Re-Engineering the Peterborough CMA Community for Greater Resilience
Kick Start Proposal Electrifying PtboTransit
Release June 23,2023

Re-engineering Local Communities:
“ Local Communities everywhere need to immediately assess the risk of the Great Unraveling and work with their elected local officials moving in partnership with their own citizens to re-engineer and re-invest in their own local systems to use much less energy of all types and source as much of that energy locally as possible.”
NOW IS THE TIME! Blog #18 May 2023

Addressing the Climate Emergency:

This Kick Start Proposal focus is on the Concept Plan to Electrify PtboTransit as the leading community re-engineering project integrating some of the Local Food and Culture requirements for community wide population growth, greater economic localization and resilience as we move together more deeply into the Climate Emergency.

Now is the time for decisive planning and actions to move the CMA Community forward with greater functioning capacity and resilience.

This Proposal does not address the significant need and opportunity for more municipal supported initiatives to retrofit all local residential & commercial buildings to reduce net energy leading to greater community resilience, while at the same time reducing GHG emissions.

The desired outcome of this Kick Start Proposal is for the Mayor and City Councilors of the City of
Peterborough to debate the merits of this strategic approach, and vote in favor of funding an appointed citizens
led Task Force made up of citizens, elected city and county officials from the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA)
and city staff to create a Phase I Concept Plan as part of the Phased Program Planning Process for PtboTransit
to move to recommend passage to the Feasibility phase within nine months.

The 100 Year Concept Plan Electrifying PtboTransit :

A.   Design Parameters:
– Reduce the total amount of energy used per capita in the Ptbo CMA increasing the community’s resilience; by                  removing both electric and gas fired cars and the growing number of heavier higher energy use SUVs and light                  trucks from the CMA’s city streets and county roads.
– Reduce the CMA’s GHG footprint while building community resilience.
– Free-up more land for residential/commercial 100 year development in support of a doubling of total CMA                       population.
– Provide an electrified transportation system that attracts its usage for everyone for every possible use within the              CMA PtboTransit design system.
– Stimulate the creation of new local businesses with access to more workers and customers increasing community             wide economic localization.
– Competitive ridership rates.
– Service operational times from anywhere in the system to any other at no more than 30 minutes.
– Align System Design with Market Focus : PtboTransit “everyone’s first choice!”

B.  Integration with Local Food Resilience Objectives:
The Local Food objective is designed to:  remove the Peterborough CMA from the list of most food insecure communities in Canada by integrating the transportation electrification plans with plans to feed ourselves by the mid 2030s; as has long been approved in the Sustainable Peterborough Plan by the City of Peterborough and all adjoining Townships and First Nations that make up the Peterborough CMA.

Moving to Local Food has been identified by multiple research studies, conducted by local organizations and other institutions, as the number one strategy to substantially reduce community energy consumption while increasing food security, and creating a more resilient local food supply chain with many more jobs.

The localization of our food and the electrification of public transportation are considered the No. 1 and No. 2 ways to reduce community energy consumption ..integrating the two wherever possible provides a clear path to much greater community resilience…ie the ability to bounce back and move forward, from any climate induced event.

C.  The No. 3 most effective way to reduce local energy consumption and build greater resilience is to:
localize the source of energy consumed by the fully electrified public transportation system, the local food system, and the publicly owned culture facilities with renewable energy. These sources could include the more efficient next generation solar, geothermal, biogas and small modular reactors SMRs that are expected to be commercialized within the next 20 years.

There is no intention to exclude the positive impact on local resilience by the sourcing of electricity from local renewable sources for battery charging of electric cars, SUVs and light trucks. Battery technology is evolving quickly but there are limits to its use in heavy equipment used in transportation, mining, logging, road work and in buses of the same size that are utilized in the existing fleet by PtboTransit.

D. 100 Year Peterborough Electrified Public Transportation System Outline:
Hopefully, it will become clear that the purchase of a rechargeable fleet of buses matching the size currently in service by PtboTransit would not only… not be environmentally progressive but a costly mistake in attracting a much broader cross section of the community’s population than now exists…to be blunt….the need is for everyone making PtboTransit their first choice in local transportation!

E. Costs Estimates of Light Rail System:
The costs of a newly electrified public transportation system will be high and will require creative financing but the community wide benefits will be much higher. As a bit of a benchmark, the City of Toronto has paid close to $10 Million for a single new street car satisfying their much higher capacity requirements. Further the overall system costs will most certainly escalate with every delay as will the costs of continuing to patch the existing broken system that has little chance of advancing the Ptbo CMA or reducing community wide energy consumption.

The proposed Concept Phase herein, would only scope estimated costs leaving the rigorous financial analysis to the Feasibility Phase. The estimated timeline is to have Phase 1 of the new system in place by 2030 and Phase 2 by 2035 in order to reduce energy consumption and thereby increase community resilience. Phase 3 by 2038 would be to fill in additional routes and to build out the system energy source to 100% local renewable sources, some backed up by Hydro One.

