A city isn’t built in a day

The recent bus rapid transit debate in London Ontario has me playing SimCity 4 again. In Simcity, as in the real world, the fastest way to bankrupt a city is sprawl with large amounts of traffic friendly roads, highways and low density development zones. However, if you assume the car is a person’s last choice for transit and develop the city around any transit mode but the car the city doesn’t struggle with the burden of road maintenance and other services being sprawled inefficiently.

In the current city I’m building I have left space for the subway system to expand. A city of 17,000 people with a subway line, a rail line connecting to the region, a bus grid, and a commuter airport. Mass transit requires a dense population to be efficient, which is why I never use low density development zones, at least for residential. Before any new zones are added to my cities i wait until the demand has made the previous zones use their full density potential, then I put the transit system in before adding the new zones. I also ensure everyone is meters from a park or some other green space, even when at work.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 1.22.56 PM

Using a grid system to develop a city is thousands of years old. When geography gets in the way the grid dead ends but the rest wraps around or flows where geography suits. Simcity being a game is easier to have a focused plan to build a grid, no competing interests can highjack the player’s city. The messy world we live in has NIMBY groups, speculative developers, warring ideological tribes, and short sighted leaders looking to the next election victory.

Cities have evolved for security and cooperation, walls were built to keep flood waters and attackers out, and to bring the wealth of the hinterland in. Very few cities evolved without having transportation to the surrounding region or the wider world. Cities were founded on rivers, harbours, crossroads, canals, rail junctions, and stops for resupplying the travelers. A city that allows itself to become isolated or resistant to change is only visited by archaeologists. A city must work within and regionally to plan for survival.

For a century North American cities planned for automobile transportation with anything else as an afterthought. Cities were pulled apart like stewed meat to force the network of wider roads and highways in. Low density zones sprawled across valuable farm land and nature areas to serve the car, despite city services being stretched thin and costing more. Some of the services, such as public transit, were sacrificed to keep taxes down. Most urban mass transit was kept, but as an afterthought or limited to pre-1940s growth zones.

The current aim for many cities is to densify core areas and use rapid transit as the main mode of transit through and between the densified areas. Having looked at a few plans for this I’ve noticed some are reactionary rush jobs to catch up to the cities that have been planning the city around transit and densification for a decade or two. Some have completely redone their old network to serve the new network, while others are just dropping the new technology on existing networks. The more successful ones will be the ones that have planned long term and redone their existing networks.

A long term plan for a city needs to be integrated with all services available when a new area is zoned or opened to redevelopment. I recently noticed the City of London might expand the growth zone without expanding the transit system to the existing edge of the growth zone. London is also building low cost or subsidised housing in an area that is one or two buses away from the main transit zone. This is either poor planning or a plan to keep poor people in cars. In the city pictured above you might notice a subway stop next to a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. When i do expand that city the transportation is already there for construction workers.

I recently read the article Sexism and the City which offers me some new ideas for Simcity and shows how hostile cities can be for vulnerable people. I’ve already realized keeping residential and commercial close together cuts the need for transit and parks are in every block. The Mr. Peas can’t touch Ms Potatoes approach of urban planning the last century has failed to benefit many members in society. When there isn’t a bus waiting when a train/plane unloads or any convenient connection between transit options it only benefits more car sales. Cities should stop assuming the connections aren’t needed and permit more flexible combinations of residential and commercial zones with integrated city services.

Short direct trips are better, even with a transfer or two, than long convoluted trips, this is the benefit of planning a grid system of transportation. Another benefit of public transit going to a grid or grid/hub hybrid is ridership can increase as in Houston.  Houston is one of those cities that wasn’t exactly planned to a grid originally yet they have created one for the transit system. Many US cities are further ahead in correcting the transit systems than Canada. The Canadian cities that are working to improve transit are the ones growing beyond the capacity cars can carry and are attracting the investment from higher governments and individuals.

