Election Blog – Jamie Gilcig – Mayor – Cornwall Ontario – Talking Cornwall Transit & Mobility

JG Election 300x250-02  TESTOne of the things I’ve always bragged about Cornwall is that you can drive anywhere in about ten minutes.

Really, I kid you not and we’re not a small village, but a city of nearly 50,000 people.   I know that’s changing and there are some issues now because of some poor city planning, but movement is critical to growth.

Cornwall transit does not offer Sunday service, and frankly it’s price point; while a consultant would brag that it’s competitive, isn’t something that induces ridership.

Our cost is pretty much the same whether we have a full or empty bus.

To me the purpose of having public transit is to help the wheels turn in our city.  It’s for those that don’t want or have to drive get around.  It’s for people to get to work and for people to get to where they want to go.

Right now it’s underused.   There are many reasons for that, some being that there is no Sunday service and a limited schedule.

I have championed now for several years the concept of having a pilot project of having free public transit.   Right now fares only bring in around 20% of the budget.

If we as a city could negotiate a pilot project of three years with the province and feds to offset the costs I think we’d see a dramatic rise in ridership and productivity.  I think the cost eventually from the extra subsidy would be more than offset from growth, and I think it would help retain young people and attract many to move to our city.

Cornwall has another issue in that we are essentially cut off from the rest of Canada and the world when it comes to inter-city transportation.  Via Rail has cut staff in Cornwall and the connections are few and pretty useless for commuters.

Since the city gave assistance to Delaney Buses the big bus companies abandoned Cornwall with very limited service and no bus hub in the city.

The problem with Delaney is that their service is very limited and you have to pre-book.

It may be time for Cornwall Transit or City Hall to explore options for external transit even though it’s not in their mandate.   People in Cornwall who go to school or work in outside areas need options.

And it’s not only for people to move from Cornwall to other communities, but for vice versa.   We can only grown if we attract people.  How will some come here if we don’t have realistic travel options?

For some reason the Kilger council have not made this a priority and have allowed service to dwindle in the last eight years.  Heck when the new shopping centre opened on Brookdale it was like parting the Dead Sea to get a stop moved up for employees and shoppers.

We compete with Brockville, Kingston, Ottawa, Alexandria, and the counties for new residents and business.   We need a smooth flow of people to help make that happen?

What do you think Cornwall voters.   You can email me at jamie@cornwallfreenews.com with your thoughts and please remember to vote on October 27, 2014.

And if you truly want change in Cornwall there is only one real option!

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  1. I dunno Jamie. I don’t see city transit as an issue that I would give any thought to so reducing the fare doesn’t affect me. You touched on commuting however and that piques my interest. Let’s be honest, there are better jobs in Ottawa and Montreal but the cost of living is much better in Cornwall and the surrounding communities. Ottawa is finally going forward with light rail. It’s going to be a few years but if Cornwall could feed into that with either more bus service or ideally commuter rail service into Ottawa, I know I’d be on board both literally and figuratively. As it is, I have the option of taking the Delaney bus but unfortunately one trip per day does not afford me the frequency I would like to allow for last minute changes in my schedule. Knowing I could have maybe 3 different departures and returns would make this much more attractive to me.

    Making Cornwall a more convenient place to live has a spinoff effect economically. We may be be working in Ottawa, but we’re living in Cornwall and area and that means we’re spending in Cornwall and area.

  2. There should be Sunday bus service in Cornwall, even if was only hourly. An idea might be to run it down Second St or Montreal Rd to / from the industrial park. Or perhaps a loop route.

    It’s not easy setting up commuter routes from / to Cornwall. If I recall an application has to be made to Transport Canada. You just can’t start up a service without the proper paperwork.

  3. Author

    Hugger you can do just about anything if you have the political will and patience to get it done.

  4. Does it make sense for the city to get involved with commuter transportation? IMHO no it doesn’t. It seems whenever any form of government gets involved in commuter transportation it ends up costing the taxpayers money. Just ask the Nation Municipality and Casselman about their experience running TEO, commuter transportation to / from Ottawa.

