Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I spent a few hours tonight at a community consultation regarding the LRT line that’s eventually going to form the spine of Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge’s rapid transit network, as well as the associated planning strategies for that central transit corridor. It was my first time at such an event, and it was so much fun that I can’t wait for the next one. Closet transit geekery is one of my several main hobbies, but it was always something I had enjoyed on my own until tonight. It was really heartening to engage with a bunch of like-minded people who were incredibly intelligent, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic about positively shaping their homes and exerting a positive influence on other people’s lives. It reminded me a bit of chatting and debating with a crew of music writers: widely varying opinons, different bases of experience and knowledge, links forged by a shared passion for the topics at hand, plenty of inside baseball jokes. I loved it. 

It was also really encouraging to observe first-hand the workings of a community with a strong, smart vision for its future. I love Toronto for dozens of reasons, but the city is a bit of a mess with regards to planning and infrastructure, in desperate need of drastic change but burdened with an idiot mayor, weak intergovernmental connections, and a civic body that moves at a snail’s pace. The Region of Waterloo is less than a tenth of the size, but is moving forward with a solid head on its shoulders and foresight its older sibling has sorely lacked until very recently. I’m proud to live here (if only temporarily) and to have even a nominal part in the region’s responsible growth and maturation. 

If you have a few hours to kill and an incredibly nerdy craving for hardcore mid-sized Canadian urban planning/transit wonkery, the Region’s huge CTC community building strategy is worth a read.