Internal transportation for a city is useless without connections beyond city limits. Cities that are distant from their neighbours and major population centres need to show they are ready for more expensive transit options such as high speed rail. As mentioned above if existing intercity transit methods are disconnected or poorly connected it shows the city is unready or unwilling to have the new connections. Ontario has a plan to connect Toronto to cities to the west by GO Train and high speed rail. Other versions of the Ontario plan has high speed rail going directly to Windsor or even Detroit.

Cities that wish to be included in larger transit systems, such as high speed rail, should work with surrounding communities to develop a local transit system to increase potential usership and show potential visitors local travel is equally convenient to the high speed rail network. Cities that continue to focus on cars or fail to fight for inclusion in wider transit networks have only themselves to blame when population drops below the minimum required to fund current services without massive tax or user fee increases.

Cities need long term planning for connecting within and beyond themselves. It takes many election cycles to get a city ready for transformation, especially if special interest groups seek to block any or all changes. Transportation is a form of communication and if it is to succeed communication is required. Communication doesn’t mean talking a lot to people about how the new system benefits but listening to what is lacking and what needs to be improved. Pushing new transit or growth areas while neglecting current transit and areas is a good way to get animosity and push back.

As I read in the Houston case, and the Ontario Transit Guidelines, there needs to be a constant dialogue with the riders, the drivers, and the public at large. Houston found a local community came up with a better route proposal than the was offered, that proposed route was immediately tested. City planners or transit system planners do not have a monopoly on all the facts or expertise. Riders, employers, and drivers have far more information about frustrations caused by existing systems and ignoring these stakeholders leads to bad transit decisions. Even asking nonusers why they don’t use a system may show the flaws in the existing orthodoxy.

If a city wants improved public transit, cycle networks, or better pedestrian paths tomorrow then the city should have started planning twenty years ago. A plan that should have a city wide network and that doesn’t leave areas out. One last thing I’ve learnt from Simcity, if a road is congested don’t widen it to reduce congestion, stick a toll booth on it. I’ve had cities where the tolls and transit fares subsidise health and education.


Buses & London’s petty civil war #Ldnont

I wasn’t going to post more on London’s bus rapid transit but the debate going on right now has me seeing red flags from both sides and I’m coming up with plenty of questions. The now entrenched camps have signs and funds making any form of compromise implausible. Where both sides are coming from is the past, the anti-BRT side wants to remain with cars, parking, and the status of being able to afford a car, while the pro-BRT side is stuck using a London transit map from c.1914.

Both sides in this debate are triggering my bull shit alarm. The down shifters are anonymous behind signs and tactics straight from the tobacco lobbyists of the late 20th Century. The pro side aren’t anonymous but they still haven’t shown how this will function, who is benefiting from it, nor how to protect BRT from future councils stacked with anti-BRT members. We’re in a Sergio Leone movie’s cemetery having a standoff, problem is both factions think they’re Clint Eastwood when they’re not even Eli Wallach.

Both sides of this polarized debate are focused on the transportation aspects and not the social justice. Some of the poorest people in London rely on a very inadequate LTC, BRT in the current plan will make little improvement and may make some people worse off. Already London has enforced car usage for those who work in the suburbs or industrial areas of the city. Reliance on the LTC is a guaranteed way to be denied employment, just check indeed postings. The anti-BRT people have offered nothing to change this, and the pro-BRT people have shown little evidence they even care.

My problem is not that we are trying to adopt BRT, its that BRT is stuck in the old mindset of bus routes have always gone through downtown, so must always go through downtown. Doctors who are taking new patients do not have offices within the main transit zone, nor do any of London’s blue collar employers, and most of the subsidized housing will be one or two buses beyond the BRT lines. All the research I’ve seen shows these big transit projects are for the convenience of affluent people.