  5. Hugger if people are going to live in places like Cornwall, Casselman, Embrun, etc. then they sure will pay a lot for for transportation. There was an article lately on yahoo.ca about living in Toronto and living in the suburbs and the commute where cars are tied up on highways, causing pollution and health ailments, etc. Having a commuter train might be expensive and I won’t deny that but you get to your destination. I have bookmarked a spot somewhere on my favorites where they show towns in the US where they lost their jobs and have to commute to major cities using the trains. The commuter trains are being expanded here in Ottawa and just now they are constructing where the University of Ottawa is located. There was also a write up that the students will use it so as to not just live downtown but other areas. I am all for this idea of having some sort of commuter train for the towns outside of Ottawa. Cornwall will no longer have its industries and everything will continue to be produced in third world countries – companies want things made at cheap labor or otherwise Canada, US, Australia, etc. would have to go third world as well.

  6. Jamie there was a woman once on this paper from Cornwall who spoke that she works in Long Sault and had no means of transportation and said that some jobs are located in Long Sault and other surrounding communities. I was wondering if there is a system where private individuals who would make a company and be able to bring people to their jobs out of town OR have the province to help subsidize some sort of transportation. Not everyone drives or has a car. You take my daughter for instance who has thyroid disease has lost some of her eyesight where she does not have perfect vision nor the nerves of steel to drive and there are people out there like that and need public transit. People might complain and yell “oh my taxes” but understand what you are paying for. Transportation is very much needed even to Ottawa. People who work in Ottawa would have to make a good salary to commute otherwise they would have to live here and put up with the nightmares. Nothing in this world is free – you pay by the nose. There is no more Voyageur terminal in Cornwall and we were all shocked here in my household, the toilet paper of record being printed in little Brockville, the train has to be ordered on line before you get on one to go somewhere and I can go on and on. The people of Cornwall haven’t seen the real high taxes. My little hovel and the rent is outrageous for such a place. Well we live in Ottawa and it is going to cost. The industries are not coming back folks and I wish to God that they were but they are not and there is no recovery in site. We all have to put our heads together and come up with solutions.

  7. I lived in Casselman before moving to Cornwall. The cost for the bus was not that expensive if you take into account gas, insurance increase, parking fees, etc. A commuter train would be nice. But it has to be revenue neutral. Taxpayers cannot continue to fund these pipe-dreams of cities and municipalities.

  8. Hugger we know people who live in Embrun and there is another village besides that one as well where they live. I worked with people from Alfred, Plantagenet and other places and they wished that they had a commuter train a long time ago. A commuter train would work best to pick up the people everywhere. For Cornwall I would like to see the people of Long Sault and all the little towns be able to have a chance for work outside of their communities and maybe people would change for the better. People need good transportation for work and this is one of the plans that the world leaders talk about. When you commute by car it pollutes the atmosphere and I heard a radio announcer this morning talk about this on the Jewel radio station. In the US people who wish to live in the small communities are using the commuter train and it is way too much to commute by car – we don’t know how people can do this every single day and people get worn out and they cannot spend a good evening at all with their families. Commuting 60 miles every day one way and then back is too much. I sure do understand what you mean Hugger but people cannot continue in this manner or they will become very ill.

  9. There’s no disputing a commuter train is needed. But it has to make economical sense. I don’t think taxpayers would be willing to foot the bill for a commuter train unless it made sense.

  10. With regard to commuter bus service to/from Ottawa, Voyageur and Greyhound focus on their main markets such as Ottawa – Montreal. At one time many decades ago and prior to the construction of the 400-series highways in Eastern Ontario, the intercity buses travelled along Hwy 2 and Hwy 31. All Montreal – Toronto buses made a stop in downtown Cornwall, near Pitt & Second and the Cornwall – Ottawa service was well patronized. At that time, passenger train service to/from Montreal was good and involved up to 7-trains per day in each direction.