The new electrified transportation system will intersect with the pressures and real requirements to build a new Entertainment Centre and home of the Petes and Lakers in the Downtown area, a Downtown Pedestrian Mall, a new Local Food Hub at Morrow Park re-purposing the Memorial Centre building with an indoor/outdoor all year Local Food Farmers Market, a second twin pad arena somewhere on the northern route either close to or as part of Trent University, as well as the proposed Heritage Tourist Loop of the city serving the new Canoe Museum, Canal, Lift Lock, Ecology Park, Beavermead Park and the Peterborough Museum & Archives. In effect the new proposed PtboTransit system is designed to pull the community together and make it much more green in the face of the challenges that lie ahead as a result of the rising GHG emissions trajectory.

F. Electrified Rail Street Car Background :
The light rail system outlined herein spans 15 years to completion. Even by that date it is expected to be fed by small rechargeable battery buses that are much more environmentally progressive for feeder routes than the big buses that roam the City streets near empty much of their in-service time.

The new light rail and battery power bus system would require a service and charging garage for the rechargeable battery feeder buses. This could be part of the recently acquired service garage (at the existing Canoe Museum site). Local source of energy for this site could include next generation solar panels on the roof. No attempt is made in this Kick Start proposal to identify the battery power bus network feeding into the rail network.

A light rail car service and parking garage would also be acquired in a central location. One such location might be the re-purposing of part of the vacated GE site… all for due consideration with the owner. A rail line off one or two of the main lines proposed would be required.

A fly over view of the City quickly reveals the bulging oversized parking lots that have to be minimized and replaced by Century 21 Public transportation or everyone will pay the price down the road. These include Peterborough Regional Health Centre, Trent University, Fleming College, Downtown Shopping & Culture Venues, Memorial Centre & Farmers Market, Lansdowne Place, the Healthy Planet Twin Pad Arena, and the venues on the Heritage Tourist Loop that could support Peterborough as an iconic family tourist destination as we move deeper into the Climate Emergency.

The new PtboTransit system would align and integrate with a robust increase in e-bikes and bicycle lanes throughout system and bicycle parking at key transit stops along with local food farm sales stalls…designed to bring the often used phrases farm to fork, and I love local Food Peterborough real and important to the community at large.

All of these locations can be better served by the proposed system and all will be required to support the system through the tax base focusing on building a more resilient community.

G. Prerequisite City Council Decisions: required to enhance community resilience.
1. Locate a new Sports and Entertainment Centre on George St across from the Holiday Inn. A single pad home for the Petes and Lakers with estimated 6000 seat capacity, needs to be on the same timeline for completion in 2030. A local Examiner newspaper article dated June 16, 2023 announced a consultants proposal for City Council’s review to build a new single pad facility in the Peterborough Downtown Area with an estimated cost of $107 $Million. It’s difficult to imagine that the highest and best use of such a facility could ever be realized without a significant upgrade and the electrification of the public transportation system that is the topic of this proposal.

2. A timeline decision path to maintain the existing Memorial Centre as a medium capacity Entertainment Centre with conversion and new adjoining build design for a Regional Local Food Hub including food storage and cleaning facilities, a permanent indoor/outdoor local food farmers market and dedicated local food cafeteria style restaurant.

3. Downtown Mall: A pure pedestrian mall is not recommended in this plan. However it is recommended that both Charlotte and Simcoe Streets between George & Water streets be closed to traffic and made to be part of Peterborough Square with additional metered bicycle parking places. Further George St between Hunter and Charlotte would have a single wide lane through the centre for the light rail line, cars, delivery trucks, and bicycles, with wider sidewalks on both sides and room for small summer outdoor cafes.

4. Design some of the light rail network major stops with small spaces for local farmers to sell local food product direct to consumers…farm to fork available everyday!

H. Phase I Light Rail Lines 2030
Four light rail lines are proposed to be operational by 2030. They are designed as a robust Kick Start solution to put Peterborough on the map as among the most livable cities in Canada preparing for population growth, increased community resilience through per capita energy reduction, and a more significant tourist destination all supported by increased public and private re-investment in the community at a time of rising energy prices and the reality of the Climate Emergency top of mind for everyone.

Line 1:  South Bound Route: Starts at Trent University Campus Entry just off Water St and runs south on Water St to George St proceeding along George St, through the Downtown area keeping the one-way street system past Ptbo Square to Sherbrooke and the single track to Lansdowne St and the Memorial Centre then turning west on Lansdowne St to left on Brealey to the front entry of Fleming College.. Stops along route not identified. 14 kilometers.

Line 2:  North Bound Route: Starts at Fleming College travels along Brealey to Lansdowne, east along Lansdowne to the Memorial Centre stop left on George St single track between Lansdowne and Sherbrooke St with a passing sidetrack and stop at Del Crary Park on Little Lake; likely also serving a new home of the Petes & Lakers, proceeding on the single track to Sherbrooke turning north bound on Water St through the downtown area to Hilliard St then proceeding north on the single track along Water St with a passing side track and stop at the Peterborough Zoo….then continuing on the single two directional track to Trent U with another side track and stop and turn around at Trent U. All Stops along route not identified. 14 Kilometers.

