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

Archive for February 2018

Patullo Bridge Replacement

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Improving safety and creating jobs

Province of BC picture on flickr

Premier Horgan announced today that the province is going to take over the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge.

I must admit that I was somewhat surprised, but on reflection I think Horgan’s announcement of the removal of tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges left him nowhere else to go. The only way that Translink could have built the bridge is through the previous government’s preferred method of user pay through a P3 agreement.

The Pattullo Bridge replacement project will be delivered solely by the Province. The project includes a new Pattullo Bridge that will be located upstream of the existing one, network connections in Surrey and New Westminster, and the removal of the existing bridge. The new Pattullo Bridge will be owned, operated and maintained by the Government of British Columbia.

That seems to me to be the clearest possible repudiation. I wonder if it also presages other possible changes in future. There was very little logic in the choices of the infrastructure downloaded from the province – other than avoiding anticipated future expenditures. The Knight Street Bridge carries a provincial highway (Highway 91) but needed urgent attention to improve its seismic stability.  The Westham Island Bridge is a purely local affair within Delta and doesn’t even rate a mention as part of the Major Road Network. The Annacis Island bridge does connect Delta and New Westminster, but is also not on the MRN, carries the Southern Railway of BC, and remained a provincial responsibility. And then there’s the Lion’s Gate bridge which also remained provincial. There were no provincial highways within the City of Vancouver to be downloaded, but a rationale for payments from the MRN was one of the ways that George Puil persuaded his colleagues on council to sign up for Translink.

Of course it is a reasonable way to proceed with the aged and decrepit bridge, but I do wonder what it says about the only regional, multimodal transportation authority. I always felt that the MRN was a way to redirect funds from transit to road building. That was also the case with the Golden Ears, which was never really needed, as Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows were outside of the Growth Concentration Area. Though arguably the decision to introduce West Coast Express through those communities was a stimulus to suburban sprawl. The use of Translink funds to the now defunct bridge tolling company was indeed detrimental to transit: it diverted funds to shareholders that ought to have been spent on transit operations and maintenance.

I have also seen more than once the argument that “balanced” transportation is not what it is needed in urban areas. We need to address decades of underfunding and neglect that motordom has inflicted on transit, walking and cycling infrastructure.

Let it be noted that separated and protected walking and cycling paths are promised for both sides of the new bridge which will only have four general purpose traffic lanes. Good.

This announcement does make things easier for the Mayors’ Council to arrive at an agreement on future transit expansion in the region, since they no longer have to carry their share of the $1.377-billion bridge. But there still exists a significant gap between what the province and federal governments have committed for transit expansion and what has to be funded from local sources. And that won’t be coming from bridge tolls.

POSTSCRIPT

The Executive Director of TransLink Mayors’ Council Mike Buda tweeted the following Point of Clarification: the transfer of Pattullo Bridge ownership to the province will not affect the $70M regional funding gap since the 10-Year Vision assumed toll revenue to pay for it.

 

Written by Stephen Rees

February 16, 2018 at 11:11 am

Posted in Transportation

Fair Vote Webinar Invitation

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I have a conflict on this day but I hope some readers in BC will be interested – and pass this along if you know someone in PEI


Sunday March 4, 7 PM EST (4 PM PST)
International Guests: How Proportional Representation Works for Voters in the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and the Netherlands!

 

Ever wondered how proportional representation works in other countries? Does PR affect “stability”? What role do small parties play? What effect does proportional representation have on policy? On democratic engagement? What about “extremists”? How do parties work together and get things done?

Join us for a webinar with two special guests from Australia and the Netherlands!

With BC’s third referendum on electoral reform only nine months away, a second referendum in PEI expected soon, and the 2019 federal election coming up fast, this discussion has never been more important.

When: Sunday March 4, 7 PM EST (4 PM in BC, 5 PM in Alberta, 8 PM in Atlantic Canada)
Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4674664234015786753

Special guests:

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Malcolm Baalman:

Malcolm is an Australian with over 20 years professional experience working in and around legislatures and the public sector at federal, state and local government levels in Australia. He’s worked as an advisor to an Independent MLA, as the Senior Advisor/Chief-of-Staff to independent Minister for Health, Community Care, Housing and Corrections, and as a Victorian state public servant. Full bio here.

Voters in Tasmania have been using PR-STV (Single Transferable Vote – the PR system recommended by the BC Citizens Assembly) for elections since the 1890s. Tasmania will elect its House of Assembly on Saturday March 3. Malcolm will discuss the use of PR in Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory, the election results in Tasmania and the lessons that Canadian electoral reformers can take from their southern cousins.

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Sjeng Derkx

Sjeng, originally from Holland, where voters elect representatives using Flexible List PR. Sjeng is a lifelong political junkie. He has worked every available election job in BC, from organizing the Provincial and Federal elections as the Deputy Returning Officer, to taking votes at the voting booth, to sweeping the floors after the election is over.