I’ll give BRT advocates the benefit of the doubt that they’ve studied these questions, now please show us the findings:

  • How many poor households will need cars because of BRT?
  • How many poor households will be gentrified from the transit zone?
  • Will low cost housing be built in the transit zone exclusively?
  • How long will people’s commute be going from one suburb to another?
  • What is the city budgeting for increased policing costs of transit deserts, and how is the city going to prevent transit deserts from becoming ghettos?
  • Why can’t London adopt point to point transit? How many people would be diverted from the congested routes if alternative routes were available?
  • Why adopt a route system that is crippling/failing other cities and costing billions to correct? Will there be money put aside to correct these mistakes when hubs and spokes are overwhelmed by people being diverted to them?
  • What prevents bus lanes being turned to HOV lanes by future councils?
  • Why is a single point of failure built into the system? What is the diversion plan?
  • When BRT costs go up where are the guarantees the other routes won’t be sacrificed or the system be allowed to collapse from neglect?
  • Why is the city still spending money attracting industry to areas outside the transit zone?
  • Why is the airport left out?
  • How does this system integrate with the rest of the region/province/nation/global economy?
  • How much are the fines for driving in a bus lane? Will drivers lose their vehicle/licence?
  • How much will the city spend making roads durable enough for BRT?
  • If the goal is densification, why wasn’t it planned for 20 years ago?
  • Will a downtown congestion tax and car free zones make this easier to fund?
  • Were work locations, start times, and the actual drivers who are the public face of LTC consulted?
  • Are the thousands of people beyond the transit zone second class?

I make certain conclusions based on my research in the questions above, such as hub and spoke transit systems cannot work in cities sprawled like of London, the lack of service in the suburbs can have deadly consequences as in Paris and Chicago. My growing suspicion is that BRT, as currently planned, is nothing but a vanity project and a futile attempt at placating special interests. Now questions for the down shifters:

  • Where are your detailed, costed alternatives?
  • Why are you not more transparent with your members and funders?
  • Why are using tactics of the tobacco industry thirty years ago?
  • How will you prepare London for the cultural/demographical shift away from the automobile?
  • How will road widening in London not create more congestion as it has in every other jurisdiction that has tried it?
  • Are empty parking spots an efficient use of Space?
  • How will you keep the automobile from consuming the budgets of poor London residents? Would you support a city funded subsidy for these people to drive?
  • What happens if infrastructure money for roads, underpasses, and bridges becomes tied to public transit projects?
  • How will London fit into the global trend to abandon the internal combustion engine?
  • How much investment has London lost/losing because this system is now in jeopardy?
  • Is being one of the last cities in North America to have such mass transit attracting investments/talents?
  • Are people forced to spend a high percentage of income on their car spending the rest in downtown businesses?
  • How much are businesses outside the transit zone spending on employee/customer shuttles because of current poor LTC service?
  • Is “wait for future tech” code for “I like my Edsel”?
  • When was the last time you took the bus? Was it cheaper or more expensive than parking? Was Richard Nixon President of the United States?
  • Have you factored in the increased health care costs of continued use internal combustion engines?
  • If BRT isn’t built, and businesses still fail, who’s getting the blame? Amazon?

Both sides fail the smell test, and neither side has the high ground, in fact both would need to climb up to reach the sewers. The documents I’ve read on the proposed BRT system feel incomplete and lack evidence, while the opponents produce nothing but opinion pieces and fear mongering. Both sides are using the poorest, most vulnerable people in the city as pawns. If the BRT debate was really about social justice why not connect to where the poorest are and are most likely to find work? Or most likely to end up when the transit zone prices the poor out. Something neither side has explained as far as I can tell.

BRT is not a panacea nor the apocalypse, but the bitter debate could fracture London and destroy opportunities it needs to survive. This city needs to evolve, and primitive automobile technology, whether private car or bus, is not going to help London evolve. Both sides need to remove the blinders and see what is going on in the rest of the world, or at least beyond their bubble. It is frustrating and shameful that London can’t even connect cycle routes, walking routes, and plan a few bus routes without reenacting the Hatfield and McCoys.