Line 3:  Peterborough Regional Health Centre.
Single track starting at the intersection corner of Sherbrooke, Water and George St connecting directly to South Bound Line 1 and North Bound Line 2 to Medical Drive separating into two rails for entry and exit lines on Medical Drive to Hospital Drive to the PRHC front entrance 3 Kilometers.

Line 4 Heritage Loop: One way single track system leaving the Line I and Line 2 stop at the Memorial Centre/Regional Food Hub east on Landsdowne with a stop near the current existing hotels continuing on to left
on Ashburnham to one or two stops near the new Canoe Museum proceeding to go under the Lift Lock and along west on Hunter St with first stop at the top of the hill serving the King George Public School and local residents then on through East City on Hunter St allowing a transfer Line 2 for the Zoo or staying on the same car completing the Loop on Line 1 to the Memorial Centre and restaurant serving local food year round.

I.  Phase II Light Rail Lines 2035:

Line 5: Parkhill: Two track system connecting with Line 1 at George and Parkhill and Line 2 at Water and Parkhill double tracks extending to Brealey Ave in the west. 6 Kilometers.
This makes for a more complex and congested dual corner at Parkhill/George/Water that will require creative engineering and perhaps the acquisition of private properties to make it work for people, bicycles, cars & trucks and finally rail cars. The stoplight for people & bicycles at the trail crossing just north of George St is very dangerous for walkers & bikers and puts drivers in jeopardy …it needs to be replaced by a bridge or tunnel perhaps as part of a Station Stop. Further a spur line from Parkhill down Medical Drive to Hospital Drive and the PRHC should not be missed.

Extension of Line 5: Two track system along Brealey to Lansdowne St connecting to Line 2.   3 Kilometers

Extension of Line 1: to the Clean Tech Commons
From Trent U front entry single track extension across the river to the east side of Trent U, the baseball diamond and on to the Clean Tech Commons with a passing sidetrack, and turn around with local food kiosk.

J. Phase III Light Rail Lines 2038

Extension of Line 5: from Fleming College to the Peterborough Airport 4 Kilometers.
Assuming the new electrified rail system between Toronto and Ottawa with a stop in Peterborough proceeds, then it may cross this line on Airport Road and change the routing of line #5 Extension.
If possible it is recommended to proceed to the airport with a light rail system by 2030.

Line 6 Lakefield: from Trent University Line 1 to the Lakefield Town Centre. 8 Kilometers

K. Local Renewable Energy Solution for the Light Rail Network:
One of the Feasibility Phase questions has to be what is the estimated electric load of the new system, and where are the possible local locations for its renewable source of energy.
Not only will PtboTransit require its own independent electric grid, the City of Peterborough at large requires one as well with two way flow to the Hydro One Grid, to maximize community resilience

By 2038 all buildings in the Clean Tech Commons, and Peterborough Airport should be required to have solar panels covering their own requirements and two way to the City of Peterborough Electric Grid.
500 KW Biogas plants at both the Clean Tech Commons and the City Airport need to be built by public private partnerships feeding into the PtboTransit and City of Peterborough Electric Grid. The two biogas plants will require feed stock from a much more robust local food system.

Finally The City of Peterborough owned Electric Grid should be considering the installation of a SMR (Small Modular Reactor) at the current underutilized GE site likely in the form of a public private partnership.

L. Financing Ptbo Transit:
Creative financing that engages the public from the beginning, that gives them hope for the future, makes them proud of their own community’s plans to become greener and more resilient as the Climate Emergency intensifies will be the key to its success.

The financing vehicle that would make this real is the issuance of small and large denomination Green PtboTransit Bonds as soon as the project is a Go. This will not be the largest component of the financing but certainly the most important for the projects ultimate success.

As one of the founding directors of the local complementary currency the Kawartha Loon I would suggest that the Green Transit Bonds be offered in both Canadian dollars and in electronic Kawartha Loons at likely a half point higher in KLs to promote re-investment in our own community. The Kawartha Loon Exchange is already in play to be transferred to the City and County of Peterborough. Clearly PtboTransit ridership passes would be offered in Kawartha Loons allowing the City to pay the interest on the KL Bonds in Kawartha Loons.

Tying together Local Food, electrified PtboTransit and a local legal electronic currency has the potential of leading the drive towards the Circular Economy or Economic Localization often advocated by Green City planners and Not For Profit organizations such as the Transition Towns Network here in Peterborough and around the world.

This Kick Start Proposal is made to engage the public in the Concept Phase of the Phased Program Planning Process of Concept/Feasibility/Design/Implementation for the electrification of PtboTransit.

Fred Irwin
Founding Director
Transition Town Peterborough Inc.