By Chad Ingram
By Chad Ingram
County of Haliburton will continue to go without any form of public
transit because there is not the political will at the council table to
create one. That’s it. That’s the reason, and that’s the only reason.
Period. Full stop.
covered Haliburton County council for more than a decade. This is the
fourth county council I have watched discuss, and do nothing about, the
lack of public transportation in the community. It’s always the same
rhetoric – too complicated, too expensive – and the same sort of
helpless lamentation, that if only something could be done, as if the
power to get something done is not present in the people sitting around
the table. It is only present in them.
week, county councillors decided they would do nothing about
transportation in 2019. Wait, sorry, they decided they would “continue
to monitor trends in rural transit,” leave $50,000 they budgeted for
transportation work in 2019 sitting in an account, and revisit the issue
during 2020 budget discussions. Which is the same as doing nothing, all
the while vowing to themselves they would not let the issue die.
was indication they would “wait and hope” that, apparently through
magic, a solution would eventually present itself. Waiting and hoping is
not a strategy. Waiting and hoping is not leadership. Waiting and
hoping is another way to continue to kick this particular proverbial can
down the road.
what the previous county council did last year, when it spent $50,000
on a transportation implementation plan from a Toronto consulting firm.
That plan suggested the creation of a booked, shared ride service, laid
out a potential framework and estimated costs. That plan will not be
implemented, at least not this year. What it did was buy county
councillors nearly 12 months of time in an election year. Waiting for
the implementation plan to be presented to council made it seem like the
county was actually going to be doing something about transportation.
council is going to revisit the issue during 2020 budget discussions,
meaning more than two years will have passed since the commissioning of
the meantime, the educated volunteers who comprised the Rural
Transportation Options committee have had enough, and are basically
calling it quits after a decade of trying to get county council to do
something about transit. And it’s very difficult to blame them.
a transit system of some kind is key to the community’s ability to
retain its youth, which is key to its future. Yes, it’s a complicated
and expensive problem. Solving it will require creative thinking and,
yes, taking financial, and therefore political, risk. County councillors
need to be willing to take that risk. In the meantime, we continue to
get nowhere fast on the transit issue.