London Downtown Business Association to survey members on BRT routes

Concerns about rapid transit have been heard "loud and clear" at city hall.

That was the message from the acting city manager who attended a meeting of Downtown London Thursday.

The business association will now consult its membership to gauge support for the recommended BRT routes in the core.

"Your voices are heard, and we are here for you. But you also need to speak for yourself that's why you are here today," said Downtown London board chair Gerald Gallacher addressing members of Downshift London.

The BIA and businesses that formed Downshift had seemed at odds over London's rapid transit routes through the core.

But after Thursday's meeting, both sides agreed on common ground.

To gauge the opinions of Downtown London's 1200 businesses and property owners, the board has agreed to conduct an independent survey of its membership.

"We need to do it right" was the unifying message delivered by acting city manager Martin Hayward where there was agreement that transit needs improvement and investment.

"Everybody wants to get behind this project so we got to do it right and we got to protect businesses downtown," says Hayward.

"Everybody wants better public transit, so there is unity on that. Where the division is is where the rubber hits the road," says coun. Tanya Park.

Last week, the rapid transit implementation working group made several recommendations to council.

That included pausing the process so there can be more public consultation and also asking engineering staff to come back with alternative routes.

"We would like them to look at alternatives, the discussion about alternative routes is positive. We need to not just look at it from the transit perspective," says Gallacher.

"I haven't seen what the business impacts are going to be, we haven't seen what the social impacts are on these routes going forward, and we need that information.

Pending council direction, the Wharncliffe/Western Road route will be evaluated as an alternative to the Richmond route and tunnel preferred by city staff.

And a comparison of two lanes of BRT eliminating parking and two driving lanes on King to a loop that would see one lane on Queens and one on King.

In the meantime, city staff will continue public consultation.

Council is expected to finalize the rapid transit routes by June.