Sjeng campaigned for BC-STV in 2009. He ran as a Green Party candidate in Nelson-Creston in the 2013 Provincial election, achieving the strongest result for a Green candidate outside Vancouver Island, but currently has no strong political party affiliation.

Sjeng believes that the 2018 BC referendum is a key opportunity to reduce the influence of political elites and special interests, and to return political power back to where it belongs, with us, the voters.

Following the presentation, you’ll be able to ask questions of Malcolm and Sjeng via a chat box. We’ll answer as many as we can!

Only proportional systems can deliver on our most important values: Fair results, real majorities, real voter choice, collaborative politics, diversity, regional balance, and more ability to hold our politicians accountable!

Please share this webinar widely with friends who may be interested.

Thanks for being part of the campaign to Make Every Vote Count!

Sincerely,

Anita Nickerson
Acting Executive Director, Fair Vote Canada
Fair Vote Canada / Représentation équitable au Canada

283 Danforth Avenue #408
Toronto, ON M4K 1N2
Canada

Written by Stephen Rees

February 15, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Posted in electoral reform

Tagged with , ,

Speed Cameras

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The following is the text of an email that I sent to  B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth inspired by this article in the Times Colonist:


I strongly support the proposal to install distance based speed cameras. While the Malahat is a good opportunity for a trial, this type of speed limit enforcement actually needs no demonstration project as its efficacy has long been established by its use in the United Kingdom.

I would also suggest that there are numerous locations where cameras would catch large number of offenders if they do not change their behaviour. I suggest that you respond to the inevitable claims “this is a cash grab” by agreeing wholeheartedly. We desperately need revenues to repair the damage done to ICBC by the previous administration, and it is only fair that those who have exploited the truly appalling decision to abandon photo radar now pay for their willingness to endanger their own lives as well as others.

I recommend the Oak Street bridge as being a suitable location for the first implementation of interval cameras in the Lower Mainland. The posted speed limit is 60 km/hr and very few vehicles actually cross that bridge at less than 80.


For reference: Article on UK speed cameras

Written by Stephen Rees

February 15, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Transportation

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sweet

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Sweet

And you can't get them anywhere elseIMG_4543IMG_8813IMG_8058IMG_4754IMG_7000IMG_5861

And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go take a gliclazide.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 14, 2018 at 10:50 am

Rezoning the Arbutus Development

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Arbutus Rezone

I had thought that I had written something here about the redevelopment of the Arbutus Mall which is just next door to where I live. I am actually quite surprised that I haven’t been able to find anything. It is mostly on flickr. So to give you a very quick background, when Arbutus Village was first built it was a real exercise in being a complete community. There were apartments and townhouses, a park and a shopping centre which included some local services, like dentists and insurance offices, as well as a recreation centre. The Mall had a large Safeway as its anchor tenant as well as a liquor store, bank, dollar store and so on, with a significant about of surface parking between the buildings and Arbutus Street.

Arbutus Mall 4.6.17 panorama

A couple of years ago, a new development was approved to excavate the parking lot and build more apartments over the commercial and retail at the ground floor, with parking underground.  I was quite pleased to see that start construction as the huge high level flood lights for the parking had been shining into our apartment windows all night long.  The light pollution meant we could never see any stars. It also interfered with my sleep. Of course it was a blow to see all the small businesses disappear. Safeway kept the pharmacy open – a requirement of their license, with a small convenience store providing essentials. The Liquor Store also stayed open to protect its grandfathered rights which might otherwise be lost due to the proximity of the Prince of Wales High School. The post office tried to stay open but couldn’t, due to lack of foot traffic. And we lost our recreation centre to commercial operations of a dance school and a swimming school. At least the indoor pool now saw much more use than formerly.

Arbutus Mall redevelopment pan

The scale of the proposed development was roughly equivalent to the buildings around it. There are three condo buildings of six storeys – known around here as “high rise”. What the developer was going to build was not too different – and there would be more townhouses and a wider social mix as the city was insisting on more rental units. Once development got underway on the first two buildings, the developer (Larco) applied for greater density on the part of the site closer to our building and the park. This evening we went to an Open House. The information on the many boards around the room is available on the city web page . There are a lot of documents there too.

The City Vancouver has received a rezoning application for 2133 Nanton Avenue (the Arbutus Centre) to amend the existing CD-1 (642) (Comprehensive Development) District. The proposal would increase the residential floor area, including an increase in the number of market and social housing units. The specific amendments include:

  • An increase in the maximum allowable floor space for all uses from 67,065 sq. m (721,881 sq. ft) to 77,611 sq. m (835,400 sq. ft.). The additional floor space is to be accommodated on Blocks C and D (the western portion of the site).
  • An increase to the maximum building height on Block C from 57 m (187 ft.) to 60 m (197 ft.) and the maximum building height on Block D from 57 m (187 ft.) to 72 m (236 ft.).

The rezoning application proposes no change to the amount of office and commercial space, and includes an expanded Neighbourhood House.

