The Greater Burnside Business Association (GBBA) is not going to accept the abandonment of plans to build a transit terminal in the Park without a fight.
GBBA Chair Sean O'Boyle, on behalf of the Association's board and membership, has sent a letter to Eddie Robar, director of Metro Transit, calling upon the transit provider to meet with the GBBA and explain why it has reversed the position laid out in its most recent five-year strategic plan. The letter has also been circulated to all members of regional council.
"Over the past number of years we have regularly surveyed our member business owners and employees. The single most common response that we consistently receive is that Metro Transit service needs to be greatly improved," O'Boyle says in the letter. "Business owners are finding it increasingly difficult to attract employees to work and remain working in Burnside, and Metro Transit Service is a significant factor in businesses deciding to locate or remain in the park for that reason."
The letter goes on to say GBBA members lauded the decision to build a transit terminal at Akerley Boulevard and John Savage Drive as a viable first step toward improving transit service within Burnside. That makes the recent decision to drop it that much more difficult to understand, especially the part where it can be replaced with a minor $35,000 per year operational adjustment.
In speaking about the issue, O'Boyle says, "Indeed, in past discussions with HRM and Metro Transit, we tried to identify short, medium and long-term solutions. Route realignment was supposedly the short-term measure and that was on the table two to three years ago. If realignment is a real solution, why has it not be done, or if so, not worked as of yet?"
The letter makes it clear that what the Association is looking for is an opportunity for further discussion.
"Given the relative importance of Burnside to the local economy throughout HRM, we hope there would be further consultation with our organization and our members before changes are made affecting transit in this area," the letter says.
To date, the meeting request has gone unanswered, although O'Boyle says the Association understands the current strike situation takes precedent and is willing to wait a little longer.
Meanwhile, the Association has approached Councillor Jim Smith, Burnside's representative on regional council, about the proposal and Smith has taken up the issue at that level. To that end he sought and obtained permission to speak at a meeting of the Transportation Standing Committee on the need to directly consult the affected stakeholders on the new plan and why it eliminates the need for a terminal.
O'Boyle says the GBBA is open to listening to Metro Transit's explanation for the change in direction and hopes to find some solid reasoning behind the move and not just a way to cut the budget.