Yes, I get worked up about the Mayor and her constantly bringing up the LRT Vote. Even I get tired of it. And people have been asking me “Bear*, why are you so mad? Who cares if the Mayor brings up the Main Street route in every conversation? It’s not like it’s hurting anybody.” *Only my mom calls me that: not just a fact, also a warning!
Ya, I could let it go. I don’t need to rant and rave and write blog posts about it. I could enjoy my life, and my privilege, knowing that the decision doesn’t affect me in the slightest (I live near Gateway, so I’m getting LRT either way). And while, basically that is true, there are some hard lessons I’ve learned in my life. One of the biggest? “Never forget where you came from, you may have to go back someday.”
Not so little known fact: I grew up in affordable housing. I grew up in a Co-op (props to my Mondragon homies! that one in Heart Lake that no one wanted to be built and people actively lobbied against). My family lived there from ’83 until around the time I finished law school in 2003. Affordable housing allowed me to grow and thrive in a safe environment, allowed me to work, study and begin my professional career. I owe it all to the little affordable housing project that nobody wanted.
What does this have to do our Mayor and the LRT? I am glad you asked.
The following is a screen shot from the Region of Peel’s website, taken just before I began writing this entry:
Six years of scraping by.
Six years of financial insecurity.
Six years of not being able to afford to live in your own home.
When I read that number, and I listen to the Mayor spend her valuable air time crying foul over a lost transit route option like its Brampton’s only issue (the alternative to which is just a slightly different route that will only 3.5 minutes of commuting time to a trip to Square One vs her *preferred route*), well, I’m sorry, I can’t help but get a little mad. After all, when I needed affordable housing growing up, it was there for me. What would my own life have been like without a safe and stable home to grow up in?
I won’t repeat what I’ve written here on the topic of leadership, but suffice it to say, when I say “Move On Madam Mayor” I’m not just being a bully, or a jerk, or a peanut gallery troll. I really do mean: Move On! Get back to work! Time to lean? Time to clean!
Let’s talk about:
- creating more Affordable Housing and improving access to, and management of, existing programs;
- expanding and improving the new Peel Memorial, and how can we grow it into an actual second hospital;
- making recreation and quality of life programs more affordable and more available
- reducing wait times and the bureaucracy that are keeping people from getting the supports they need;
- increasing spaces for specialized training facilities for our young athletes in Minor Baseball, Hockey, Gymnastics, Track and Field, Lacrosse, and other sports;
- increasing day care options, but traditional and those that support the shift work that many of our citizens work around;
- redesigning our roads to be bike and pedestrian friendly to move more people in more cost-effective ways;
- repairing our older community centres, library and community theatres to bring them up to code, and share in the unqualified splendour of facilities like Gore Meadows C.C.;
- protecting our vulnerable populations against violence, drug and sex trades;
- improve and expand our parks, parkettes and open public spaces to provide for healthy and active lifestyles;
- turning our attention to Official Plan amendments, Secondary Plan updates, zoning and redevelopment policies to foster and create spaces for all of these needs, both to incorporate our new provincial projects and to grow and expand our municipal programs.
The “people” I mentioned above are right about the anger part of things. Why bother getting mad? It doesn’t accomplish anything. But the conversation matters, and it needs to refocus itself on moving forward. Even if it makes people mad. After all, marriages don’t end when couples fight, they end when couples stop fighting.
The conversation about the Main Street option is over, for now, and it’s time we all start reminding our elected officials that we expect more from them then grandstanding over provincial projects. We expect City work done on City projects to benefit the whole city. Come 2018, when the politicos inevitably revive the LRT issue, let’s not allow them to turn the election into “One Issue” argument about Main Street vs. Kennedy Road. We deserve more than that. Be diligent in challenging every candidate, be it for Ward Councillor or for Mayor, to explain how they will actually tackle housing, seniors issues, child care, parks, cycling, crime, civic infrastructure, equity of city-wide spending allocations, and of course, health care. It’s great that people can get to Port Credit 10 minutes faster and all, but it hasn’t shaved a minute off the 6 year wait time for affordable housing.
Six years: Two years longer than you will be in office if you don’t roll up your sleeves and get back to work.
I’ll always remember where I came from, and I won’t let my locals candidates forget either.