Stephen Rees's blog

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

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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

4 Responses

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  1. I’ve just caught up with you again after a while away- As usual I appreciated the well-informed thoughts, and the biting comments here and there, and the photography. Thanks for keeping a blog that’s interesting to us furriners as well as people in Vancouver, and for the light relief like the ‘Office party’ entry. My favourite though was about trams being unable to climb a 6% grade. This would be a surprise to the residents of Stuttgart where our trams and light rail regularly climb up 8,5% gradients, with station stops. I can take a picture for your collection when I next go into the city.

    Andy in Germany

    January 21, 2008 at 12:43 am

  2. RE: BURNABY UNIMPRESSED

    Corrigan, Luksun and Ramsey have been very critical of Gateway, claiming it will promote auto-dependent sprawl in irresponsibly governed municipalities other than Burnaby, of course, which will nobly resist any such tendencies. I guess that noble resistance just had to yield to hard financial realities in the case of the Big Bend development, which Burnaby’s own planning papers admit will be mostly auto-oriented and which is supposed to become an employment node for 20 to 30 thousand jobs.

    In addition one could say that Burnaby and its property owners benefitted and still do benefit from the original Trans -Canada Fwy project of the 1950s and 1960s. One could add that if there will be induced traffic produced by the proposed Port Mann or the built Annacis Island bridges, then presumably there is induced demand coming out of Burnaby because of Hwy 1. What steps would Corrigan, Luksun and Ramsey take to restrain and curtail all that induced demand originating in their municipality? Would they like all of the on-ramps in Burnaby to be fitted with signals that control and limit the inflow to the freeway, as they have advocated for communities in the Fraser Valley?

    Also, Corrigan’s comments imply that the transit scheme is too big. Fine. Which elements does Corrigan wish to eliminate or schedule for a much later date?

    Corrigan is also indirectly quoted as saying it’s not feasible to do both the transit plan and Port Mann – Hwy 1. It’s not clear from the article if Corrigan simply means not financially feasible or whether he has some other feasibility criteria in mind. However, assuming it’s the former, a financial constraint, how does Corrigan propose to pay for the new Patullo Bridge he has advocated? Would he like it to be a Translink P3 similar to the Golden Ears project?

    Budd Campbell

    January 21, 2008 at 10:19 am

  3. Oops

    I should have written “Burnaby NewsLeader unimpressed”. It shows that the Black press does try to report and comment in tune with the neighborhood it serves.

    I am not going to answer for what you say Corrigan implies. If you want an argument with Derek, don’t do it here, talk to the man himself.

    The loss of industrial land in Vancouver, the use of land zoned for waterfront industry for things like bus yards, and the spread of “office parks” and other suburban employment patterns were all disasters and contrary in my view to the spirit of the LRSP if not its letter. BUT if you are a Councillor in say, North Vancouver, and you watch shipbuilding die, do you keep that land vacant in the hopes it will be revived one day? Or do you go for a new dense pattern of residential development based around a transit node and a district heating system?

    Stephen Rees

    January 21, 2008 at 1:17 pm

  4. Even The Province either yesterday or Sunday in its editorial criticized the plan for not providing enough for the South of Fraser region.

    Ron C.

    January 22, 2008 at 12:34 pm


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