City backs new transit service to Selwyn
But two residents tell council the city should not be adding more fossil fuel-burning buses
A new public transit service to Lakefield, Curve Lake, Ennismore and Bridgenorth will be starting next spring or summer as a three-year pilot project, over the objections of two citizens.
Graeme Marrs and Dr. Ken Ranney, the candidate for the Stop Climate Change party in the recent federal election, both asked council not to start the transit program because it would use fossil fuel-burning buses.
Ranney — a medical doctor and pathologist — said diesel fuel is cancer-producing and that kids living on busy streets are six times more likely to develop cancer.
Marrs urged council not to add more buses on the road “that scientists say are causing our own extinction.”
But council gave final approval to the plan at a meeting Monday.
A 15-passenger city transit bus will be used on weekdays. A provincial government grant of $1.48 million has been given to Selwyn Township to operate the service.
It could be popular: there’s currently no bus service between Peterborough and Selwyn Township and a city staff report estimates 20,000 rides in the first year of the new service.
Although the report estimates the service would cost the city $360,800 to operate in its first year, that cost would be more than offset by contract and fare revenue — it’s expected to turn an annual profit of about $33,200.
Meanwhile, council also voted Monday to buy four new 15-seat buses: two for the Selwyn routes, and two for the existing municipal Community bus service. The city, provincial and federal government can split the cost to buy four 15-passenger buses under the new Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, according to a city staff report.
The total cost would be $800,000, but the city’s share would be $213,360 — and council plans to dip into the city’s transit reserve fund for that money.
Also on Monday’s agenda:
Homeless shelter beds
A new shelter for the homeless will be set up this winter in the dining hall at Murray Street Baptist Church this winter, with people from the Brock Mission as staff.
City council gave final approval to the new plan to fund the program at Murray Street on a trial basis from January to April.
The plan carried with no council debate, and no delegations from any citizens.
The now-defunct Warming Room emergency shelter previously occupied the lower level of Murray Street Baptist Church; the congregation closed the lower level for renovations on July 1.
Operating the new program in the church’s dining hall is expected to cost $248,400 for a year.
While that’s more than the $161,000 the city budgeted for emergency cots this year, the staff report states the idea is for the shelter staff to be paid to try to house people permanently.
Meanwhile an architect’s report recommends $80,000 in work required to the dining room at Murray Street Baptist Church so it can serve as a safe overnight dormitory. Council also voted Monday to have the city bear those renovation costs.
Because the dining hall is about to undergo construction, the space won’t likely be ready by Nov. 1.
In the meantime the cots for the homeless in the auditorium of the Peterborough Public Library may continue to be offered, states the city staff report states.
Satellite police station
Council voted a final time to spend more than double its original budget to set up a small office for Peterborough Police in the downtown Peterborough Transit terminal: instead of $50,000, the office is now expected to cost $116,000.
The previous city council approved a plan in September 2018 to convert an unused commercial space at the transit station on Simcoe Street into an office for police.
The idea was to have a satellite office, staffed sporadically by police, to increase security at the transit terminal, which sees roughly 13 police calls monthly.
A city staff report from 2018 estimated the cost to convert the space at $50,000 — but now the cost has ballooned to $116,000, which is $66,000 more than planned.
Councillors plan to take the additional $66,000 from a $100,000 fund in the city’s budget for replacement of various flooring in the Peterborough Police station on Water Street.
Construction could start soon by Mortlock Construction and be completed by January.
Council voted a final time to offer two hours of free parking everywhere downtown on Fridays in November.
It means two hours of free parking on Nov. 1, 8, 15 and 22 (which covers Black Friday and other pre-Christmas sales).
Council also voted a final time to set a two-hour limit on parking in the new lot at Library Commons at Aylmer and Simcoe Streets.
The Peterborough Lakefield Line Run bus service ended in March 2015. A new public transit service to Lakefield, Curve Lake, Ennismore and Bridgenorth will be starting next spring or summer as a three-year pilot project, over the objections of two citizens.