Friday, January 21, 2011

A Winter Nightmare

Based on a Real Nightmare

It is deadline day for the Hamilton Tiger Cat/Ivor Wynne/Pan Am stadium decision.

The Cats are fed up with an inflexible City of Hamilton Council. A pro franchise can live with no highway visibility but how can a business be viable without 25,000 parking spots for the new refurbished stadium.

They’re pulling up stakes; leaving town. No more roar on Balsam Avenue they’re headed to Burlington.

But the deal must be done by the February 22nd deadline. It has been extended 9 times but this time it is final.

Burlington Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for 9 :15 a.m. Tuesday Feb. 22nd to consider a new proposal.

This is early for the hard working seven person team that worked late the previous night, Family Day, developing a traffic calming plan for the Mainway Arena parking lot.

But something is amiss in Burlington this morning. Mayor Goldring’s car is not in his driveway. Stolen? With a call to the Deputy Mayor he is shocked to hear that the cars of many prominent Burlington citizens have disappeared or been disabled.

Shockingly the city’s beloved Bur Bear has been taken hostage.

But there is no time to dwell on these bizarre events.

The Nearly-Unimaginable-Never-Before-Used-Take-The-Bus-To-Work-Back-up-Plan must be put into action.

Mayor Goldring unlocks the safe and takes out the protocols.

Walk 300 metres to New Street take the #10 bus westbound.

He's off and smiles as he boards the #10 fifteen minutes short of nine that morning and sees Councillor Paul Sharman in conversation with a clearly distracted driver.

Goldring disembarks at the downtown terminal just metres from City Hall. It is 8:59.

Sharman is still into it with the driver who has benefitted from input for the duration of the Councillor’s 26 minutes trip.

“C’mon Paul. Let’s go. We need to get quorum.”

The twosome sprint through the John Street Parking Lot spotting Councillor Taylor climbing off the #3 South clearly frazzled but glad to have survived his 26 minutes trip which had followed a wild 170 metre dash up Cavendish Drive.

That’s three.

Ward 2 rep Marianne Meed-Ward will make it on foot.

Two Councillors, Lancaster and Craven, will be forced to execute tricky transfers - Craven from Route #1 to #10 East and rookie Councillor Lancaster will actually have to hustle under the Fairview Go Station after her trip on the #12 South to make her connection.

Craven can be counted on but the on-line bus schedule he consults is not reliable today posting only westbound #1 route times. The Aldershotman must go east, though.
Craven calls in. Not to worry he got the east bound #1; has arrived at Mapleview Mall and pulled off the transfer and is making his way along the narrowed Lakeshore highway which, as always, is delayed.

But the Ward 4 guy, Councillor Jack, where is he?

The mayor needs everyone there – a unanimous vote is imperative.

There’s a problem. On receiving the call Dennison has raced from his Lakeshore digs but retraces his steps on realizing he needed cash fare. But how much? He knows it is expensive; that’s what advocates have said. He grabs a two dollar bill from the cookie jar.

Back to the Lakeshore. Jack waits near Holy Cross Lutheran Church. Where is the bus? Then it hits him.

There will be no bus that day or any day. He and most of his colleagues had voted to get rid of that route more than 15 years ago. He’d have to cycle.

Although the senior member of council, Jack is arguably the fittest and even without the aid of subsidized public transit he makes it to City hall ahead of the deadline and in time to hear Councillor Taylor presenting a long list of amendments designed to enhance the environmental features of the new Paletta Tiger Cat Park and Nature Reserve (including a water feature.)

The amended motion passes.

Only Mr. Paletta’s signature is needed before the deadline.

“He’s not here! Burlington Transit doesn’t run north of #5,” a panicked staffer yells.

Someone shouts out Oskee-Wee-Wee.

“Restrain Mayor Bratina,” Goldring shrieks.

My alarm clock rescues me.

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