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

Archive for September 15th, 2008

Financial crisis ‘worst I have ever seen’: BMO economist

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There are some splendid soundbites here

“The rhythm of the shoes that drop has accelerated.”

Lehman Brothers has declared the biggest bankruptcy in American history. Merrill Lynch & Co. has been taken over by Bank of America. This is not small stuff folks. Of course it’s all down there and not up here and our leaders are trying to talk us up. Try this for size

“My own belief is that if we were going to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now.” Stephen Harper

Now that is not quite as quotable as my favourite hostage to fortune from former UK Labour PM Jim Callaghan “Crisis? What Crisis?” (which became the title of a best selling progressive rock LP by Supertramp) but I suspect that he is going to regret saying that before very long and certainly this kind of over confidence is what you expect from a sitting PM facing an election. But do not forget that the US is our biggest trading partner – and if they are coming unstuck, we are going to slide as well. And we no longer have all those safeguards that keep foeign investments out oif ouyr RRSPs, do we. The chickens of free trade and globalisation are coming home to roost. And just remember who was so keen on those changes.

UPDATE Tuesday September 16

I forgot to mention AIG which may be the biggest shoe yet to drop. And Nancy Zimmerman has a neat summary for us Canadians on what this all means – and it is in Plain English, which is a style I like to encourage and use myself wherever possible.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 15, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Posted in Economics, politics

Why Federal Elections Bore

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Rafe Mair’s Tyee piece this week is about the election.
Like Rafe I will be voting Green but he has this to say about my local Conservative candidate

Sticking up for your constituents

When it comes to federal MPs paying attention to folks back home, a prime exception to the rule is John Cummins, M.P., Delta-Richmond East. He is a Conservative, formerly Reform. (I vote Green, incidentally) Cummins has consistently acted in what he felt were the best interests of his consistency.

On one occasion, he felt that a bill should be debated, so flouted the orders of Prime Minister Harper to give leave to have the bill passed forthwith. He lost his shadow cabinet post. Cummins was on the Commons Fisheries Committee and criticized amendments to the Fisheries Act by the minister and was promptly yanked off the committee by Harper. Cummins, though the most knowledgeable MP in the House on the West Coast fishery, is not the Fisheries minister and won’t be the minister of anything because he refuses to subvert his constituents feelings to the wishes of the prime minister.

I’ve been involved in the shocking environmental desecration proposed, and being undertaken, by both senior governments in Cummins’ riding and John Cummins has been there fighting alongside his citizens, while the Liberal MLA for the area, Val Roddick, who usually won’t shut up, runs and hides. So do the ministers.

There is, after all this, a moral to this story. If we had a system where the member of Parliament had the powers in fact that he has on paper, we would see a lot more John Cummins. As long as we have the same old, “first past the post election system” (if “system” it can be called), we will have more lickspittles like Lunn and Roddick and fewer John Cummins.

It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

More recently Cummins also declined to support the SFPR – which caused a pre-election “announcement” to get cancelled. And for that alone  I would put Cummins ahead of the pack.

Except, as my mother said, “I could no sooner vote Conservative than I could spit in church.”

Written by Stephen Rees

September 15, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Posted in politics

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‘Total gridlock’ without more bridges

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The Province

The BC Liberal’s puppet pressure group makes some incredibly silly and easy to refute claims.

For what it is worth I sent the following – but I will be very surprised if it appears in print. Also worth of note is this nonsense gets the front page – something that cannot be said for anything that has ever been said about the opposition to these crazy notions

The claim by the BC Liberal front group is completely without substance.

There is not a city in the world that has managed to control traffic congestion by adding roads. In fact one of the best documented phenomena in transportation is that traffic expands to fill the space available. Of course, the Province of BC ignores this as the regional transportation model assumes that the total number of trips made in the region by each person is fixed. They assume that traffic is simply a function of population. Every behavioural study of trip making shows this to be false.

It is also incredibly stupid to be proposing more capacity for cars which will still mostly be running on fossil fuels for decades to come. We have to get serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and that means providing people with alternative ways to get around that are more fuel efficient. The same amount of money spent on transit would not just be more effective, it would also greatly improve the sustainability of our development pattern.

And by the way “gridlock” is very rare and at best a transient occurrence. Nobody is stupid enough to make a trip on a road that they know is going to be blocked.

And the same story is in the Sun too – but on page 3 with this information

[Jordan] Bateman [the spokesperson for “Get Moving BC] is a Langley township councillor with strong ties to the B.C. Liberals. He served as vice-president of Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman’s Fort Langley-Aldergrove riding association and was communications director of Coleman’s last re-election campaign.

Bateman described his organization as an “ad-hoc” group of six residents living south of the Fraser, with a variety of political stripes.

And anyway who thinks that we should try to be more like Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Saskatoon?

