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

Archive for October 17th, 2008

Kansas City

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I have been spending a few days here visiting my daughter, who decided to go to school here. The KC Metro Area is home to about 2m people, so in terms of population it is about the same as Metro Vancouver. I cannot claim a great deal of knowledge about the place after two days, but some impressions are telling.

Kansas became a wealthy and important place because of the railways that concentrated on the crossing point of the Missouri. Cattle could stand about a days travel in a cattle car – so Kansas City was the point where the meat packing took place. It was also an important centre for grain. Union Station built in the early years of the last century is monumental – only New York’s Grand Central is bigger. Passenger rail is now a shadow of its former self, although light rail is going to be on the ballot in the Missouri city. The state line runs north south through the metro area.

The dominant mode is, of course, the car. Freeways carve up the landscape. There is a grid of arterials. And mostly low density residential, single use neighborhoods, which get much less dense as you get further from the centre. The roads get much faster and wider too, with large commercial centres that seem to be mostly parking lots. In the newer areas, you can easily navigate to fill your needs, since the locations of most services within these developments are uniform. There are, after all, only seven types of development recognised by Wall Street, and the layouts follow standard patterns. After all, they have been shown to work.

But perhaps this very predictability is what spurs the regeneration of inner city areas. There is much renovation and renewal, and most attempt to restore the vitality of the street. Though full pedestrianisation seems to be taboo.

Union Station

Union Station

Union Station has become an entertainment and visitor attraction,thanks to a temporary injection of funds from a local sales tax. The huge war memorial, built in the 1920s, has become a national museum for World War 1 and is worth the journey here in itself. It is not as you might expect jingostic or slanted toward the US role. It is very objective and historically accurate, and a fascinating insight into how the war both impacted individuals and changed the world.

WW1 Museum

WW1 Museum

The great draw is the creation of a shopping and dining area near the major hospitals. The Country Club Plaza is designed to look like Seville, KC’s twin city in Spain.

The Country Club Plaza

The Country Club Plaza

And everywhere fountains and sculpture create focal points.

Very interesting

Written by Stephen Rees

October 17, 2008 at 6:51 am

Posted in Urban Planning

Tagged with

The Road and The Bog

with one comment

The following is an open letter sent by Don Hunt of the Sunbury Neighborhood Association spelling out, chapter and verse, the effects of the SFPR on Burns Bog

Mayor and Council

Corporation of Delta

Dear Mayor and Council,

I recently read a newspaper article where George Harvie was quoted as saying that the SFPR would not impact the Partnership lands.

Where is he getting his information?

Environment Canada, Transport Canada, The Environmental Stewardship Division of British Columbia, and the Burns Bog Scientific Advisory Panel all say that it will, and that the damage cannot be mitigated.

The SFPR Environmental Application even admits that;

“In relation to the ecological boundaries of Burns Bog, the Ministry of Transportation proposes to construct portions of SFPR on land that is part of the bog and directly connected to the land within the conservation area.” (Burns bog discussion paper, Pg 2, Paragraph 3).

“Removal of peat-producing vegetation or vegetation at the bog margin that acts as a buffer between central bog communities and surrounding terrestrial ecosystems would have implications not only for the immediately affected vegetation but for the entire ecosystem.” (SFPR Environmental Application; Burns Bog Discussion Paper).

“…the SFPR is expected to cause footprint impacts to 28.79 ha of land in zones required for, or supporting, the viability of Burns Bog.” “…5.6 ha of the affected land with ecological values is in zone 1 or in the water mound and required for Burns Bog viability…”

(Cumulative Environmental Effects, 10.3, pg. 19, Burns Bog)

Does he understand the meaning of the word ‘Viability’?

“Bogs are complex ecosystems requiring a particular set of biophysical conditions…Due to interactions between vegetation, peat accumulation, chemical conditions, and water movement and storage, impacts to one ecosystem component will affect others. (Main Binder, p. 350, Potential Impacts to Burns Bog)

“The route also passes through ecosystems that are directly part of the bog complex and previously identified as required for the Bog’s ecological integrity (Hebda et al, 2000).”