The images below are taken from the Applicant Boards pdf file available on the City web page.

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The scale drawings give a much better idea of how much bigger the new proposal is compared to the pictures. In fact I think the Block C illustrations are almost comically misleading. The size of the block in the new proposal seems to be comparable to the original at first glance until you realise that the scale is quite different. Not only are there more storeys above ground, the below ground is also greatly enlarged, although the consultant told me that the parking ratio is only one space per unit. Two spaces for car share are included – which might at long last see some Modo cars parked here, something I have been lobbying for, though I think two is unlikely to be adequate. I also suggested that dedicated parking for evo and car2go be included. The Arbutus Club across the street already provides a lot of demand for both.

Given that the site is adjacent to the #16 trolleybus we might, I hope, see more service on that given the number of other four storey additions to commercial areas in Kerrisdale and the proposed major transit interchange at Broadway and Arbutus once the stubway opens. I suspect that the ratio of one parking space per unit will also generate considerable on street parking demand as the retailers will want to reserve much of their underground for customers.

I know that the major concern I have heard from my neighbours is the scale and height of the buildings. We are also aware of other developments that are going to be proposed on Eddington at Valley (Amica – currently a two storey residential care facility, with the adjacent townhouse development) and at McBain and Valley/King Edward (currently town houses and three storey condo apartment block). We do not know how high these will be yet, but the fear is that Larco’s proposal will set a precedent for much taller buildings.

In the applicant’s rendering shown below the building I live in is at the bottom right hand corner. The Amica building slated for redevelopment is behind it – about half way up the right hand side of the image. At this time we have no idea how high that will be.

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The Arbutus Ridge Community Association is certainly not happy.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 13, 2018 at 8:24 pm

The Case for Ultra-high-speed Rail Across Cascadia

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An article in the Georgia Strait summarizes a report to Washington State Department of Transportation which examines the case for a new very high speed rail link between Vancouver BC and Portland OR. The potential for hyperloop is also mentioned but quickly discarded as the technology is not yet ready for implementation.

Happily the Strait includes a link to the report itself – a 94 page pdf which includes some very general maps but no actual alignments. Instead it shows where the freeways are, and also suggests that a link between Seattle and Spokane needs to be assessed as well.

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This appears to be the favoured choice at present. Though I was struck by the apparently quite small advantage in terms of ridership between the MAGLEV and HSR model results

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Of course a lot more work needs to be done, and the report identifies these next steps. Not the least of these is the analysis of what needs to happen at the border. This is, of course, completely outside of the state jurisdiction and we can only hope that by the time any of this comes to pass, that a more sensible approach to border “security” between Canada and the US will have also come about. I won’t hold my breath on either account.

And here is a picture of a High Speed Train – which was not included in the original report

TGV 4409

My photo on Flickr

Technology Differentiation Results

7. In 2035, maglev seems to cover O&M costs in most alternatives; a small subsidy may be needed in the earlier period (2035) for HSR. By 2055, all corridor technological alternatives cover O&M and assist in capital carrying costs to various degrees.

8. While maglev and HSR have different capital and operating benefits over time, the CONNECT tool does not provide sufficient data to choose a specific technology at this time. More detailed technical analysis is required to select among the feasible technologies being examined.

Intercity Travel Mode Share Results

9. Both technologies have the potential to shift a significant share of the intercity travel market torail. For these technologies at 12 round trips, 12 to 17 percent of the travel market by 2035 could be diverted to UHSGT.

10. Conversely, the utilization of capacity is relatively low, indicating an immature market or a model input limitation. As noted in #1, a more detailed analysis of how the market economies are changing needs to be completed to adequately predict future ridership and revenue.

POSTSCRIPT

For context, the introduction of a direct high speed rail service between London and Amsterdam shows why trains can compete with air. In this case the flight time is around an hour and the new train will be closer to four. But add in the security line ups and this is actually competitive. Plus the train is actually comfortable, and the stations are usually much closer to where you are or want to be compared to the airport. But read through to the end to see how the British have managed to make getting in to Britain much harder – long before Brexit.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 10, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Weekly Photo Challenge: Tour Guide

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Tour Guide

Share with us an image, or two, or three, (or more!) of where you live. For bonus points, tell us what it is about the photo(s) that you love.

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Vancouver BC sits on the Burrard Inlet, one of the finest natural harbours anywhere. I recommend using the SeaBus to get across it – at weekends and in the evening one of the cheapest harbour tours anywhere.

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Vancouver has magnificent beaches, clean water and very safe swimming. Tourists tend to go for the “standard sights” like Stanley Park, or the Steam Clock in Gastown. I would recommend you set aside some time just to relax, go sit on the beach and admire the scenery.

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If you feel like a bit of exercise go for a walk in the woods. On the North Shore are a couple of reservoirs in closed watersheds, with old growth forests and many trails. This one is Capilano but Seymour is just as good.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 7, 2018 at 12:49 pm