Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for July 20th, 2007

Communities under threat: MP

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Richmond News

The MP is John Cummings and the threat is the Gateway program.

Increased rail traffic resulting from the controversial Asia Pacific Gateway Corridor project will deteriorate local quality of life and cause real estate prices to plummet, he predicts.

“I think we’re at crunch time here for our community,” Cummins said. “If people don’t stand up and start to scream and holler, they’re going to be awful sorry.

Now Cummings appears to be the first politician who has noticed that freight from the port goes mainly by rail. It has nothing much to do with trucking – which of course knocks out most of the justification that the province (and the BCTA) has made for the South Fraser Perimeter Road and the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and widening of Highway #1.

“I’m not opposed to the port growing,” Cummins added, “but I’m saying let’s do it right. Let’s not destroy our communities so the Port of Vancouver can be the biggest port in wherever.”

In which case I think he is increasingly out of step with his constituents who are beginning to wonder why it is so important that Vancouver grab a larger share of the North American transpacific trade. Especially since most of it is destined for the US. Given that our ports have a tax advantage – US ports have to pay a lot of money to their local communities – exactly why do we want to subsidize US shippers and consumers? The people who live around the major Pacific Ports like Long Beach are increasingly restive about the amount of air pollution they get from trains, trucks and ships. Why do we have to take that from them?

I can understand that strategically we need ports on Canada’s west coast to handle our trade. I just wonder why we need them to handle other peoples. And I suspect that the Americans will have similar thoughts. And just as they did not stand still while we cornered the cruise ship traffic to Alaska, they will not lie down as we expand here and Prince Rupert. I think we are going to end up with a lot of spare port capacity, some redundant rail trackage, and a lot of very heavily congested roads full of commuters – not trucks.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 20, 2007 at 4:38 pm

Posted in Gateway, port expansion

The Cambie conundrum: Seattle did it differently

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Vancouver Sun Thursday July 19, 2007

The Seattle businesses have access to compensation from a community development fund designed to keep them alive. The Rainier Valley Community Development Fund has doled out $9.8 million US to 160 businesses since 2004 when construction began. And the plan seems to be working, says Jaime Garcia, the fund’s executive director.

[Vancouver-Fairview MLA Gregor] Robertson [NDP small business critic] says it’s not too late to implement “the Seattle Solution” in Vancouver.
“It’s a classic American approach,” he said. “It’s seen as an economic initiative to ensure a tax base, not as a handout. I thought the Campbell government might embrace this approach.”

Written by Stephen Rees

July 20, 2007 at 7:06 am

Posted in transit