It’s un-redacted! Now what?

There’s not really anything revelatory in the February rapid transit business case draft that was published by City Hall last night. The most remarkable thing about it, actually, is how very similar it is to the final version that came out in May.

What it reveals more clearly than ever is that is was pretty easy to make a case for either the Hybrid or the Full Bus Rapid Transit option. There were at least two convincing and viable business cases, but ultimately, one had to be brought forward.

The major takeaway from this is that councillors can’t assume that any given staff recommendation is the only one that could have been made. There are often other valid options, even on something as thoroughly researched-and-reported as our major transit overhaul.

We expect our councillors to carefully consider the facts and information supplied in a report, and to take staff recommendations seriously, but not to accept them blindly. As in most organizations, we expect our decision-makers to consider other viewpoints and dissenting opinions — maybe even from their staff.

We also expect them to apply values and principles to their decisions, and to consider strategy, goals, and a strong vision for our city’s future when they’re faced with two or more good options.

Multiple councillors repeatedly said that their rapid transit decision was based solely on the business case. But now that two very similar business cases with different conclusions are available, hopefully those councillors realize that it was never *the* business case — it was *a* business case.

Council’s final decisions may sometimes align with a business case or staff recommendation, but they shouldn’t be limited by it. After all, we don’t elect staff based on their values and vision. We elect councillors. And we elect them to do a lot more free thinking than they have been lately.

The train may have left the station on our rapid transit plan, and I don’t expect that publishing an old draft recommendation for Hybrid will change our direction. I just hope it opens our eyes.