If anyone outside London is watching this debate then they’re watching it as a poorly written farce. To be honest the farce over Hamilton’s LRT is more entertaining, and involves London tax dollars to connect Hamilton to Toronto’s boom. If London dithers to long or looks like its unambitious there is a line up of transit projects willing to spend our share of the money. London isn’t in competition with those cities, they beat London twenty years ago, now we’re just waiting for their scraps. A half billion dollar BRT system for the downtown isn’t enough to catch up, and doing nothing puts London further behind.

All those things London now claims as benefits will go where the people, money, and efficient transit are. Bitter debate over a bus system that should’ve been completed in 1989 will not keep it all here, nor attract new benefits. London has already been thrown under the bus, its called BRT, now some are trying to throw us under the car. London should have built a LRT/street car grid that serviced more than the downtown and went beyond city limits. But then people from St Thomas, Strathroy, Ingersoll, and Woodstock could conveniently travel into London to spend money.

Which Way London? #Ldnont

In a recent opinion piece on the London Free Press site mentioned London is halfway between Toronto and Detroit. I think the person was trying to sell that as London’s selling point as justification for better rail service at the expense of local rapid transit. I disagree about delaying rapid transit but agree London needs better travel to areas beyond the city’s bubble.

London is halfway between Detroit and Toronto, and I don’t mean geographically but halfway between decay and success. Detroit used to have a world leading trolley focused transit system which was profitable. The rolling stock would still be running today if it hadn’t been destroyed in the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. Detroit nationalized the profitable private system then converted it to buses as part of a car focused transportation system. Toronto about the same time built a subway line and extended streetcar/trolley service with abandoned rolling stock from Cleveland or Cincinnati. Which is the more successful city today, Detroit or Toronto?

Toronto loves cars as much as Detroit or London yet recognizes that it can no longer afford to focus solely on cars for transportation. It is estimated the Greater Toronto Area, Canada’s main economic engine, loses $11 billion annually in lost productivity due to cars being congested. Toronto alone loses $3.3 billion in productivity because of its inadequate transportation networks. As younger generations reject the car for more efficient and cost effective transportation methods it will be the GTA and Hamilton that will attract people and not cities building wider roads or second class alternatives.

London’s current choice is bus rapid transit focusing on the centre of the city only. It is a flawed plan, an incomplete plan, a plan with many problems. Having seens some of the city and LTC’s supporting documents it is the information that is missing that sticks out. Metreolinx has some in depth studies showing how expensive the status quo or further automotive infrastructure could cost billions more. London makes vague statements about progress and attracting investment but I’ve yet to see anything with the opportunity costs of doing nothing or the justification for the plan as is. Even the two websites show how far behind London is, if you can get to LTC’s website.

London lives in its own little world, it is unable to learn from other cities mistakes or successes. The danger is London, or as I’m beginning to call it Ditherville, will not survive without bold transportation reforms and an end to the automotive monopoly in transportation. The disconnected walking paths, cycle routes, poor transit to anywhere not the downtown all leave London rather unlivable outside a few downtown areas. These disconnects are costing London, most likely far more than the cost of fixing them.

How much is the car costing London in lost productivity, as a barrier to employment participation, in increased policing costs, in health care costs, environmental damage, and lost investment opportunities? As the rapid transits argue London residents are paying for better transit, just not their own. Many other communities are looking to take the money if London doesn’t spend it. I agree with the “Not Yet” person in the opinion piece that London does need to connect beyond city limits. Which would be pointless if most people can’t get to where those connections are made.

London needs a grid transit system, with two rapid transit corridors north/south, and another two east/west. It needs to spread the transit system to all areas of the city and plan for future integration with a regional system like Metreolinx and the possibility of high speed rail, which won’t stop for buses. It needs to work with the rest of the province to have a single smart card paying system that works on any Ontario, and possibly any Canadian, transit system. It needs cycle and walking network that extends beyond city limits and is accessible from any point in the city. It needs to slow investments in auto infrastructure until the other systems catch up in funding.