    VIA Rail concentrates on their main intercity market, Montreal – Toronto . . . by offering fast express trains that bypass the smaller towns. Brockville is conveniently located on both the Ottawa – Toronto and Montreal – Toronto runs, hence the 7:00AM daily weekday train to t Toronto and the late evening return train.

    Voyageur bus lines unfortunately screwed up on the Ottawa -Cornwall service, by abandoning a stop/pickup in the downtown core . . . . Delaney does multiple AM pick-ups in Cornwall and multiple PM drop-offs. Voyageur actually opposed Delaney’s application to provide commuter service between Cornwall and Ottawa, only to discover that there was in fact a hidden untapped market that they had never served.

    With regard to Cornwall Airport, there is no way that the Feds could extend the runway without doing something similiar on the Quebec side. Les Cedres Airport measures 2500-ft against Cornwall Airport at 3,500-ft. Only when there is 5,000-ft runway between Vaudreuil-Dorion and the Ontario border could we expect a 5,000-ft runway at Cornwall . . . except why should the Feds want 2 x 5,000-ft runways so close to each other?

    Perhaps a discussion with Delaney management about a perhaps twice weekly mid-morning bus from Cornwall to Ottawa, making multiple pick-ups across Cornwall, could explore some ideas. Delaney’s big bus carries some 40-riders . . . sometimes 50-people aboard a bus with 56-seats. So there is little additional space to accommodate additional riders on the evening return trip to Cornwall. I doubt whether Delaney would have any interest in a bigger bus (articulated to double decker.

    Perhaps some negotiation with MegaBus management may explore ideas about early morning buses to Montreal (Vaudreuil commuter train station) and Toronto (multiple pick-ups across Cornwall and Brockville, to interline with a MegaBus or Coach Canada express bus from Kingston at 8:00AM to Toronto). There may be enough early morning riders to warrant a twice-weekly early AM bus from Cornwall to Toronto.

  11. Mr. Valentine you remind me of the better times in Cornwall when they had the Voyageur bus downtown on Adams Avenue off Pitt Street and it was a good spot for people who could walk or take the city buses back home. Voyageur put themselves on Tollgate Road and then left Cornwall and now whether it is the bus system which is finished or the train system again finished it has isolated Cornwall completely.

    There are a number of people who commute everyday to Ottawa and back and I see the O-Train everyday on our morning walks in the park and I think about the people of Cornwall if they only had such a system it would be good since it is mighty hard to drive here to Ottawa and back. OC Transpo offered Cornwall that kind of a train system and to build the tracks and to offer the Cornwall people the use of OC Transpo buses for the same price and Bare Ass turned it down. Now the people have no other choice but to use the Delaney bus system. I don’t know what will happen if a new mayor comes in for Cornwall. I see mayor Jim Watson’s signs all around in my area and elsewhere and he was known to be a popular mayor and might get in again.

  12. I like your proposal Jamie. The actual contribution from fares to the city is minimal compared to the contribution a transit-free system would make in the city. Add to that proposal an intelligent network of safe bike lanes everywhere and you might have a city that’s considered resident friendly and that just may be one of the more important considerations any family/entrepreneur would make before settling here or for that matter leaving.

  13. Author

    Brian there’s also a cost factor in collecting those minimal fares.

  14. City council devoted time on their agenda to bikes and an old model bike was brought into council for display but perhaps equal time should have been spent of the issue that Jamie has discussed regarding Public Transit.

    The reality is that many people do not ride bikes, many people realize that in inclement weather a bike ride down a city street is not always the safest method of travel for getting around the city. To assume that everyone will use more bike lanes and that we need more bike lanes is not taking into consideration that many will continue to use their vehicles as a mode of transportation and others will depend and should have available the best possible bus service/ transportation routes in their community.

    Bikes also leave out the factor of those with specific disabilities who depend on public transit and or the use of a gas driven vehicle to be provided with the best service possible available in their neighbourhood.

