Letter: Former Nelson councillor questions suggested location of new transit exchange
To The Editor:
On Tuesday, Nelson City Council will make a decision whether the 300-block of Victoria Street will become a parking lot for buses, a transit exchange. I’m opposed to this.
Many of the people most directly affected by this decision (home- and property-owners, businesses, service providers) have expressed frustration with the public consultation. I know, as a former city councillor, that this is a common complaint. In this case, however, I agree.
For example, surely if only six stakeholders show up to discuss the project, as happened, you know something’s missing in your outreach. Maybe people are busy with the more immediate crises of the pandemic, and more time and effort are required to properly consult with them.
Beyond that, the consultation should have been much broader, with more alternatives. I believe the downtown belongs to all of us. This compact area, three streets by seven blocks, is the centre and the heart of our community, where people come to shop, eat, meet and receive services.
We benefit greatly from our authentic downtown as a place of community and commerce. This amenity is rare and envied by many cities. I can’t accept that an entire block of that small and precious area should be largely dominated by buses, potentially seven at a time.
Don’t get me wrong. I like public transit. It’s critical for fighting climate change and helping people get around. BC Transit’s argument that the best practice is to locate transit exchanges in city centres may be true for large cities.
Not for Nelson.
We have better things to do with our downtown, greater dreams and visions for how it can serve and enliven our community. In Nelson, the transit exchange belongs on the edge of our heart, not in the centre of it.
I urge Council to not approve the loss of the 300-block of Victoria Street to our community and to consider other sites. A transit exchange is not the best and highest use for our beloved downtown.
We can do better.
Donna Macdonald, Nelson, BC