How does London compete in a world where economics is shifting back to Asia? Can London survive using the status quo? Nothing says London has to be anything but farm fields and ruins in a century. Working against the rest of the region, province or country will certainly make London like Detroit or cities that require trowels to see. While we’re waiting for lights to change or travelling at 60km/h in our horseless buggies the rest of the world is getting places at 200-500km/h. We still haven’t separated bulk, fast freight, and passenger service to dedicated tracks, slowing all of them down. But at least we have a six lane highway to Detroit and Toronto, that’ll compete with China’s 20,000+km of high speed rail.

Targeted Sanctions #Cdnpoli #sanctiontrump

With the announcement today that Ivanka Trump is to receive security clearance, office space, and unprecedented access in the White House I feel it is time to revisit my idea on Twitter that the Trump administration warrants Canadian sanctions. Not being a lawyer I might be wrong but my understanding is international law gives Donald J Trump himself immunity. That immunity does not extend to his family nor any of his business interests, nor to his cabinet and their business interests. Canada already has the Special Economic Measures Act to lay sanctions.

Broad sanctions will hurt Canada and vulnerable Americans and not really be noticed by the Trump administration. Targeting the Trump family, Trump business empire, and those of the Trump administration who are poised to use their position for personal gain would be far more effective. Current Sanctions by Canada are for questionable election results, oligarchical seizure of public assets, denial of Human Rights, and destruction of essential services.

Donald Trump’s recent actions against democratic governance, Human Rights, public assets, denial of service, and fostering fear in minority groups should worry us. If they were committed by a leader in the developing world we would not hesitate to call on international sanctions. When African leaders are elected under suspicion or blatant fraud we slap sanctions on within days or weeks. With the suspicion of Russian involvement of in November’s results it would be hypocrisy of Canada not to sanction the United States regime as we would any African, South American, or Asian regime.

When North Korea or Iran sabre rattles and threatens to use weapons of mass destruction we don’t try to foster friendship and engagement we tighten the sanctions. When Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe pitted “veterans” against farmers and farm labourers to steal land we didn’t open trade negotiations to secure our market we sanctioned. How is Trump’s forcing through pipelines on Native lands, targeting of minorities, and threats of war with North Korea any different?

With the disturbing ties between the Trump administration and the Russian Federation’s government and ruling oligarchy we could call targeted sanctions as an extension of our current Russian sanctions. Those sanctions are in part due to the Russian annexation of Crimea and the proxy war in Ukraine. The call for NATO nations to spend more money while stating that the alliance is no longer relevant and that the United States wouldn’t come to members’ aid threatens security and may foster an international crises. The calls to end sanctions on Russia without Russia changing its support for its proxy wars or returning Crimea will embolden the expansion of Vladimir Putin’s empire.

It is Canada’s interests to sanction the Trump administration, as it will embolden resistance to Trump and roll back of some terrible policies. Millions of Americans have lost healthcare access and we Canadians can expect greater fraud in our systems as a result. Refugee bans have a greater number of people risking their lives to come to Canada and American minority groups might end up joining them. The removal of restrictions on small arms may foster more violence on American streets that spills into Canada. Already the unchecked hate and threats against minorities has spread north and cost Canadian lives. Tariffs on Mexico will hurt Canadian jobs dependant on supplying or being supplied by Mexican industry.

It is ultimately up to Americans to decide Trump’s fate, and by extension their own. Do they wait until America is a battleground or do they move quickly for a peaceful transition? Sanctions on the Trump regime can starve that regime of resources and distance support from people and organizations that are vulnerable to sanctions being imposed. Targeted sanctions may cost a few Canadian jobs, but doing nothing may cost many Canadian lives. Which is easier to replace, a lost job or a lost life?

