The Record hit the United Boulevard Connector story today by cornering the Mayor at what should have been a good-news day for him (the opening of the anchor store at the new River Market), and asking a bunch of uncomfortable questions. Uncomfortable because it was almost record cold out, uncomfortable because he probably would have rather talked about the another piece falling into place in the refurbishment of New Westminster’s waterfront, and uncomfortable because that is how his answers made me feel:
“The people came out and showed they won’t accept it. There are four different scenarios – only one was acceptable.”
Somehow, I didn’t get the impression from the Open House at the Justice institute that any of the four scenarios presented by TransLink were acceptable to the people in the room. The one he is alluding to, Option “A” (aka the “T” Option), is slightly better than the others, in that it won’t involve knocking down as many buildings, but it hardly provides good value for our $170 million in tax money, nor does it actually fix any traffic issues. Council can insist they put some “landscaping” in front of the proposed wall, but it doesn’t really matter how much polish you put on a turd. When will he acknowledge that Option E is not only a viable choice, it is the best choice?
But Councillor Harper steals the limelight again with his quixotic quotes:
“You want to live with the existing conditions that we are faced with – 300 trucks an hour?” he said. “I never drive that way. If I have to go across town, I don’t drive there – day or night.”
Apparently, councillor Harper’s solution to “too many trucks” is to build more room and invite more trucks. Or is he suggesting the problem is too few trucks?
At least the residents of Sapperton don’t have to worry about Councillor Harper rat-running though their neighbourhood, the denizen of the West End apparently doesn’t do Brunette (perhaps he prefers blondes? Is that the first blonde/brunette joke in this whole debate? Can’t be).
Or maybe I am being hasty, maybe I am not digging deep enough here. Councillor Harper loves to remind me how he was there when the NWEP started out, perhaps I underestimate his green cred. Maybe I am missing the subtext of his comments… the underlying message?
When he says he doesn’t drive there, perhaps he isn’t showing distain for poor planning, or a general feeling against the neighbourhood. Perhaps he is intentionally demonstrating the concept of “induced demand” to the unknowing public. He is suggesting that he chooses alternate routes (or modes? he didn’t say how often he flies over Brunette on the Skytrain) because the current infrastructure is a disincentive. Therefore, if we build a $170 Million overpass, he is more likely to drive there, at least until everyone else follows his lead and plugs the system up again. Except it will be 600 or 1000 trucks plugging it up, instead of 300.
So with crushing logic, Councillor Harper intentionally proves that we don’t need the overpass by implying that we do! He is a clever fox: one opponents better watch closely in November…
There was an almost completely unrelated story in the Record this week about how some parents are suggesting that more traffic in New Westminster might not be the best thing for their kids. Almost completely unrelated.