    Not everyone will hop on a bike to navigate the city and to expect people to do so is quite unreasonable. Good Public Transit is a must.

    I support Jamie’s proposal due to the fact that this is an important issue in our community.

  15. One only has to look at the parking lots of many commercial stores to realize that people arrived at those destinations via car/truck and public transportation. Not everyone is out shopping on a bike.

    Public transit certainly is an important community issue and thank you again Jamie for addressing this in our community.

  16. We already have concerned business owners who do not want bike lanes obstructing areas that should be designated parking space for their customers. If other accessible parking in not available, then street parking draws customers into shops and stores. Many people could not drive around a block area for a long time waiting for a parking space to become available, depending on the nature of the business and how long people are inside the store/shop. People will only tolerate this for so long then move onto some other business or area.

    Many people with a disability depend on the ease of parking in specific/easy access areas, this must never be forgotten in any plan.

    If more bikes lanes are introduced then exactly where do these people park if that space is now a lane for bikes and not for car parking?

    Take into consideration also, that because a person’s disability may not be obvious it does not mean that a person is not coping with some very serious medical issue such as a heart patient who make be face certain limitations when walking etc.

    In order for business to survive there must be parking available and public transit available. On weekends /Sunday people would welcome the opportunity to attend church service, visit friends and take in other local events, if Public Transit was made available.

    Free Public Transit would be an added incentive to many offering them the opportunity to take the bus, enjoy the ride and arrive at their destination safely.

    Ridership would increase and the feedback to the community as a whole would be a positive one.

  17. People really need to get out more and broaden their horizons. Take a look at any of the more exciting cities across Canada with huge community participation and great business opportunities and you’ll see bike lanes right through the main core. I agree with the necessity of safe and easy access to businesses but don’t agree with this idea that bike lanes conflict with that. In fact bike lanes dramatically increase participation in downtown business core areas particularly because of the safe and easy access. The only ones that really benefit from this out-dated urban development perspective are those who don’t want to see the downtown core being developed in favor of east or west development but they too are denying the obvious….perhaps the reason people aren’t out more on bikes is simply because it just isn’t safe out there without these bike lanes. For more on this policy I might suggest a gander at

  18. People do need to broaden their horizons in this community, we still have people trying to convince others we should be living back in the dark ages re other important issues.

    The bike lane concern came from some business owners not a personal perspective only. There happens to be other businesses in this community that are not part of the downtown core and these people also must have available parking for their customers.

    If you had a small business in an area of this city that depended on your clientele having available parking you would understand the importance of this issue, it is not all about bikes.

    Also, the downtown core has suffered for many years and it will take more than bikes and bike lanes to restore what once was a booming spot where people actually spend a lot of time and did shop.

  19. Brian, when did you last stop and take a look at the age and ability of many of the senior residents of our community? Not all, but many are experiencing issues with walking let alone biking, many have serious leg and hip issues and other health issues and they enjoy having safe and easy parking available for them. If you ever watched many times even this parking is lacking at various times and these people are made to linger or move on.

    Since many seniors enjoy the shopping experience, I and others do not think some of these people will be able to hop on a bike and make it to the downtown core, thus why so many are always shopping at the larger mall areas.

    For many this is also a drug/medication issue because of the one stop shopping, should they arrive by bus or car, they are able to browse, purchase things they require, and also have their medication prescriptions filled out. Many times this is accessible while they shop then they can pick up their medication, leave the store and head home or go to a restaurant with ample parking to enjoy a meal before they head back home.

    So bike lanes although good in some areas are not always the perfect solution for an ill and or aging population who require easy access and the consideration of this from our community.

    Medical conditions such as hip, lung, leg and heart issues are a concern for many of these people. Some are using oxygen support.

    Cornwall has attracted many seniors to our area and will continue to do so. Issues such a transportation, basic human compassion for another and the sensibility that all seniors are not able to bike their way to the downtown core for a shopping or dining experience must always be taken into consideration.

