Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for January 20th, 2008

Shorter items

with 4 comments

I was going to write something else but butterfly brain here was distracted by the WordPress opening page “hawt post”. It is relevant though. Ebenezer Howard was late Victorian town planner who invented the concept of “Garden Cities”, and this is one of the iconic maps that must have been in nearly every “introduction to town planning” book. It was ideas like this that lead to the still current practice of separating out land uses. Even though most non-residential activities have been smokeless for quite a while now. And it wasn’t until the 1950s that residential uses became smokeless too. In fact I doubt Howard realized that in his day open hearth burning of coal in homes was probably a bigger source of air pollution than factories.

What I was going to mention was the series of articles by Jeff Nagel on transit issues that are in the weekend Black local press. He hits out at SoCoBritCA’s new boss for moving Board meetings out of the limelight.

That’s plain wrong.

That’s a neat punchy sentence.

I agree.

Frank Bucholz on the same web site but a different paper thinks the transit “plan” will be good for Surrey. I think journalists owe their readers a bit more than simply acting as a shill for the government.

Burnaby was unimpressed.

I also do not understand why a local MLA would buy an ad on a Black Press web site. If you want to find your MLA you use the leg web page don’t you? Buying ads seems like a waste to me.

And the editor of the Nanaimo News Bulletin talks about opinions

It seems some people also can’t grasp the notion that presented with the exact same set of facts and information, two people can form opposing opinions. Those same folks are the ones least willing, in my experience, to have an open mind to listen and consider opposing or differing points of view.

Well now, if one of the facts is that the cost of gating SkyTrain is now estimated to be $100m – and another is that loss of revenue fare evasion is nowhere near that, it is not possible to form the opinion that it will pay for itself. That may be why the spin being now put on it is that it will make the transit system safer – even though there are absolutely no facts to back up that assertion. Because “facts are sacred”you need to be very careful about what you accept as a “fact”. Because as Dr Goebbels observed if you make the lie big enough and repeat it often enough it gets accepted uncritically.

In motorised urban areas, traffic expands to fill the space available. In modern city regions, the type of transportation system you build determines the land use that develops. So what do you make of the people who hold that building a freeway will cure congestion but have no impact on land use or increase the total amount of traffic (in terms of both trips and trip miles)? It is an opinion certainly, but seems to me to be on a par with the opinion that the war on Iraq was justified, or that giving rich people tax breaks will somehow trickle down to the poor.

“If you keep a sufficiently open mind, people will throw a lot of rubbish into it.” John Osbourne

Written by Stephen Rees

January 20, 2008 at 5:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

‘I’m saying don’t build this highway’ near bog

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The Province

One of the scientific experts on an advisory panel for management of Burns Bog has presented perhaps the strongest argument yet that the controversial proposal for a $1-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road is located in the wrong place.

John Jeglum, a retired Victoria professor and acknowledged global expert on peatland ecology, dropped his bombshell Friday.

He released a position paper that outlines the scientific advisory panel’s grave concerns over Victoria’s intention to build part of the 40-kilometre, four-lane truck freeway along the western and northern borders of Burns Bog, the huge ecological reserve in Delta that’s often described as the “lungs of the Lower Mainland.”

The highway would accommodate increased container truck traffic from an expanded Deltaport.

Jeglum’s highly critical assessment of potential damage to Burns Bog follows an earlier report in which Environment Canada expressed similar concerns.

Just in case Budd Campbell is not clear on my position I would say do not build this highway. Period.

I do not believe that there will be increased container truck traffic – or that there needs to be. I think imports from China will not continue to increase at the rate they have in recent years. I expect the decline in the US economy to be prolonged and severe – and I do not see yet another tax cut doing anything at all to restore confidence. That will affect us too, sooner or later. At the same time US ports are becoming more competitive – our rising dollar will quickly eliminate savings due to shorter sailing times. The new Panama Canal and the opening of the North West Passage will also impact shipping patterns. And Prince Rupert can take more traffic if needs be.


Roberts Bank is as quiet as the grave today. How it can be argued that a port which works on a five day, 8 hour shift pattern needs expansion defeats me.

The environmental argument is very strong indeed. But then it was when the port was last expanded too and the Tswawassen saw their major traditional food source eliminated. If the SFPR goes ahead then BC will have to confess that it has ignored a significant environmental impact for almost no measurable benefit to the province as a whole.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 20, 2008 at 2:29 pm