Stephen Rees's blog

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

Victoria’s message to B.C. on health, climate: it’s up to you

with 4 comments

Vancouver Sun

Not entirely, Mr Campbell. Your government needs to play its part too. Because your government is laying the groundwork for the development of BC for the next generation. And so far that seems to be “business as usual”.

The announcement I wanted to see was that the Gateway Program would be cancelled immediately. The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change has recently revealed that its estimates for pollution from ships need to be tripled. That is not just greenhouse gas emissions, it also the emissions that threaten the health of the residents of the Lower Fraser Valley. Environment Canada and Health Canada have both recently informed you, in response to the Environmental Assessment of the Port Mann Bridge Twinning and Highway #1 widening, that the estimates for future pollution and greenhouse gas emissions were “misleading”. That is because the demand forecast chose to ignore the impact of this development on both land use and induced traffic.

There will be another million or so people moving to the Lower Mainland in the next twenty years. You have made long term “promises” to provide them with transit after they arrive. This will not change the pattern of development or their chosen means of travel. We have to provide transit to the fastest growing areas of the province now and not leave it until after the freeway has been widened. Because the developers are already moving to build more car oriented sprawl – just as they always have done in areas which have little or no transit provision. And no one would expect them to do otherwise. LiveSmart BC, aimed at containing urban sprawl and rewarding green developments, will not work unless it incorporates transit from the start – not as a possible add on later, which is what your recent transit announcement proposed. This also means you have to change your priorities. Not just cancelling all of the Gateway, but also the underground line to UBC. Because growth is not going to happen as much in your constituency (Vancouver, Point Grey) and that money will be much better spent on shaping the much greater growth in Langley, Surrey and Abbotsford.

People can only make choices from what they have been offered, and for too many people their transportation choices are still too limited despite a regional growth strategy that you wrote when Chair of the GVRD that said it should have been increased by now. Building more freeways now and promising that transit will come later is just Not Good Enough.


The above has been sent as an email to both the Premier and a letter for publication to the Editor of the Sun

UPDATE February 14

Of course it was not published in the Sun. And no doubt I will get the same form letter back from the MoT in due course.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 13, 2008 at 12:32 pm

4 Responses

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  1. This is probably naughty, but I could not resist copying this from todays Morning Brew

    Throne Speech: “All of this is about being honest with people,” said Campbell. You mean like when you lied about ripping up collective agreements, lied about selling BC Rail to CN (donor to BC Liberals), refused to grant freedom of information requests about the subsequent raid on the legislature, lied about selling off BC Hydro (1/3 now controlled by Accenture, donor to BC Liberals), shut the doors on VANOC meetings, shut the doors on the new Translink meetings, lied about expanding gambling by changing the word to “gaming”, lied to the Cambie merchants about cut and cover…?

    Stephen Rees

    February 13, 2008 at 1:39 pm

  2. I’m new to this blog; I had assumed from your resume that you were a social engineer and an expert on transportation matters. I hope you agree with me that too little has been done for decades with regard to transit and transportation infrastructure; I would have thought you would be overjoyed to see so much emphasis put on resolving these issues by the current government. While I don’t agree with all of the projects in terms of priority or timing, I agree that all of them are past due for resolution. All of them. Additional buses, the Pitt River bridge, the Canada Line, the Evergreen skytrain extension, the additional seabus, the twinning of the Port Mann, the South Fraser Perimeter road, the new ferries, I could go on. This leads me to a question; which population group should continue to suffer with the system they currently have? What’s your solution to the Port Mann? Are you attending the dialogue tomorrow regarding the role of the region as far as transportation and commerce are concerned at Hollyburn? If you are, I’ll see you there, if you aren’t, why not? gh

    Gyula Huszar

    February 13, 2008 at 2:23 pm

  3. I am a transportation economist and a regional planner. I detest the use of the word “social engineer”.

    A lot has been done to both transportation and transit in this region. Most of it misguided. We had a very well thought out transportation plan which became part of the Livable Region Strategic Plan. Sadly despite adopting those plans governments at all levels have gone their own way. Mostly, the Province of BC has continued to control transit and transportation and pursued all kinds of objectives that were outside of the LRSP. Both NDP and BC Liberal governments have preferred to go for things that they thought would bring them support.

    Huge amounts of resources have been invested into transportation projects that were not properly evaluated or even checked for consistency with existing plans.

    “Suffer” is a very emotive term. Basically what has happened is that each provincial party has tried to best serve its own constituency. In my view it is time that kind of irresponsible behaviour stopped.

    One solution to the Port Mann would have been to evaluate transit options. That was not done. The LRC has suggested some quick fix solutions that should be tried before we look at major infrastructure investments. Like express buses across the Port Mann between Surrey and Coquitlam using the northbound hard shoulder as a queue jumper. Like buying more SkyTrain cars to use the existing track capacity across the SkyBridge. That could add the equivalent of ten lanes of freeway in people moving ability. Like buying low floor diesel railcars from Europe and putting them on existing low use freight lines – first out on the valley, but there are plenty of existing tracks that can be used. Cancelling the plans to expand the port and airport to carry traffic that just passes through.

    I am sorry I do not know of any meeting at Hollyburn – or even where that is.

    Stephen Rees

    February 13, 2008 at 3:18 pm

  4. The meeting is at the Hollyburn country club at 950 Crosscreek rd. West Vancouver. I’m sure Heather Shoemaker would find space for you if you wish to attend. Your input would be valuable. It starts at 11:30 tomorrow, ends at 1:30 with a short lunch break. Her # is 604-432-6364. Forgive me for describing you as a social engineer. I meant no harm. I actually believe that social engineers are a necessary part of the process, and in attending these meetings, I believe that’s exactly what we are. After all, what we do is for the benefit of society; isn’t it?

    Gyula Huszar

    February 13, 2008 at 3:57 pm

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