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Did the election rush transit facility location choice?

City council has a tough decision ahead of it.

The new transit facility location proposed for 18th Avenue and Foothills Boulevard is one of those issues that voters will remember next fall when they go back to the polls. The issue has resonated with residents, many of whom don’t want to see greenspace next to Ginter’s Field become a bus garage.

Last week’s public information meeting on the proposed facility was a classic. It had everything … angry residents yelling over speakers, bureaucrats speaking bureaucratese, a lack of local politicians actually taking the pulse of the community (Coun. Susan Scott was there), and a general feeling that the fix is in.

BC Transit and city officials said the site best meets their needs, although refused to discuss other possible locations that they may, or may not, have looked at. That, of course, angered the crowd to no end.

BC Transit’s Levi Timmermans admitted that there is no Plan B … in other words, if they don’t get this site then it’s back to Square 1 and suggested not getting the site will likely jeopardize the federal and provincial funding available … and there’s the rub.

A federal green initiative will provide 50 per cent of the funding and the province is kicking in one-third of the cost.

The driving force behind this entire thing is the fact there is federal and provincial funding available and, according to Timmermans, that funding will disappear if the project isn’t completed by March 2019.

Is this being rushed, or as residents at the public meeting felt, rammed down our throats?

Let’s not forget MLAs Shirley Bond and Mike Morris had to get their mugs in the paper announcing the location on March 3, part of the Liberals’ pre-election rush to announce something pretty much every day.

One has to wonder how much pressure, if any, was brought to bear on officials to make sure a location was chosen prior to the writ being dropped in early April.

That being said, I believe Transit officials when they say the site is perfect. It’s the right size, doesn’t have any buildings on it that need to be demolished or remodelled, and it’s close to major routes.

It’s Transit’s job to find a location that best meets its needs.

It’s council’s job to approve a location that best meets the needs of the community.

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