(Scientific Advisory Panel Opinions to Environment Canada Concerning Potential Environmental Impacts of the Proposed South Fraser Perimeter Road on Burns Bog, Pg. 5)

Impacts to one part of the Bog ecosystem will have an affect on the whole. We know from the preloading activities for Highway 91 and Tilbury Industrial that the effects are felt well into the protected lands. The periphery of the Bog plays an important role in the life of the Bog, and studies of the Bog have made recommendations to protect a greater amount than the 2042 ha partnership lands to a minimum total of 2450 ha. Of the remaining 408 ha that is required to preserve Burns Bog as a viable ecosystem, the SFPR would destroy almost 288,000 square meters and isolate a large portion of the balance from the protected lands. This includes land that Delta Municipality already owns that could easily be added to the protected areas. These lands were supposed to be added to the ‘Partnership Lands’ within two years of the deal being reached….

Why has Delta not contributed its portion of these lands to the protection of the Bog?

Was that not part of the agreement?

Was there not a by-law passed to recognize these lands as ecologically significant and to protect them?

By Gateway’s own admissions, the SFPR would destroy;

Ø 3,037 square meters of undisturbed sphagnum moss habitat.

Ø 4,780 square meters of red-listed plant communities.

Ø 61,958 square meters of red-coded Pacific Water Shrew Habitat

And the recent shift in the alignment by Sherwood Forest would also destroy roosting and foraging habitat for large numbers of threatened bird populations including Trumpeter Swans, Great Blue Herons, Bald eagles, Owls, and the Sandhill Crane.

And the MoT has stated in a Technical Memorandum to Environment Canada that;

In considering refinements to the alignment on the west side of Burns Bog, analysis undertaken by MoT indicates that a further shift (i.e., to the west side of Crescent Slough) would not eliminate impacts to areas of concern to EC, associated with the original alignment, while at the same time increasing impacts to other values as follows:

Q Increase the area and intensity of zone of influence effect on wildlife habitat (i.e., Sandhill Crane, Trumpeter Swan and water associated birds) provided by agricultural fields.

Q Potential increases in collision mortality to Barn owls associated bisecting remaining foraging habitat (to the east of Crescent Slough);

Q Impacts to fisheries values (where none currently exist) associated with two crossings of Crescent Slough; and

Q In order to minimize impacts to agricultural values the alignment will still be required cross, and impact, some ecological values associated with the Corporation of Delta lands north of the Nottingham property.

It is noted that the proposed relocation does have cost (est. $20 million) and other social, economic and community effects which are also a critical part of the Environmental Assessment review.

(Technical memorandum to Lisa Walls, A/Manager, Pollution Prevention and Assessment Section from Malcolm Smith, Environmental Manager, SFPR Project on September 21, 2007, regarding MoT Responses to Environment Canada Comments on South Fraser Perimeter Road, Page 8)

Let me give you the quote once again…

“the Province, Delta, and the GVRD shall not do anything, or allow anything to be done, that does or could reasonably be expected to destroy, impair, diminish, negatively affect, or alter the Bog…”

There is clearly enough evidence to invoke the protective covenant and stop the SFPR from being built near the Bog.

The only people saying that the SFPR wouldn’t impact the ‘Partnership lands’ are the Kevin Falcon, Geoff Freer and George Harvie!

Every Regional plan and OCP since the 1960s has emphasized the protection of our environment and our Green space.

The recent International symposium on Wetlands and Peatlands, (U.N. Peatlands Conference, Bali 2007), said that the importance of protecting our Bogs and wetlands cannot be overstated.

Peat Bogs sequester ten times more carbon than any other ecosystem of the same size, and “conservation and restoration of peatlands can be up to 100 times more cost effective as other carbon sequestration measures”

I would like to arrange a meeting with your Worship and any councilors that are willing stand up for the protection of Burns Bog to discus how we can move towards stopping the SFPR from impacting the bog and getting Burns Bog recognized as a Ramsar/UNESCO site to give it some real protection.

Looking forward to a speedy reply,

Most sincerely,

Don Hunt

Sunbury Neighbourhood Association

Written by Stephen Rees

October 17, 2008 at 6:22 am

Posted in Environment, Transportation

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