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by Daniel Gloade on October 19, 2015

There is nothing more convenient than driving to your destination and parking nearby.  It is no surprise then that we select this method of transportation a vast majority of the time.  Similarly, we are accustomed to the public and private sector doing its upmost to ensure that this method of travel is available.

Unfortunately, driving to your destination will become more and more unlikely.  Eventually, cities cannot accommodate the ever-increasing demand for roads and parking places.   Kitchener Waterloo is no exception.

The government for the Region of Waterloo feels that we have reached the saturation point of personal vehicle transportation.  While acknowledging that the majority of people still drive to his or her destination, the city wants to encourage people to use alternatives such as bicycles, walking and public transportation.  You can read further details about this policy by reading the article from the Record.  You only need to click here.

As the article states, only a small percentage of people use alternative transportation to get around.  I confess that I travel by car and do not use public transportation.

One of the principle problems with this policy, however, is the transition between car and alternative transportation.  One example is the construction for the LRT.  I suspect that many businesses are hurting because accessing that business is now inconvenient.  Public transportation is a benefit to the entire region, but the cost of transportation is disproportionately on the back of local businesses near the construction zones.

The Region of Waterloo can argue that the LRT will eventually benefit these businesses.  This does not address two problems, however.  The first is cash flow.  Businesses will need to borrow in order to pay current bills with the hope that the LRT will improve business later.  Borrowing money has an interest expense.

Second, many small businesses rent their workspace.  Being near public transportation increases the value of the location, not the business.  The business gets more revenues but the landowner will likely charge increased rent.

I feel that the Region of Waterloo should take all steps to try to alleviate the disproportionate suffering of local businesses affected by the LRT.

I was surprised by an article in the Record in which the local government was considering free parking on Saturdays and evenings.   You can read the article here.

This measure should have been implemented when construction started.

If it has not already done so, the Region of Waterloo should temporarily reduce the property taxes for businesses affected by the construction.  If business owners far from the construction complain that it is unfair that their taxes should increase due to LRT Construction, they can be reminded that land values near the LRT will increase and, with it, property tax revenues.  It is an investment by all taxpayers and all taxpayers benefit.

On a personal level, I was dismayed by an article at the Record.  An office complex is going to be built in the parking lot of Waterloo Town Square.  You can read it here.

I like going to the Princess Theatre.  The only nearby parking, however, is Waterloo Town Square.  I don’t know how I am going to reach this theatre in the future.  I guess it is human nature.  It is easy to advocate things in theory, but your perspective changes when your plan affects you personally.

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