UBE: Down to the Wire

Here we are, four weeks after the first “stakeholder meeting” opened the floodgates on the United Boulevard Extension. Tomorrow is the final public consultation meeting TransLink will hold for the project. After that meeting, it is up to New Westminster City Council to decide if this project is acceptable to the people of New Westminster.

The discussion in the City over the last month has been enlightening.

We have had Voice commenters suggesting this whole thing is evidence of some sort of conspiracy from the bowels of City Hall. Of course, Voice generally opines that everything from the colour of the sky to the lack of quality television is evidence of some sort of evil-doings by the current Mayor and Council. But they make some interesting points, and are giving the Mayor and Council every opportunity to disappoint them by doing the right thing.

We have the McBride-Sapperton Residents Association holding what might be their best-attended meeting ever, passing a motion that “opposes all Options A through D and requests that Translink defer the United Boulevard Extension portion of the North Fraser Perimeter Road project until the entire North Fraser Perimeter Road project is dealt with as a complete and comprehensive plan”.

There has been a spirited back and forth in the local media, bringing multiple aspects to the story, but largely centering around the need for there to be a more comprehensive plan for transportation in New Westminster, not just a wait-and-see that ends with us suffering in the consequences of patchwork transportation planning.

TransLink has been in damage control, doing a little Astroturf blogging to tell their side of the story, but not really addressing the concerns raised in their earlier meeting. Mostly they say this will reduce traffic in Sapperton (but don’t really explain how), they say it will reduce greenhouse gases (but don’t say how…). Their “FAQ” for the site is a stunning case of cognitive dissonance…

And I have yet to hear a single credible voice in the City saying this is a good idea, and that this project serves the citizens of New Westminster in any way. I think the debate is over.

Last month, in calling for people to attend the first public meeting, I said the following:

“Show up on Thursday at the meeting at the Justice Institute, not to protest, but to learn”

But now the time has come to protest. There will be an open mike at this second meeting: use it. Ask TransLink the hard questions and give them, along with the City Councilors (who will no doubt be in the audience), a clear message that this project is a waste of our money, and threatens the livability of our City. Make it easy for our elected officials to say “No” to TransLink, by making it clear to everyone that this project does not serve New Westminster.

Then follow up in two ways: you can send comments on-line to TransLink.

Then you can contact each of your Councillors prior to next week’s council meeting. Just a short, respectful e-mail to request that they say “no” to all four TransLink Options, and that they get started developing a new vision for transportation in New Westminster.

This is only the first step towards solving the traffic problem in the City, but with so much attention back on our City’s roads leading into a municipal election year, this may be the watershed moment.

Edited to add: the Voice blog has just posted the full text of the letter the MSRA have sent to Mayor and Council. This definitely throws the gauntlet down for TransLink. 

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