Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for August 12th, 2008

Guy Gentner goes after the SFPR

with one comment

The Province

A report commissioned by local port authorities but virtually ignored by the B.C. government for more than three years now raises serious doubts about the economic viability of building the $1-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road.

In fact, the holes it opens in the so-called rationale for this 40-kilometre, four-lane truck freeway through Delta farmland and Burns Bog are large enough to drive an 18-wheel container truck through.

Perhaps its biggest flaw is Victoria’s failure to look seriously at alternatives for moving more shipping containers to and from an expanding Deltaport at Roberts Bank.

But is that news? The report endorses the use barges to move containers – as does the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (though I am told they have been told to shut up about that). Of course it does not say that the future of the container trade is looking dim – in fact only a couple of days ago Paul Landry (of the truckers association) was quoted as saying there is expected to be rapid growth. He did not say who expects it. What also seems to have escaped attention is that River Road is lined with industrial and distribution activities – which themselves generate lots of truck trips. So the claim that River Road will be relieved of truck traffic is obvious nonsense too.

As the 112-page report by Novacorp International concluded in 2005, it is economically feasible to transfer huge numbers of containers to and from container ships at Roberts Bank by using Fraser River barges for ongoing distribution via rail or truck well outside the Greater Vancouver core.

Well, maybe – I haven’t read the report. But if they are going by rail, why not just put them on trains at Roberts Bank and save the extra handling? The agricultural land there is apparently going to be covered by new railway tracks anyway.  The barge option works if the “stripping and stuffing” of containers is remote from the port. For less than full load consignments, a lot of containers are unpacked, and then the goods reloaded with other goods from other containers into trailers – or other containers – for distribution to retailers. Not much of this goes on at the riverside right now but the Port Authority has been looking for potential sites. And the people in the Valley are none too happy about that. They think there are more attractive things you can do with a river bank, that do not generate so much truck traffic.

The EA for the SFPR was a waste of time. But the real crunch issue is the whole fallacy of the Gateway. The world has moved on from the economic arrangement that ruled at the time it was thought of. And BC seems to be building for a demand that is no longer there.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 12, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Gateway

Tagged with ,

Call me an optimist, but if Denmark can go green, Canada can too

leave a comment »

Gary Mason, Globe and Mail

Gary appears to be joining the other sage of Delta (Pete McMartin) onthe side of the angels.

He enthuses about a hotel in Greenland, and also about Delta’s plan to collect solar power. Actually they are also somewhat latecomers to the game, but none the less welcome for that. I once had to stand in the lobby of Delta’s Municipal Hall with portable exhibition stand for the Community Energy Association. A steady stream of Delta residents came up to complain about Delta’s by laws that prevented them from doing simple energy saving things like putting solar panels on their roofs. One guy had taken himself off the grid completely by buying a fork lift truck battery – and was trying to put in wind and solar power to charge it. He was having all kinds of problems because it was not covered by the municipal building code.

And, a bit later, a greenhouse operator across from the Vancouver landfill (which is, of course, in Delta) wanted to put a pipe under the road so he could use the methane collected from the rotting garbage to heat his greenhouse. Now if there is one thing Delta hates more than power lines it is greenhouses. It may just have been a coincidence but the next time I was in the Delta Hall it was to present the Mayor with an Energy Aware Award. The City of Vancouver had put themselves forward for the award on the strength of the methane collection scheme – and we decided to award it jointy to Delta as the gas was going to be put to commercial use there. In fact the project came up for third reading that evening. I suppose they felt they could not vote against something they had just won a award for.

Sadly Mason did not notice the other great oil saving programme in Denmark which started 30 years ago too. The City of Copenhagen decided to reduce car dependence by reducing road space in the City. Just a bit, and the same amounbt every year, plus lots of cycling facilities and better public spaces. Worked like a charm. Of course in Vancouver we tried closing short sections of Granville and Robson to cars and all hell broke loose.

Danes were just as in love with their cars as we were. But they have changed. And we no longer have the luxury of waiting 30 years.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 12, 2008 at 10:48 am

The Livable Blog

leave a comment »

I woudl hope that all my readers will also be regulars at the Livable Blog. I try not to duplicate what is on there, but this morning there are two items from Erioc Doherty which you must read.

Preparation work is about to start on Highway #1 expansion even though contracts for the main work and privatization are not ready yet. This ought to be the start of the next phase. Up to now, people opposed to the project have taken part in all of the “consultations” only to see their concerns dismissed. Huge holes in the EA pointed out by experts from the federal government and the NGOs still remain. All the Ministry of Highways does is repeat its original, mostly unsupported, assertions. Obviously the time for polite discussion is over. Now what?

And Eric has also found a really useful document from the US GAO which debunks the case for P3s for toll roads.  “GAO Denounces P3 Accounting Illusion – No Free Money”

Written by Stephen Rees

August 12, 2008 at 10:12 am

Posted in Gateway