Western Board of Governors have officially passed the final Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route that will pass through campus at a much anticipated meeting on Thursday.
The room was packed with local and campus media as Western’s “conditions” to the city for the BRT to go through campus had generated speculation as to if the city and the university were on the same page with rapid transit plans.
Western originally outlined 15 demands to London before allowing BRT on campus — with many of them putting the onus on the city.
The document with all fifteen conditions can be viewed below.
Some conditions included the city bearing the cost of pedestrian-safety infrastructure on the BRT's route, including at Western and Sarnia roads, which has been raised as an issue on campus. The condition included provisions to build underground tunnel crossings.
Other points included BRT bearing the future operating costs within the campus core including cleaning, infrastructure repairs and maintenance/snow removal as well as that the BRT must not be converted to light rail in the future.
Board member Michael Lerner, said during the meeting that the city believes rapid transit is perhaps the most important issue for London currently as well as being a crucial issue on campus.
In attendance was London Mayor Matt Brown, who is an ex-officio member of the board. He said that BRT was something the city council fully stands behind. He emphasized that it was an important day as the University’s highest body considered the rapid transit motion and it was important to him that all parties worked collaboratively.
Lerner added that negotiations with the city have been ongoing and it was unfortunate that those conversations were being labelled as “us versus them.” The route chosen to go through campus was neither Western’s or the city’s first choice but compromises were made.
Lerner acknowledged that the original wording of the motion could have been seen as more adversarial.
The original motion stated: “The Board of Governors approve the Lambton Drive routing of Bus Rapid Transit through Western’s campus, subject to the list of conditions provided in Annex 4.”
Lerner said an updated version of the motion will reflect the “conditions” as issues that can be negotiated between the city and Western — with the University taking a hardline on certain issues and reaching a compromise on others. The conditions won't be a prerequisite for approving the proposed route.
The updated motion states: The Board of Governors approve the Lambton Drive routing on Bus Rapid Transit through Western’s campus, subject to resolution of issues all to the University’s satisfaction.
The board membership, including Mayor Brown seemed happy with the updated wording as it passed through without further extensive debate.
Board chair Hanny Hassan addressed a media scrum after the meeting where he largely reiterated Western’s plans to work with the city on issues as they come up.
Question by the @uwogazette: Western's BRT conditions involved pedestrian-safety measures such as potential tunnels at Western/Sarnia (1/2)— Hamza Tariq (@hamzatariq_) January 26, 2017
But with BRT still at least a decade away, how does that address immediate pedestrian safety concerns on such intersections? (2/2)— Hamza Tariq (@hamzatariq_) January 26, 2017
Hassan: The campus master plan will address concerns in the short term but students have spoke out about safety issues related to tunnels— Hamza Tariq (@hamzatariq_) January 26, 2017