    Hopefully those in good enough health can enjoy such a time, but please keep in mind the many who must due to health concerns open to other possibilities such as the larger malls offer and good transportation.

  20. Bike lane planning in this city is a farce …and no wonder, look around the council table, maybe 2 out of 10 could ride a bicycle past the length of their shadow.

    Meandering paths are best suited to walkers and handicap conveyances.

    Coherent and practical bike path planning should include straight-line and direct routes (that are dedicated or at least safe) to cyclists — not hugging highways.

    For instance, a route parallel to Second (perhaps First or Third) with a lane protected with posts, pylons or curbing …or a dedicated bicycle path between the old canal and Second Street — Would that be too much too ask before further developing the Domtar lands and Lamoureux Park?

    That’s the way to encourage cycling as a transit alternative.

    Councillors should butt out the smoke$, quit the junk food and snack$, and stop dropping our money at bar$ after meetings; instead, spend the bucks you save by checking out locales with serious cycling networks, or heaven forbid, instead of surfing for porn, visit some credible municipal planning and transportation sites.

  21. @One Who Cares:
    There are many seniors, active seniors, who would genuinely love to ride their bikes if only the streets were safe for them. Clean sidewalks are a much bigger problem. Your suggestion that we can’t have bike lanes because seniors won’t be able to park their cars close to business seems almost opportunistic. You don’t think these seniors are concerned about their kids and grandkids who need these bike lanes? Or perhaps you think that seniors want to live in a town that’s seemingly designed to attract seniors at the expense of the rest of the family? Do you not think that would be the last place they’d want to live…..a community that neglects its responsibility to the youth in not providing a safe passage to school or the library or even public transportation on Sunday simply because they’re not buying at the moment. Do you not think that it delights seniors to see kids on bikes or skateboards rather than sitting in the front seat of Mom’s car tweeking while she drives them around. There are plenty of spaces for seniors to park and within distance of most businesses. A bike lane won’t deny them a thing.

  22. @Brian,

    There certainly are many wonderful active seniors and if you read I did mention that fact that those who were able to enjoy activities such as biking are to be congratulated and so it should be but that should not detract from the fact that there are many who are not able to take part in such activities due to health issues.

    I did not say that we can’t have bike lanes, what I said was that it will take more than bike lanes to restore the downtown core and since a multitude of people never or seldom go to the downtown core in the first place to shop those who do must have adequate transportation also and availability to parking especially seniors with disabilities that make walking any distance a hardship.

    I am uncertain what part of the community you live in but we certainly do have access to wonderful sidewalks that more than accommodate people. youth, and walking children and yes, even skateboards.

    So please do not distort my words. By all means children should be active and there always should be great consideration given to sports/safe passage and such.

    I somehow think you missed the entire point of my previous comments because I do fully support Sunday bus service if you read it. Read again and it will confirm the fact that I was in agreement of free bus service.

    In no way do I see this community neglecting the youth.

    We do have safe sidewalks and we do have many other areas were children play, have access to park areas and such.

    What you mention about the available parking certainly does not reflect what some business owners feel regarding adding bike lanes in front of their business areas. In fact a recent letter to the editor in a paper confirms that very concern regarding their business.

    Also, a community that neglects the ill and aging senior population is a community in need of awakening.

    I feel the appeal of our community to many is the fact that we do have safe streets, wonderful sidewalks in most areas, access to parks, bike trails and many other great things our city has to offer. So to even suggest that this city is geared only toward seniors is most inaccurate. Neither can we turn our back on a growing and aging population and the many concerns they share about wanting to be kept safe and also being able to enjoy a healthy, or as healthy as possible lifestyle.

    Seeing children safe should and must be a priority in any community if the community truly cares, but it cannot focus only on that alone because again I say, we have an aging population that also deserve respect and consideration and yes for those who do have grandchildren and for others, the joy, health and safety of children should always remain the highest priority.

    Enjoy your biking!

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