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Metro column: This time it’s different

By DJ Kelly November 12, 2010
The first meeting of every new council is always the most interesting. It is where the rubber meets the road and we get an idea of what will happen over the next three years.

The first meeting ofevery new council isalways the most interesting.It is where therubber meets the roadand we get an idea ofwhat will happen overthe next three years.

The very first post on my blog was about the first council meeting after the 2007 election.

The post was titled “Did Bronco suddenly go insane while I was tying my shoes?”

At that all-important first meeting, Mayor Dave Bronconnier tabled and pushed through infrastructure projects totalling $1.3 billion, including the West LRT and several new recreation centres. The majority of these were never discussed in detail during the election — not that anyone was truly paying attention, anyway.

The ironic thing, however, is that in that first blog post I talked about how I agreed with one pundit’s assessment that these might be the wrong priorities and there was not nearly enough public input to label them a priority in the first place.

That talking head is now known as Mr. Mayor. Naheed Nenshi at the time talked about the lack of rationale for the West LRT route and questioned why a spur line to the airport was designed to come off the imaginary centre north line instead of off the existing northeast line.

Any of this sound vaguely familiar?

Nenshi was even quoted at the time as saying, “I’m offended that council spent $1.3 billion in their first meeting without any public input.”

Flash forward to this past Monday and we saw a council that could have easily gone the same way as its predecessor.

The biggest items on the agenda this week were the airport tunnel (which would allow a LRT spur line from the northeast C-Train route) and the southeast LRT, two things eerily similar to what was discussed in that fateful first council meeting in 2007.

This time council pulled back in all the right places.

Council asked for a report on the airport tunnel to nail down the actual price, and used a deadline extension on the provincial GreenTRIPl funding needed to build the southeast LRT to determine what exactly the project should look like.

With an election like the one we just had, they know we’re watching now more than we were in 2007, and the public wouldn’t allow a mayor to push his personal agenda over rookie aldermen.

Obviously proponents of both projects are upset, but it’s nice to see a council actually willing to take the time to involve the public and ensure it makes the right choices.