Deceptions, traffic webs, Booth Street and Lebreton Flats East

I have, in the past, lied at work. I think a lot of us do it. Maybe we’re trying to cover up a mistake, maybe we’re trying to buy more time to get something done, maybe we’re trying to avoid a confrontation, whatever. People do this.

As you go on about your life, you learn more about tangled webs and deception, and (generally speaking) it’s really not worth it to lie. Often, you’ll just wind up making everything worse and more stressful for yourself. Being honest and straightforward is one of the best characteristics you can develop in the workplace (and in life).

This brings us Booth Street.

Booth Street is a colossal fuck-up by the city. It’s a busy street. It’s a main route for bicyclists and drivers. It’s a transit station. And it’s running right through the biggest development opportunity in this city since maybe the canal.

It’s a wide street, with lots of space. It was a perfect spot to integrate different forms of transportation and demonstrate the city’s commitment to safe, wise, equitable urban planning.

And, yeah, they fucked it up. They fucked it up so bad, they’re already re-doing it.

The re-development of Booth Street, coupled with changes to the Parkway (and by extension, construction of the War Museum) meant that we were getting a beefed up street and bridge. So much so, that it required a cement median. It was load-bearing or something.

Prior to this, while the NCC was still happy letting most of Lebreton Flats rot, there was a tiny intersection along Booth Street. Fleet Street connected with Booth at a T-juncture, and there was, temporarily, the ability to turn left off of Fleet onto Booth.

Bear in mind, this was never meant to be permanent. It was a favour, always meant to be temporary and that maybe never should have been granted. All city plans stated that access to Booth via Fleet was never in the plans.

(And, to be absolutely clear, this is undeniably and unequivocally the right decision. Allowing a left turn onto Booth would encourage more driving through the existing Lebreton/City Centre/Little Italy area. Booth is already too much of a thoroughfare. The existing and future Lebreton Flats developments can’t follow a suburban, car-centric design. They’re right next door to the core, they have to prioritize transit, walking and biking…and, yeah, discourage driving.)

So with this absolutely essential median, the former temporary left turn was cut off. This caused much consternation to those who had grown accustomed to the temporary benevolence (and now want to open up Wellington and Booth to left turns), but it didn’t actually change much in terms of long-term planning.

Oh, except it took up more space. And when they designed the bridge, they decided not to have any bike infrastructure (and the pedestrian/transit rider infrastructure wasn’t super ideal, either).

(By the way, initially they designed the bridge with bike lanes, but then some car-slavering pol or planner decided to change it for no good reason.)

As people asked for bike lanes, and as residents of “Lebreton Flats East” initially sought their Fleet Street left turn, they were all told it was impossible because without the median, the bridge would collapse and all of Lebreton Flats would be sucked into an underworld vortex…or some shit like that.

Wouldn’t ya know it? That wasn’t true!

The median is coming out, and Booth Street is going to be improved. I know I’m only giving a rough sketch of the situation (and I’m sure I’m obscuring a few details someone will find important)–is it as good as it should be?, maybe, probably not–but whatever, I don’t care about that right now. Here’s what I care about.

The city fucked up. Some planner fucked up. And city staff decided that instead of owning up and saying either “we fucked up” or “fuck you, bicycles, die in fucking traffic accident, there are cars that need drivin'”, they lied and blamed it all on the median.

So now, we have a public that is (even more) distrustful of planners. We’ve spent a ton of time fighting about this, when they should have just done initially what they’re doing now and started fixing the bridge.

And they made it seem like the city was trying to pull one on the residents of Lebreton Flats East. Rather than explaining to those residents why it was unwise to have that turn at Fleet Street (and, similarly, why we can’t have left turns at Wellington and Booth to make up for the left turn they “lost”), they lent credence to any grievance the residents had about getting screwed by the city.

And, you know, if they’d just been honest and straightforward from the start–telling them why there can’t be left turns onto Booth and explaining that there never should have been one in the first place–most people probably would have accepted it. Not everyone, of course, but most people are reasonable if you’re straight with them.

Next time, opt for the truth, even if it’s a more difficult conversation.

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