Written by Stephen Rees

September 15, 2008 at 8:50 am

Posted in Transportation

Surrey Mayor Watts queries bridge twinning assumptions

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TriCity News

The pressure on the Gateway is increasing. Politicians are beginning to get the message that widening bridges and freeways cannot cure congestion and certainly will not help meet the increasing demands for more and better transit. Moreover the Patullo Bridge was supposed to be the toll free alternative to the Port Mann but now the nearest toll free bridge will be the Alex Fraser. Kevin Falcon disingenuously suggests it will be a short trip down the SFPR, neglecting to point out that there is actually no connection between the Port Mann and the SFPR – Highway 1 crosses SFPR high above with no plans to build an intersection.

The fear is that cities battling to keep pace with growth will be forced to make assumptions about transit and transportation that may not line up with what is ultimately approved by the province and built, resulting in inefficiently designed cities with expensive transit systems too few residents can actually use.

“There has to be a master plan in place so we have the direction we’re going in,” added Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, who chairs the mayors council.

She also questioned whether newly announced plans by TransLink to replace the aging Pattullo Bridge with a new larger bridge changes the assumptions the province made when it decided to twin the Port Mann Bridge.

Watts said there had been no talk of a replacement for the Pattullo Bridge when the Port Mann twinning was announced and approved.

“How is that going to impact the twinning of the Port Mann?” she asked. “There has to be an assessment done.”

The other factor worth noting too is the the new Golden Ears Bridge will be an attractive route between Surrey, the Tri Cities and Maple Meadows – and much of the congestion on the Port Mann is currently caused by this short distance traffic. The four and five sailing waits on the current Albion Ferry service are a dictinct deterrent – and often going to the Port Mann or the Mission bridge is quicker if much longer in distance.

Notice too that the Mayors have taken the view that passenger transport is what is significant. Not a word about trucks.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 15, 2008 at 7:45 am

Posted in Transportation


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Come out and support your neighbours–

It’s time to tell the Province:


Attention all! The time has come to bring the Gateway Project crashing down.


The government of BC is trying to tell us that the Gateway Project is a done deal. They are doing preliminary work to prepare for the twinning of the Port Mann bridge and are taking steps towards building the massively destructive South Fraser Perimeter Road. The environmental, social and economic effects of these measures would be tragic and irreversible…for residents north and south of the Fraser, through the Valley, and throughout the region.

However, the Province still does not have federal approval for either of these projects, and no contracts have been signed with the companies that will actually do the work. With the Provincial election months away,and federal and municipal elections happening as we speak, politicians are trying to paint themselves “green” and hoping that Gateway will NOT become a big smelly public election issue, so that they can move ahead on it after the elections. So, NOW is the perfect time to bring Gateway back to the front pages – to draw attention to how disgusting the idea really is and to show the region that ALL of our communities, along with environmental groups, economists, decisions-makers and especially VOTERS, stand together to say NO TO GATEWAY.

Citizen action has stopped freeways here before. We can do it again.


On Saturday September 27 there will be a giant rally in a park at the foot of the Port Mann bridge, at the point where the SFPR and an expanded highway #1 would intersect. This symbolic location will be a staging ground for bringing together people concerned about all the aspects of the foolish and backward proposal we call Gateway.

The Rally is at Robin Park in Birdland, in Surrey. Birdland, at the foot of the Port Mann Bridge,  is one of the communities that stands to be most devastated by the proposed 80km and hour, 6-lane SFPR highway to accommodate all the new the diesel trucks coming off the expanded Delta Port. Robin Park would be paved over by the SFPR if allowed to proceed and the highway would drastically reduce the quality of life in this neighbourhood immediately.


Saturday September 27, 1pm
Robin Park, Birdland, Surrey

Featuring inspiration by community leaders, environmental activists, elected officials, and YOU.
Bring signs and banners and drums, tell your neighbours, bring your family and friends! Together WE CAN STOP THIS.
Download a flyer at, to copy and distribute to your neighbours – and check that site for more details.
There will be a FREE SHUTTLE BUS from the Gateway SkyTrain Station to the rally. Please carpool, take transit, or organize buses to the rally if you can!


Concerned citizens in Surrey and Delta have joined forces to produce lawn signs (see to illustrate their frustration. The signs say WE DON’T WANT THESE TRUCKIN’ FREEWAYS!  These will be available by donation at the Rally, or feel free to make your own and start distributing them to your neighbours. For more information about Lawn Signs contact ben (at)


See you all out on Saturday, September 27, to witness the historic beginning of THE END OF GATEWAY!
…pass it on…


Ben West | Healthy Communities Campaigner
Wilderness Committee | Canada’s largest membership-based wilderness preservation organization
ben (at)
w: 604-683-8220 | c: 604-710-5340 |

Written by Stephen Rees

September 15, 2008 at 7:27 am

Posted in Gateway

Tagged with