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Archive for October 4th, 2007

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There is a big piece by Charlie Smith in the Straight on the Gore/Suzuki/Campbell meeting last week – but I am afraid it does not add much to what we already know.

Damien Gillis videoed the Unitarian church meeting, but so far only Derek Corrigan’s speech is available on YouTube – I have also linked it within that story.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 4, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Posted in Transportation

Campbell’s vision collides with Falcon’s freeway plans

with 4 comments

Ian Bruce
Special to the Sun

Premier Gordon Campbell’s bold move to legislate British Columbia’s greenhouse-gas targets is a solid step in reducing our contribution to global warming.

His leadership stands in sharp contrast to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s endorsement of President George W. Bush’s meaningless “aspirational” and voluntary emissions target approach. However, Campbell’s goals could be derailed by his transportation minister.

TransLink estimates that to achieve the premier’s emissions target, the percentage of trips now made by transit would have to grow from 11.5 per cent today to 25 to 30 per cent by 2020, at least doubling transit service in Metro Vancouver.

Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon’s plans to expand freeways preceded the premier’s new vision, and are based primarily on moving people in cars. The two plans are inconsistent and are on a collision course.

We know that people will get out of their cars when good alternatives are made available: In 1997, 34 per cent of UBC students drove to campus, while only 18 per cent took transit. By 2005, after the introduction of the B-Line and the U-Pass for students, almost 42 per cent of students took transit, while fewer than 20 per cent drove.

Unfortunately, plans to build more freeways, including twinning the Port Mann Bridge, are inconsistent with plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

The focus on expanding highways throughout Metro Vancouver will lock our communities into a car-dependent design, encouraging more vehicles and congestion, and increasing commuting distances. The B.C. government’s own reports show carbon emissions will rise, not fall, because of the project.

Spending more on roads will actually discourage people from using transit: A recent TransLink report concluded that the Highway 1/Port Mann project would lead to ridership declines on the Expo SkyTrain line of up to 500 trips during the morning rush hour, and as much as five per cent in total on the Millennium Line.

Then there’s the Falcon-appointed TransLink governance review panel, which completed the current proposal for transportation funding several weeks before the premier’s announcement of new climate-change policies.

Falcon’s panel proposed a funding structure based on the assumption that fuel-tax revenues will grow at one per cent per year — the current rate of current fuel (gas and diesel) consumption. In fact, if the B.C. government plans to achieve the premier’s carbon-emissions target, transportation fuel consumption in B.C. will need to decrease by a third by 2020. Instead of moving us to the forefront of the low-carbon economy, the outdated approach of Falcon’s panel will result in an increase in harmful emissions and a significant decrease in TransLink’s transit funding.

The contradiction between Falcon’s proposals and the goals set out by the premier are clear.

Falcon’s plans are out of date, but the premier’s truly impressive vision is weakened by Falcon’s short-sighted strategy. We can only hope that the premier’s announcement Friday to unveil within weeks a plan to make “B.C. a global leader in public transit” will be a signal for Falcon to overhaul his transportation plans for the 21st century.

Campbell has a huge opportunity to steer B.C. in a new direction. To accomplish this, we suggest that he:

– Provide long-term funding for affordable, clean, and efficient public transportation system by annually allocating a fixed portion of B.C.’s transportation budget to transit and biking and walking infrastructure. This can be achieved by re-allocating spending from urban highways to transit.

– Contribute a substantial portion of provincial gas-tax revenue to transit. It’s only fair that those who are creating the problem by burning fossil fuels help pay for the solution.

– Support the regional government and provide TransLink with the legal tools to use regional tolling to ease congestion and pay for transit and maintenance. It’s only fair that road users pay user fees the same as transit riders.

– Facilitate better land-use planning to concentrate jobs in areas well-served by transit.

Ian Bruce is a climate change specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver.

© The Vancouver Sun 2007


It may be risky just cutting and pasting an entire op ed piece from a newspaper. But Ian writes it so well, I could not add anything. Except perhaps this link to, of all people, columnist Pete McMartin. Who, in the same paper on the same day has a column I cannot say I like but comes to this, for him, surprising conclusion

This is why Premier Gordon Campbell should override his transportation minister and redefine what Gateway and the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge is about, and what it should do. (And there are hints he may be doing that soon.)

What our government should be doing is giving suburban commuters transit alternatives other than another bridge for more cars, and then forcing us out of those cars.

We’ve shown we won’t do it ourselves.

More Saturday. or 604-605-2905


Written by Stephen Rees

October 4, 2007 at 9:13 am

Do it yourself bike safety tip

with 7 comments


Written by Stephen Rees

October 4, 2007 at 7:50 am