The announcement today that Ivanka Trump is to be her father’s chief and most trusted advisor reminds me of Stalin and his daughter. By the end even Stalin’s favourite daughter wasn’t trusted by a paranoid dictator that had seized unchecked power. The Trump administration is working to removes checks on executive power and turn the United States into the Trump family’s personal property. Maybe sanctions on Ms Trump will convince her to reign her father in before she to is cut out of the decisions.

My Shift epiphany #Ldnont

Laying in bed Saturday morning it dawned on me, the London bus rapid transit plan has nothing to do with growing a vibrant 21st Century city. Shift, like all major political decisions in the past seven decades is about BabyBoomers. Once I realized that I learnt to accept the very flawed plan as it currently is.

No generation in history has or will have the automotive usage patterns of the BabyBoomer. The bulk of Canada’s wealth is held in the hands of BabyBoomers, as is the bulk of the private automobiles. We still build automotive infrastructure thinking the average BabyBoomer just turned 16 and has the Dad’s car keys. The reality is within ten years BabyBoomers start turning 80 and must start having driving tests every two years. Even before 80 doctors can revoke licences if the patient is deemed a driving danger.

The bulk of the BabyBoomer generation are hitting retirement age in greater numbers. They are already downsizing homes and going with hassle free condos which in London will supposedly be along the BRT line, at least that is the plan. This explains to me why the routes are where they are. Two major hospitals and two major malls are within the core of the plan. Translation, convenience to medical appointments and a place to walk when the sidewalks are icy.

So now that I realize the aging Boomer is the focus of the plan my only complaint is the blatant dishonesty on what/who it is for. Selling Shift as a progressive plan to make the London of tomorrow is false, if it were then connecting Fanshawe/Western students to courses on the other campus the route would stick to Oxford and not meander through the downtown. If it were for the growing tech industry it would connect to the airport so the tech companies could connect with the world of customers. If it were for lower income London it wouldn’t focus on a few areas that gentrification will make for the affluent only.

The LTC in the last while has made progress on correcting some silly routes and making improvements on hours of service. There are still areas of London, mainly lower income, that have poor or no service. Most of the industrial areas are not serviced at all, including the areas the city is spending to attract new industry to.

The longer the commute, the lower the commuter’s productivity. Routing commuters from the suburbs through a central point of failure in a downtown intersection built for horses will lower the productivity and health of London. The focus of the city and LTC on the downtown focus appears to be coming at the expense of satellite areas of the city. Many London commuters will have to use automobiles, especially poorer people in the ignored areas or people who work in industrial areas. The long commutes or unhealthy means of commuting make London unattractive to investment, and Shift is doing nothing to correct this.

Shift is best viewed as a boon for the serviced area and the affluent seniors most likely to be able to downsize to the serviced area. Shift is itself left vulnerable to reactionary politics that will make BRT lanes into HOV lanes and then freeze funding so LTC is forced to cannibalise satellite routes to keep BRT running. If someone has seen concrete guarantees to keep this from happening please show them to me.

Some research to consider:

A tale of two customer service experiences

Some people colour to relax or geocache but I prefer Lego. I have a casual collection of Lego Star Wars Minifigures and discovered noticed awhile ago the Rey figure had a cracked torso. I filled the web form at the Lego site and the replacement arrived today. I’ve made to purchases from their site directly and both experiences have been positive. The most recent order included free shipping at CDN$35 and a free poly bag Lego set, a police helicopter with a police woman. The replacement part came with an apology letter saying the quality control people were notified.

Lego allows me to use PayPal and won’t allow me to click on items that are out of stock. BattleFront, the company that makes the Flames of War miniatures game I play does not allow PayPal so I have to go through a local store. If I could order direct free shipping doesn’t happen until US$100(CDN$140) and there is no guarantee that what ordered is available. Almost everything on my order through a local store was out of stock and so the order was cancelled as what was in stock wasn’t enough for the free shipping. I cancelled the order and have no plans of making another.

