YKF? Why not?

The Region of Waterloo International Airport (YKF) has the released the results of their online new destination twitter contest. As you can see, Halifax is a top choice, which was a safe bet all along.

The ability of local travelers (and the tourists we attract) to fly directly in and out of the region is very attractive, and helps to boost our economic vitality. Service levels are increasing, with Bearskin growing again from four to five daily trips to Ottawa (having launched the route with three just a few short years ago). WestJet is also flying new seasonal service to Vancouver, but you’ll remember that the “seasonal” service to Calgary was eventually made a permanent fixture given early adoption and passenger volume.

There is a serious environmental challenge to deal with, as well as the impact of noise on nearby properties. Flight has a bad wrap for emissions, and is often unaccounted for in international negotiations on climate. I hope that with the new Aviation Program at the University of Waterloo, our community could become a focal point for research into improving the environmental performance of flight, and keep the world connected without doing damage to our atmosphere.

However, until rail service is improved (you can trust there will be future blog posts here promoting high speed rail), we can expect passengers to choose flight, especially for distances beyond the Windsor-Quebec Corridor. That being said, if you’ve never taken the train to Vancouver, or Halifax, I can heartily recommend both adventures!

If the choice is flight, we can at least eliminate the trip to Toronto for trips served at our local airport. To better support the Region’s investment in this facility (including the new Combined Airport / Fleet Maintenance and Firehall Services Facility), we need to begin serving the airport with Grand River Transit.

Such service could also link Breslau to Kitchener and Cambridge via Victoria Street and Fountain Street, with possible connections through to Conestoga College. Not only would this serve both flight passengers and airport employees, but the route would represent a continuation of the commitment to connect our Townships (begun with the current service to St. Jacobs and Elmira).

Our airport is a critical element of both our economic health and our transportation infrastructure. Let’s help it to succeed, and do what is needed for all our major services: demand the best performance, while delivering the resources that make excellence possible.

Pipeline feels like giving up

I was happy to hear John (@JMacArch) asking this very important question of our local candidates, and James (@KingandOttawa) spreading the word…

KingandOttawa RT @JMacArch: Are pols along Grand Rvr elected in ’10 deciding on multi-B $ pipeline from L Erie or growth with present resources? #Vote WR

This is a fundamental issue, and represents another opportunity for our local policy to evolve.  Here are some of my thoughts on the proposed pipeline to Lake Erie, and why it concerns me:

  • our perceived water scarcity in this region has developed a cluster of researchers and experts on the subject and technologies of water conservation and efficiency.  As the whole world faces greater challenges posed on water supplies by our changing climate, we can combine our local expertise and entrepreneurial inspiration to provide the support they need.  These are just some of our current and future local green jobs.
  • we have a tremendous amount of wasted water in our daily lives, at our workplaces, and through the delivery system itself.  In addressing these losses, we can find new supply within our current and projected capacity.
  • the cost of the project was projected by the Region at $500 Million over a decade ago, and as John notes it could easily climb so much higher.  What else can we do with those hard earned tax dollars?  How much are we willing to spend to avoid local improvements in favour of a far-flung gamble?
  • we’re not getting off the hook that easily regarding the protection of our local sources on the surface and below.  Let’s improve our land use planning to secure the water that’s right here, where we need it, and where it brings our wild spaces to life.
  • check out the comments that GREN (Grand River Environmental Network) made in this Record article by Greg Mercer for this year’s Earth Day.
  • we are most definitely speaking of a pipeline to Erie, not Huron (as many folks may recall was an original option).  The laws that govern our Great Lakes prevent the mass movement of water between the lakes’ watersheds, and Nature provides free of charge a proven way to return water to Erie (the Grand).
  • it’s all summed up rather well (harhar, no pun intended) by the University of Waterloo’s Rob de Loë, as quoted in this Imprint Article last year:

Rob de Loë, professor and research chair in water policy and governance at the University of Waterloo feels that the issue of a pipeline becomes a philosophical question concerning whether or not we respect natural limits. “The pipeline suggests that we are not prepared to change our existing ways of water use,” he said. “I don’t feel that it is necessary right now. Just because we can take water from Lake Erie doesn’t mean we should.”

The Region must act accordingly to create adequate policies for both water conservation and land use planning. “We can go further” said de Loë. “We need to make efficient use of existing supplies before we entertain an alternative supply.”

The current Canadian average for water use is 329 litres of water per person, per day. “This number is very high and speaks to our attitudes as Canadians — that we maintain an endless water supply,” said de Loë.

So, let’s challenge each other to be wise with our water, and apply such incredible sums of tax dollars to projects that move us forward into a more sustainable and resilient future, instead of sliding backwards into old ways of planning that no longer serve us well.