THANK YOU to the 180+ people who emailed the Mayor and council asking to prioritize $35 million in transportation equity investments!
On November 6, the City tabled its Draft budget.
We at the Healthy Transportation Coalition (HTC) board of directors see 3 of 5 transportation equity wins.
WIN: $15 million for affordable housing
By the end of this year, there is an expected 12 000 on the wait-list for affordable housing according to the Housing Registry. Affordable housing is in great need. On top of everyone's right for a decent place to call home, everyone should have easy access to rapid transit. Although there is no clear indication that any of these affordable housing units will be built close to rapid transit stations, there is news that certain developments may be by Tunney's Pasture (Forward Avenue) and the area between the future Main Public Library and Pimisi station. Take a look at our full list of asks here.
WIN: A fare freeze for Equipass and Community Pass
However, further improvements are much needed (Take a look at our full list of asks here). It was also announced later that day on November 6, that there may also be a 3-month fare freeze for regular passes with the possibility of an extension. Well done Ottawa Transit Riders and transit users on being heard. Continue on with the #Freeze4FairFares #FreezeFares campaigns!
WIN: On-line booking for ParaTranspo users
This is way overdue so we are very happy to finally hear progress on this. The #ParaParity voice is strong. Many have been waiting for this for over a decade. A full suite of on-line services is promised by end of 2020, with a web form declared to be available by the end of this year. There will be more details on this in the upcoming Transit Commission meeting on November 20th at 9:30 am (Item 3 on the agenda). We would greatly appreciate the support by joining us at the meeting. We are expecting:
- draft implementation
- key components of the system
- booking priorities (for 50% of seats be reserved online, 50% by phone)
There's more work needed
Snow and Ice Clearing of Sidewalks
Please commit $7 million a year to bringing winter sidewalk maintenance to a class 1A standard, starting in the 2020 Budget. People should not be confined to their apartments in the nation’s capital of a G7 country, and yet that has been the case these past few winters because not enough money is being spent to properly clear snow and ice off of sidewalks. People across Ottawa were trapped in their homes, unable to access transit, or experienced numerous slips, falls, and inconveniences due to lack of snow removal on sidewalks and at bus stops. Immediate action is required to ensure that no more people suffer from isolation, injuries and aren’t required to take great risk to leave their homes.
In the draft Budget (according to the Mayor's speech):
City teams regularly clear 6,000 kilometres of roads and 2,300 kilometres of sidewalks throughout the city. Maintaining our network is expensive – and last year’s harsh winter left our winter maintenance budget in deficit. The 2020 estimated base budget for Winter Operations is increasing by $5.6 million for a total of $78.3 million, which is a 7.7% increase over 2019. Of the $5.6 million increase, approximately $2.9 million will be allocated to sidewalk maintenance.
I am pleased to say that the Winter Operations budget now reflects the latest 3-year average actuals (2016-2018). The 2020 Draft Budget also includes $250,000 in funding to undertake a review of the winter operations Maintenance Quality Standards, which will focus on sidewalks and Class 5 residential roads. Following last year’s challenging winter, staff have been reviewing their service delivery model to ensure better sidewalk maintenance this coming winter. They will be increasing coverage on the network with a goal of having 24/7 coverage available on all sidewalk beats.
In this article, one of our board members, Terrie Meehan, has expressed how the harsh winters led her to replace her wheelchair. Some had no other choice but to be house-bound. We realize that the maintenance standards are set for review for 2022-2023 as they have not been updated since 2003. But meanwhile, for seven straight years, the City has exceeded the funds it has allocated for winter maintenance. Last year, it was reported that $9 million was spent on sidewalk clearing alone. We expect more than $2.9 million.
Vision Zero Road Safety Action Plan Improvements
Too many people biking are being killed and injured on City streets, therefore a minimum of $12 million must be spent on building cycling infrastructure for all ages and abilities, based on Vision Zero principles and international best practice. Vision Zero principles must be implemented into planning documents, alongside consultation with those found to be most at risk (specifically seniors and children). These cycling safety improvements could be partially funded by charging for parking on evenings and weekends in on-street paid parking areas, and in City-owned parking lots (as per Chair Blais's Motion at the Oct. 2, 2019 Transportation Committee meeting).
In the draft Budget (according to the Mayor's speech):
Again, this year, Budget 2020 also includes funding for active transportation – with an investment in both the Ottawa Pedestrian and Cycling Plan of $9.1 million. Ce financement nous permettra de prévenir ou d’éliminer les décès et les accidents de la routes à travers Ottawa.We remain committed to develop a safe and sustainable transportation environment that focuses on pedestrian and cycling safety, with funding geared towards highest ranked locations – as I think we can all agree that any cycling or pedestrian death is one too many.
In addition, Budget 2020 includes $4 million towards initiatives identified in the 2020-2024 Strategic Road Safety Action Plan. The Strategic Road Safety Action Plan identifies areas for road safety, along with countermeasures that can be implemented to address associated collision types. These initiatives align with Vision Zero (or Safe System) principles of road safety. The emphasis will be on areas with vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists – at intersections and on rural roads.
Budget 2020 also includes $1.65 million to fund the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Program, with each Councillor receiving $50,000 for road safety initiatives in their community – an increase of 25% over 2018.
There is also $500,000 set aside for Pedestrian Crossovers, in order to improve the safety of pedestrians at key crossings across the city. As a result of the 2016-2018 Pedestrian Crossover Pilot Program, there is a list of approximately 100 locations city-wide that have been confirmed to meet the pedestrian/traffic volume warrants for PXO implementation.
There is also $4.2 million for intersection control measures, and just over $3 million for network modifications for to existing intersections (Albion Road and Leitrim Road). Budget 2020 includes: $2.4 million for New Traffic Control Devices Program; $1 million for the Safety Improvements Program; $600,000 towards Accessible Pedestrian Signals; and $420,000 for Safer Roads Ottawa.
Of the $151 million invested in infrastructure as a whole, we believe that there should be greater investment in active transportation infrastructure. We expect more than the $9.1 million declared.
We remain hopeful that, together, more can be done to reach transportation equity.
HTC Board Members
November 9, 2019