Good afternoon, Londoners! Tonight and tomorrow hold great importance for the Blackfriars neighbourhood, where I have the honour and privilege of living. Firstly, a meeting of the Blackfriars-Petersveille Conservation District Study takes place starting at 19:00 (7:00 PM) tonight, at St. George's Anglican Church (227 Wharncliffe Road North). If you live in the area or simply have an interest in the heritage study, please make time to come out to this meeting.
Secondly, the future of Blackfriars Bridge will hit the council floor tomorrow. In an elaboration of my letter to the London Free Press (Keep bridge for walkers), I sent the following letter to all 15 members of the City of London council earlier this afternoon:
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
I would like to start out by thanking the City of London for investigating Blackfriars Bridge. This heritage structure, in the core of our city and a focal point for the Blackfriars neighbourhood, acts as our unofficial "mascot", while serving as a vital link to provide pedestrians and cyclists access to the downtown core.
The importance of Blackfriars Bridge can not be understated. Whether citizens in our neighbourhood head downtown for work or leisure, easy access facilitates that movement. Right now, journeying to bridges at Oxford or Queens/Dundas (all very busy arteries) doubles travel time using active transportation and poses a greater threat of incidents with motor vehicles.
The increase in time forces people to consider not going downtown, as walking takes too long or could be dangerous; or, if they choose to drive, they will select to go elsewhere in town (where parking poses no limitations, such as malls). Beyond adding traffic congestion and polluting the air, these extra drivers will travel away from downtown, taking money out of the core and decreasing the social and cultural contribution to a downtown that we want to keep vibrant.
I was at the Civic Works Committee meeting on September 9th and saw some support for the initiative to enact temporary measures to allow pedestrian/cycling traffic on the bridge for two to three years while we undertake the environmental assessment. The estimated $260 000 to have the bridge operational in 12 weeks does not compare to the social and economic impacts on the neighbourhood and downtown itself of a closed bridge for up to three years. Concerns about increased crime on both sides of the closed bridge means more police spending in an area currently relatively safe.
When this item becomes open for discussion at Council tomorrow, I encourage you to think of the economical, environmental, and social impacts of this decision. We should not step over a dollar to pick up a dime. An open Blackfriars Bridge equates to that dollar.
Thank you for your kind consideration in this matter.
... Mike Bloxam.
Let's hope our elected representatives will follow the wishes of the community and get foot and bike traffic restored so that we can continue enjoying the downtown life unabated.