who Do You Trust?

By Jay Ménard,

In the original Batman movie (no, not the Adam West, Batusi-infused one, but the 1980s reboot with the awesome Prince soundtrack), Jack Nicholson’s Joker asks, “And now folks, it’s time for who do you trust?

Now, sure the Joker was just trying to lull the citizens of Gotham into a false sense of security so he could kill them; and you could argue that Batman is a winged vigilante operating on the fringes of the law for the common good — with the tacit support of a police chief dealing with a corrupt crew. Both representing the classic ends-justifying-the-means behaviour. And that attitude certainly looks familiar in London.

When it comes to trust, the devil is in the details. And both sides of the BRT debate have been acting in less than scrupulous — and completely untrustworthy — ways.

Hubba, hubba, hubba. Money, money, money. Who do you trust? Continue reading

The BRT Crash: How We Got There and How We Drive Forward

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.

Continue reading

Solutions for Polarized London’s Transit Debacle? A Drawing Board and Inclusive Listening Skills

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

Fringe Review 2016 – A Holy Trinity – Third Time’s the Charm for “God”

By Jay Ménard

For someone who takes to the stage barefoot, Mike Delamont’s ability to slide into the character of God is as comfortable as a favourite pair of well-worn shoes.

Delamont’s back in London for his third iteration of his series, God is a Scottish Drag Queen. The easiest way to describe it is that God is a professional-quality stand-up show on the Fringe stage. And, for those new to the Fringe or perhaps with some trepidation of what to see, it’s one of the must-attend productions on the circuit.

God is not as you may remember from Sunday School. He has traded in his robes and flowing hair for, well, a more sensible haircut, and a slightly less flowy blouse/power suit combo.  And, of course, he delivers each line in a lilting Scottish brogue. Continue reading

Fringe 2016 Review – 2 for Tea a Masterpiece of Refined Chaos

By Jay Menard,

It is hard to classify James & Jamesy’s 2 for Tea. It is at once a physical comedy and a touching story of friendship and love. It’s at the same time a paean to precision and an exercise in controlled chaos. It is both an homage to the great comedy duos of the past whilst remaining a contemporary delight that keeps getting better.

The easiest way to classify 2 for Tea is to say that it’s a must-see production on this year’s Fringe circuit. Continue reading

Dundas Flex Street Needs Some Muscle

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.

Once.

After that? You’ve got to give them a reason to keep coming back. Continue reading