Get on board

Dave Bartlett
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NDP  MP  Olivia Chow (left) speaks with St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe and Metrobus manager Judy Powell Friday afternoon at St. John’s City Hall. Chow was in town to rev up support for her private member’s bill for a national public transit strategy. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram.

The federal NDP’s transportation critic was on the northeast Avalon Friday to discuss the idea of a national public transportation strategy with the city councils of St. John’s and Mount Pearl.

Olivia Chow told reporters earlier in the day that she would ask the councils for support of her private members bill.

“I’ve (already) spoke to the mayor of Calgary and ... the mayor of Ottawa and both of them will be coming to the transport committee (of the) House of Commons talking about the importance of federal involvement in public transit,” she said.

But Chow said representatives of smaller cities also have to get involved and that she would be inviting both Mayor Dennis O’Keefe and Mayor Randy Simms to make their voices heard as well.

She said it’s all about how “we can really work together to push (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper to finally establish a national transit strategy.”

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has already unanimously endorsed her transit strategy, Chow said.

Chow first met with representatives of St. John’s city council Friday afternoon, as well as Metrobus general manager Judy Powell.

Afterwards, O’Keefe told The Telegram the city needs funding from Ottawa for transit and hopes to convince the communities in the region to work together on a transit system for the northeast Avalon, which could serve up to 170,00 people.

“I’m optimistic that if all of us get together, I mean municipalities all across Canada ... and impress on the federal government the absolute need for a national transit strategy, then yes .. that can be successful,” he said.

From there, Chow visited Mount Pearl’s council.

Reached by telephone afterwards, Mayor Randy Simms said Mount Pearl is intrigued with the public transit strategy Chow is proposing.

Simms also noted Mount Pearl is in the midst of its own study on public transportation for the city.

“What we’ve basically agreed to is that when our study is done, in about four months’ time, we’re going to sit down and do a review of both our study and (Chow’s private member’s) bill and look and see if there is any commonality there,” he said.

“We believe there will be.”

Organizations: House of Commons, Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Geographic location: Ottawa, Mount Pearl, Calgary Canada

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