Rick Downes on the Wellington X

At the Mark the Park event, a couple of people said to me that they thought Rick Downes was in favour of the extension. On our Mayoral Candidate Positions page, we observe that he is in fact now against it. I thought it was appropriate to let the candidate himself clarify things, so I dropped him a line. Here is what he says:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Wellington Street Extension. Categorically, I am against the Wellington Street Extension. For my three terms as King’s Town District Councillor I was opposed to the Wellington Street Extension.  The reasons that I heard from my constituents at the time were that this extension would cut residents off from the Inner Harbour waterfront as it would cut through Doug Fluhrer Park. This park is an important recreational space for residents who enjoy the space by the water.

When I was elected to Cataraqui District, I looked at the issue with an open mind since my constituents use public transit, walk and bike to go downtown. North Kingston is “cut off” from the downtown by large brownfield spaces and there are sections of Montreal Street caused pedestrians some concern.  The long stretch by the old “I Cohen” site just south of Railway is an example.  I explored with staff the idea of having an exclusive “transit” and “bikeway” through the park.

As I explored this concept, Mary Farrar began her incredibly positive and thoughtful project to get our community thinking about the Inner Harbour. The Bailey Broom Factory debate was a pivot point for me.  I realized that there should be no barrier whatsoever to residents enjoying the park and the Wellington Street extension would interfere with that enjoyment.

I am against the Wellington Street extension and I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this blog to ensure that the public is aware of my position.

People will no doubt want to ask more questions, but I say, good on Rick for listening, and I take this shift as a positive sign of our influence so far, and a good sign for the future. Maybe we can get other candidates to change their minds. At the Williamsville All-Candidates’ Meeting last night, the aforementioned and formidable Mary managed to get council candidate Ed Smith to concede he had to take another look at his support for the WSE. We should work on Dorothy Hector who seems to be trying to perch on the fence. And we need to get to council candidates in all districts, because after all, every one of the 13 councillors has an equal say in decisions.

— Laura Murray

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