London’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) team is pausing the formal Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) to provide more comprehensive information about potential heritage impacts before moving forward.
Heritage is a “Matter of Provincial Importance,” which means cities must demonstrate the highest regard for it in their planning processes. The BRT project team has already completed a significant amount of preliminary research to identify any potential impacts on heritage, and more in-depth assessments and explicit mitigation plans were originally slated for after the conclusion of the TPAP.
“Through discussions with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS), we determined there is a need at this point to more fully explore any potential heritage impacts and describe in detail our strategy for managing and mitigating any impacts,” says Jennie Ramsay, BRT project director. “We opted to pause the process to assure the Ministry we are adequately addressing this matter of provincial concern before moving forward.”
Through research to date, the project team has identified 67 properties that may or may not have cultural heritage value where structures could be impacted by construction of BRT. It is likely many of these properties will ultimately not be deemed to have heritage value. In cases where heritage value is confirmed, there may be ways to minimize or avoid impacts through design tweaks, such as slightly adjusting sidewalk width.
The BRT project is in a legislated, 120-day public consultation period that was expected to wrap up Oct. 4, when the project report would enter a 30-day public review period before being sent to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks for review. Briefly pausing the formal process is not expected to have a material impact on the overall 10-year project timeline.
Once the step-by-step heritage plan is strengthened, the project team will continue with the formal TPAP, including a 30-day public review of the Environmental Project Report.
“The City shares the Ministry’s commitment to a clear and effective strategy for managing and mitigating potential heritage impacts,” says Ramsay. “Having a transparent strategy in place to preserve and protect our historic assets is critical while planning for the future.”