The really extraordinary thing is this past weekend BattleFront launched version four of the Flames of War rules. Customers were supposed to trade the version three book for a pair of free version four books. As far as I know no one in South Western Ontario has access to these new rules except through bootleg PDFs. When I mentioned it to Battle Front on their forums they implied I had the wrong information about why my local store didn’t receive any books.

The BattleFront representative then said stores got good shipping deals at USD$300 and a small box was only USD$30 shipping. The claim of stores getting free shipping was refuted by a store owner responding saying USD$300 was $10 shipping and not free, if the stock was available to fill the order. The store owner was saying the stock problems were so bad they may have to drop BattleFront products.

So one company apologizes and says we have a department to keep this from happening, and the second company suggests customers don’t have all the facts and their policies are reasonable. Reading the BattleFront forums as often as I do I see stock problems and customer complaints almost weekly. The new editions to the line up were apparently shipped with incorrect items. Plenty of other posts about backorders, lost orders, and damaged orders.

I guess both companies could be used as examples of customer relations in some business program. I certainly wouldn’t invest in BattleFront if I money too, it strikes me as a company committing suicide. In fact I’m really hesitant of ever buying from them again.

Sanctuary Spaces #ldnont

A recent petition circulating around Farcebook got me angry. The petition calls for London Ontario Canada to not become a sanctuary city to illegal immigrants escaping the USA and elsewhere. A headline on the Montreal Gazette site mentioned Montreal couldn’t afford to be a sanctuary city and council shouldn’t have voted unanimously in favour of becoming one. The arguments of financial burden, our own people first, they’re all terrorists, and others are repeated widely and all sound hollow and heartless to me.

I get that people don’t want “those people” coming here draining our resources and maybe committing a crime. These people have been so programed to be paranoid that hard data will not overcome their blatant cowardness. Yet these same people are supporting the very systems that have created the migrant and refugee crises. They support companies and governments that are fueling corruption, exploitation, environmental destruction, armed conflict, trafficing, and ethnic cleansing.

Think about it, is buying stuff cheaper so important you would see entire populations exploited for their labour, resources, or simply destroyed to make way for others? Are a few short term jobs in dying industries so important that measures should be taken to deny good jobs to others in Mexico, Southern Asia, and Africa? What if high wage jobs in the BRICS and MINTS are the only way the Canadian economy could survive the century?

If you don’t want these people sneaking in, risking their lives and enriching criminals in the process, are you willing support the economies people are fleeing from? Are you going to put pressure to limit the arms trade so conflicts are starved of resources? Will you vote for politicians with a peace centred foreign policy? Will you demand an increase in our own military resources so we can deploy forces to help monitor and end these conflicts?

It easy to protest the move to sanctuary space, be short sighted and unempathic to those suffering. Maybe those who are opposed to sanctuary spaces have never need one. Never been in a domestic abuse situation, chased by bullies from school, had their homeland torn apart by a proxy war, been targeted for being a minority, and so on. If which ever group you belong to was criminalized, demonized, targeted, or forced to flee wouldn’t you want to seek sanctuary?

I remember hearing of King Zog of Albania inviting Jews into the mostly Muslim kingdom while the rest of Europe was anti-Semitic or indifferent to Jewish plight under the Third Reich. Even Canada was turning Jews away in the Thirties but Albania opened the borders, actively sought to bring them and protected them during Nazi occupation. Canada was on the wrong side of history in the Thirties, now we should be the example and not the accessory to genocide. Rescue in Albania article.

Another thing to remember is when we keep some of these refugees out of our society it feeds the anti-west narrative of the groups forcing many of them to flee. The lack of compassion we show could haunt us in the form of terrorist attacks. We know it doesn’t have to be an immigrant who threatens us, it may well be a domestic terrorist either inspired by the perverters of Islam or emboldened by a global environment of xenophobia and intolerance.