Centretown residents speak out about transit strike vote

Some prominent Centretown residents are voicing their concern about the impact Thursday’s transit strike vote is having on their community.

About 64 per cent of the 2,300 member transit union voted not to accept the city’s latest contract offer.

“Even if you don’t feel as a Centretowner that you’re directly affected, you are,” says Friends of the O-Train founder David Gladstone.

Citing the declining sales rates at local businesses, difficulty in getting access to services, and pollution caused by heavy traffic, Gladstone says the effects of the strike will be far-reaching.

“There will be consequences for years to come.”

Shawn Menard, president of the Centretown Citizens’ Community Association, says several area residents called him to express how upset they are about the vote announcement. He says many people have also told him they are writing letters to municipal representatives asking for a change in the situation.

“Centretown residents – we are walkers. We walk more than anyone else, but we take public transit too.”

Menard says his organization is not taking sides in the dispute. Instead, the group voted in late December to send a letter to both the City and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279, pointing out “failures of leadership on both sides.”

“While most people frame the issue in terms of the union versus the city, I think it should actually be seen as the public versus leadership and management in general.”

All opinions aside, Menard says that Centretown residents are without transit and need to get around. He had a clear reminder of how much it’s affecting people when he drove a stranger to the hospital earlier this month.

When Menard brought his car to a friend’s home, he says a senior citizen approached him and asked for a ride. He said he had been waiting for Para Transpo for more than an hour and a half to go to an appointment at the Ottawa Hospital.

“This benefits nobody in the end.”