News / Halifax

Tristan Cleveland: Why you should care about Halifax's Integrated Mobility Plan

Consultations for the plan start Wednesday night and Metro's columnist anticipates big things: bus lanes, rail, bike lanes, walkable streets.

Metro file

Strangely, you have probably never heard of the Integrated Mobility Plan, yet it is perhaps our city’s greatest opportunity.

Consultations for the plan start Wednesday night and we can anticipate big things: bus lanes, rail, bike lanes, walkable streets—it could all be on the table. The plan is enormously important, and here’s why.

Name your favourite city. Almost without exception, you will name a place with great transit, like Paris, Montreal, Portland, London or Vancouver.

Why is that? Because great transit does more than move people; it kicks off a virtuous cycle that creates fantastic cities.

Take Bayers Road and Robie Street. A bus lane down these streets is badly needed: it would open up all of the downtown, universities and hospitals to Fairview, Clayton Park, Bedford and beyond.

A bus lane would also encourage developers to build nearby, and it just so happens that all along Bayers and Robie, there are massive opportunities for development.

When more stores and homes are located on a bus lane, it makes sense to run more buses there, which improves service, which encourages more development.

These businesses and homes will produce more tax revenue, because transit lends them higher value, but they cost less to service, because they don’t need new roads.  

This dynamic saves residents money too. When transit is good enough to replace a car (or a second car), families save $9,500 a year on average, according to CAA.

This virtuous cycle pushes down the cost of running a city while increasing revenue. It improves health by encouraging walking. And it creates vibrant streets, because it mixes transit users, customers and residents together, creating that buzz cities thrive on.

Would it be possible to establish that kind of success without proper transit? Disneyland, for one, has done it. But by relying so much on cars, Disneyland has a sea of parking nearly the size of the theme park itself. Times Square has just as many daily visitors, so if it relied on cars instead of transit, the centre of New York would be a 170 acre parking lot.

The virtuous cycle of smart transit investment is no nice frill: we simply will not become a great city without it. Using transit to encourage development, and development to support transit, is the formula that underlays that feeling you get when you know you’re in a wonderful city.

Let’s choose to create that feeling here. We’re getting to be a big city, Halifax. It’s time to say yes to big city transit.

Make your voice heard on the Integrated Mobility Plan:

Wednesday, November 30 at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Dartmouth Sportsplex - Nantucket Room, 110 Wyse Road, Dartmouth

Thursday, December 1 at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Italian-Canadian Cultural Centre - Auditorium, 2629 Agricola Street, Halifax

Wednesday, December 7 at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Bedford-Hammonds Plains Community Centre - Arts & Crafts Room, 202 Innovation Drive, Bedford

Thursday, December 8 at Captain William Spry Centre - 16 Sussex Street, Halifax. (12 p.m. session at Meeting Room #2, 6 p.m. session in the Community Multipurpose Room)

Check out other options online at halifax.ca/integratedmobility

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