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Archive for September 17th, 2007

Green business initiative expands after NDP resolution to oppose Gateway in favour of sustainable options

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September 17, 2007

For Immediate Release

Vancouver- A Langley business and Metro Vancouver’s oldest environmental organization have joined forces to redouble the challenge to the provincial government’s Gateway Program. The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) and CNC Repair and Sales first teamed up to avert the collision course between Gateway and climate change policy with an ad campaign in the Spring of this year.

Running for 5 weeks, the second installment of the radio and print ad campaign starts on the heels of a NDP resolution to oppose the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and in advance of an anticipated announcement on provincial climate change plans by the Premier at the Union of BC Municipalities meeting next week. Radio ads will run on News 1130, the station with the highest rate of in-car listenership, and print ads will run in the commuter papers as well as in the Langley Times, Surrey Leader and TriCity News.

The Premier must change from the collision course he is on between freeway expansion and his climate change promises by supporting a robust transit-first solution for the Lower Mainland,” said David Fields, campaigner with SPEC.

Analysis of Gateway Program greenhouse gas emissions estimates by Metro Vancouver and the City of Burnaby have determined an increase of almost 3% above business-as-usual by 2021. This increase is about 30% above current levels.

Climate change is the greatest challenge we face today but the direction taken by the province- twinning the Port Mann Bridge- is absurd,” said Jim Leuba, owner of CNC Repair. “Local businesses have a responsibility to help improve their communities. Freeway expansion will only make the Langley area more car dependent and polluted.”

Leuba approached SPEC with the advertising idea because he is very concerned that BC seems to be “going down the same road” as so many US cities by increasing road capacity even though it hasn’t worked to clear congestion. “I can’t just sit by and watch us make the same mistakes, with the same predictable results for air quality, health and climate change,” said Leuba. “I had to do something and it seemed to me that the Livable Region Coalition was playing a leading role in educating the public and the government.”

The transit-first solution proposed by SPEC and the Livable Region Coalition is to develop rapid transit in Surrey, Langley and across the existing Port Mann Bridge into Coquitlam: and to buy more passenger cars for SkyTrain. The transit-first option would cost far less than the escalating costs of freeway expansion, now expected to ring in at $2 billion or more, and complement other transit initiatives such as the revival of the Interurban Rail Line in Surrey and Langley and the Evergreen Line in the TriCities.

The Port Mann is the only bridge in the region that does not carry transit. TransLink had planned to implement a bus priority service across the bridge by this year but was stopped due to provincial pressure from the BC Ministry of Transportation.

Our transportation system so heavily favours the automobile that we must correct the balance by rapidly expanding public transit in our region,” states Fields. “The Premier must accept that the first step out of a hole is to stop digging.”


For more information, please contact:

David Fields, campaigner with SPEC

Written by Stephen Rees

September 17, 2007 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Gateway

Where the subsidies go

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I have excerpted a big slab of text from one of the WordPress posts recommended on their front page. I must admit that I had not intended dealing with this issue when I logged on, but as usual I got distracted, first by a libertarian grandma in Texas, and then a post from “Nixon is in Hell” about taxes, which starts in Toronto and fans outwards

Yet government subsidies to corporations persist. In 2004, now Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed that a Conservative Government would “get out of the grants and subsidies game”, but Industry Canada alone continues to dispense an average of 1 billion dollars a year to various businesses. Since 1982, (when Industry Canada started keeping itemized records), the federal government has authorized 18.4 billion dollars in “grants, contributions, concessional financing and other forms of federal assistance.”

The largest beneficiaries have been Pratt & Whitney, ($1.5 billion), Bombardier, ($745 million), General Motors, ($360 million) and Bell Helicopter, ($338 million). Familiar names among the top fifty companies receiving grants and subsidies are Honeywell, ($207 million), Ford, ($104 million), Rolls Royce, ($87 million), Inco, ($60 million), Hyundai, ($55 million), IBM, ($33 million), General Dynamics, ($28 million), Goodrich, ($23 million), Lockheed Martin, ($20 million) and Magna International, ($18 million).

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has pursued an economic policy towards the automobile industry meant to encourage growth and job creation. Since 2005, the province has invested more than 667 million dollars in Ontario auto manufacturers. General Motors received $235 million, Ford $100 million, DaimlerChrysler $76 million, Toyota $70 million, Navistar Truck and Engine Corporation $32 million and another $154 million went to Honda in 2006. Ontario’s plans for the automotive industry also include financial aid to the auto parts sector, another 50 million dollars. In addition, the McGuinty government initiated a five-year, 3.4 billion dollar road improvement program to “support Ontario industry by providing an efficient transportation system upon which their goods can safely travel”.

These would be the same governments that have no money to spend on transit. Can you imagine what the TTC would have been able to do to improve travel conditions in the GTA with $667M?  How much less air pollution and stress, not to mention traffic collisions – all of which show up real fast in lower health costs and higher productivity – that would have produced? Pratt and Whitney make jet engines – one the the greatest sources of greenhouse gas emissions – not to mention contrails. See a pattern here?

And as the piece points out, these corporations are both making bigger profits and laying people off. It’s not like they need the money. Just the fear that if the Canadian/Onatrio government doesn’t give them a hand out they will decamp to somewhere that will.

Of course, we are told that we should not be charitable towards those who beg on our streets. It only encourages them, and anyway they waste the money. But corporations are different, aren’t they?

Written by Stephen Rees

September 17, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Economics, transit