Sustainable Trent has been part of the Peterborough/Nogojiwanong community mobilization to protect greenspace and oppose the City’s plans to build a 4-lane road through the centre of the city, including a bridge over Jackson Park, a beautiful natural space located in the West End of Peterborough.
In Fall 2013, we donated $500 to the Peterborough Greenspace Coalition to aid in its Parks Not Parkways campaign. Members of Sustainable Trent spoke at the City Council meeting in November, making the case that our transportation priorities in this city should be greenspace, public transportation, and cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, rather than roads which will only create more traffic problems and destroy greenspace. Despite the chorus of community voices in opposition to the Parkway, councillors voted 8-3 in favour of the proposal, and 6-5 against a motion to remove the bridge over Jackson Park from the project.
Their decision was unfortunate and undemocratic, but the fight is far from over. Even though there will not be a public referendum on the Parkway, the upcoming municipal elections this October represent a chance for residents of Peterborough to have our voices heard. We can do our best to vote out those councillors who support the Parkway, and vote in those who will be committed to greenspace and public transportation, and focus on pressing priorities such as poverty reduction rather than road construction. A new Council could revisit the Parkway proposal, and remove it from the City’s transportation plan.
In our presentations to City Council, we promised to launch a campaign at Trent University to encourage students to vote in the Peterborough municipal elections, bringing in young voters who could sway the results against councillors who voted for the Parkway, and in support of those candidates who promise to be leaders in environmental sustainability and social justice. Candidates running for Council will be confirmed in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates on how you can get involved in the municipal election, to bring the change we need to leadership in this City.
Sign this petition to protect Jackson Park from the bridge proposal!http://www.change.org/petitions/preserve-jackson-park-stop-the-parkway-bridge-and-retaining-wall-options
Watch this inspiring video: The Tale of Jackson Park and the Parkway Trail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0JKtqoJSWA
Background Information on the Parkway Proposal from the Peterborough Greenspace Coalition’s website, parksnotparkways.ca:
1. The Current Parkway Proposal—a $66 Million Walled Street?
The City of Peterborough is conducting a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) to find transportation solutions to issues such as future road congestion, collisions, and the perceived need for better connections to the south end of the city. While it was designed to identify and evaluate alternatives, it has focused on whether to build a road through the currently natural Parkway corridor, both south and north of Medical Drive.
The City’s consultant, AECOM, is conducting the EA process with public input at 4 previous meetings. AECOM is recommending a staged approach to construction which will ultimately see a four-lane road through most of the Parkway greenspace from the existing Parkway at Clonsilla Avenue through to Chemong and then two lanes to the Zoo. This will include a four-lane bridge that will span Jackson Park, 4 double-lane roundabouts, 1 new traffic signal, plus sound walls, berms, rerouted streams, and raised roadways. The existing trail will run alongside the new road. The four-lane option only appeared at the third public consultation meeting and is not in the 2012 Transportation Plan. The Fairbairn/3rd Line to Water/no bridge option would best solve any predicted future congestion and have less impacts. The four-lane project will cost $66+ million (land, construction), plus $236,000 per year to maintain. Land is to be acquired in 2019, the road and bridge built in 2020, and the project operational by 2021. However, once approved, construction could begin at any time, as early as spring 2014.
2. Why the Concern about the Parkway?
There are numerous concerns about the proposal to build the Parkway and bridge:
- it will destroy or significantly affect valuable greenspace in Peterborough:
- eliminating a large portion of city greenspace and one of four main greenways — the sorts of greenways cities around the world are paying millions to create or reclaim
- severely impacting the quality of Jackson Park, one of our most beloved parks
- decreasing the serenity and beauty of our parks with roads, noise and hard surfaces
- negatively affecting important wildlife habitat and connecting linkages
- young and old will have much fewer and more degraded places to experience nature
- Peterborough’s reputation for natural beauty and conservation will be tarnished
- there is no current need for such a road and it is not a good solution to future issues:
- new roads like the Parkway are known to create more traffic and raise safety issues
- it does little to solve potential issues nor does it address the EA problem statement
- it will decrease cyclist and pedestrian use, increase intersections and collisions, and make alternative transportation and healthy activities less attractive and successful
- the Parkway will be very expensive (at least $66 Million+) with many financial concerns:
- the price tag is likely to continue to climb ($17.6M no bridge in 2003, $53M in 2011)
- the cost will be some $1,000 for each resident in Peterborough ($3,100 per family)
- the project will raise either property taxes or income taxes – there’s just 1 taxpayer!
- we have more important financial priorities in the City: jobs, housing, flood control, recreation, transit, etc.
- funding this project will mean that other projects will be harder and take longer to fund
- developers will likely face higher development costs from development charges
- road and bridge maintenance costs will be some $236,000 a year and will add more future costs for refurbishing this extensive (and expensive) new infrastructure.
- the Parkway road way and walls will separate neighbourhoods
- this will make it harder and less safe for children to walk to school
- two elementary schools are directly adjacent to the proposed route
- other schools are close by
- the corridor will feature 2.5 kilometres of sound walls—ugly and interfering
- there are better alternatives: widen Fairbairn Road to 3 lanes, widen 3rd Line, extend a road to Carnegie/Water (minimizes house impacts, already recognized as a future route); foster north-south travel on Reid and Park Streets; widen Parkhill Road and bridge between Reid and Monaghan; widen and curve sooner to Clonsilla; multi-use south trail along Parkway Corridor (preserves greenspace near low income, high density housing); cycling/pedestrian and intersection improvements, neighbourhood speed bumps, + others
3. I Thought the Parkway was Voted Down. Where are We Now in This Process?
The Parkway was proposed as a city by-pass in 1947, and then abandoned in 1970. Jack Doris beat Sylvia Sutherland to become mayor in 1991, largely due to his opposition to the Parkway. Citizens voted against the Parkway 55% to 45% in the 2003 referendum. Council then voted to remove the Parkway from the Official Plan—but this was never done. Previous consultants did not identify the Parkway as a priority. The 2012 Transportation Plan and Budget identified one part of the Parkway as a project for 2022 and beyond. However, this was changed in spring 2012 when the City hired a consultant to study the Parkway corridor. The budget for the study was increased in May 2013 to now total $1.05 million.
AECOM was hired to conduct the study. Public Information Centres were held in November 2012 (introduction, problem statement), and in 2013: March (alternatives), June (Jackson Park alternatives), and September (design details). AECOM and city staff plan to bring the Parkway road and bridge recommendation to City’s Committee of the Whole on November 13, and then to a public Council meeting on November 20. Depending on Council’s decision, AECOM will then file a final EA document for 30 days of public comment. Once approved, the City will be able to build the Parkway road and bridge whenever it is ready to do so. Council will also decide on the 2013 and longer term capital budget in December (Parkway included).
4. What are the Concerns with the Process?
There are several concerns about the Parkway decision-making process:
- Citizens previously voted against the Parkway, but this position is not being respected
- During early phases of the EA and other City consultations, citizens said protecting greenspace was a top priority, yet this EA has effectively ignored those concerns
- the Parkway would violate the terms of the gift to the City of core lands in Jackson Park
- the project is being accelerated before it is needed and before next planned reviews
- the EA study itself is costing at least $1.05 million, and perhaps more over time
- the EA has only allowed 30 days comment at each stage, and this is too short
- AECOM does not appear balanced in its assessment and are promoting the Parkway; it is now the costliest alternative and AECOM may well bid and be chosen to build it
- all background study documents have not yet been made available at this late stage
- Council is rushing to approve the study before it is complete and before full public input