Council to Translink: not so fast. -Now With Video!

Thanks to Matt Laird, you can all enjoy the video of Mondays’ UBE discussion at council. Now I’m making it easy to show how much I paraphrased. Note the twitchy, swarthy guy in the background behind Laird… he looks like a trouble-maker…

Once again, local rabble-rouser Matt Laird took his 5 minutes of allotted council time to keep the issue of the United Boulevard Extension out in front of council.

For those not paying attention, a motion came out of the Working Session on Monday, the essentially told Translink to come back with something better.

Long and short of it, Translink has again managed to put off the “deadline” for securing Federal funds for this project (proving once again that the “deadline” is more like a “justrestingline”), and will work with the City to see if they can find a solution to the Front Street part of the NFPR in time to make the UBE more tenable.

Contrary to some reports, this does not mean that the City has agreed to the UBE, only to keep their minds open and see what TransLink has to offer. This is (in my never humble opinion) the right tack to take. Lets not close our eyes to all offers, let’s see what they can come up with, then decide if the proposed solution improves out City.

The public opinion on this project is such that all 6 council members felt they had to comment on Laird’s delegation and the motion that went forward. For those who missed it, the entire session should be up by some time mid-week at Matt’s website: Here are my comments on their comments (of course, there comments are paraphrased from my notes at the meeting, please let me know if I mis-quote any of them!).

4:21, Councillor McEvoy: Is curious to see how Translink plans to improve traffic flow but not increase traffic volume.

This is a significant question, and perhaps cuts to the very heart of the matter. As anyone involved in transportation planning can tell you, traffic usually expands to fill the void. If we double traffic capacity on the NFPR, we can only expect traffic to double, resulting in an equal amount of congestion concomitant with increased noise, pollution, maintenance costs, etc. etc.

6:10, Councillor MacIntosh: Reminded us that the industrial area in Sapperton needs help, they are suffering from congestion and need to be able to move goods to survive. She also reminded us that the Federal Money being offered is intended to increase efficiency and safety of train operations (supported in this case by replacing a level crossing with an overpass). Finally, she made it clear the Translink will be evaluating various options, perhaps including a 2-lane bridge to replace the Bailey, or re-routing Braid industrial Area traffic through Coquitlam, where new road infrastructure is being built already.

These comments brought to my mind (as echoed by Laird), that the problem is commuter cars using our industrial roads as a shortcut, clogging them up so goods-carrying vehicles can not get through. Essentially, this is the same problem as “Rat Running” in the residential parts of Sapperton. It is not clear how this problem for our important industrial citizens will be solved by knocking down some of their businesses to make room for a road that will only serve to funnel more commuter traffic through the industrial area. This is suspiciously close to fighting fire with matches.

If the Feds and Railways have the goal of improving upon the level crossing, and the City’s goal is to make Braid Industrial Area more accessible, then these goals may not coincide with TransLink’s goal to build more roads and Coquitlam’s goal to improve traffic flow to the big box hell (and soon car-oriented development hell) that is United Boulevard.

10:39, Councillor Harper: Started by reminding us that this is a complex problem, and that there will not only not be a single answer, there is also not a single goal. He rhetorically asks if we have “address” truck traffic, then non-rhetorically answers in the affirmative. Harper seems to be the one most in favour of the existing offer from Translink, as he lists the issues relating to the existing situation on Brunette and Columbia, but he fails to close the loop on how any of these problems will be solved by the UBE (although he alludes to “mitigation”) or how building a 4-lane freeway amounts to “reclaiming out waterfront”. He finishes by questioning how long before we have another “opportunity” to get $65 million in Federal money to build our way out of this problem.

After my erlier comments about conflicting goals, I think all of Council should, at least, have a single goal: to make New Westminster a more livable, more prosperous, and more sustainable community. I look back at the Mayor’s annual address, and I see one goal laid out again and again: Make the City more livable. If there are any other goals here, let’s get them out on the table.

I’m not sure how one “addresses” truck traffic. The way I see it, we have three options: have more, have the same amount, or have less. The things that make any single truck safer, less polluting, or quieter are outside the City’s jurisdiction. All we really can control is the number or trucks, and we control that by building the infrastructure to accommodate them. You can argue that we need to build more capacity to accommodate more trucks, but don’t then complain about increased noise and pollution. You can argue that we need to reduce truck traffic, but if you do this, you had better be ready to work with our industrial and commercial citizens to make sure you don’t drive (ha ha) them our of business or to another jurisdiction. The third option is to not build more capacity. This will, of course, require you to do both: :mitigate the already significant pollution and noise issues, and work with our business partners to make the existing infrastructure more efficient for them. In many ways, this is the most difficult option, but might represent the best option for a City like New Westminster.

Finally, the $65 million is a red herring argument. That is not Federal Stimulus money, it is money earmarked for Asia-Pacific Gateway improvement. If New Westminster along with it’s partners at the railway, Translink, and the Province find a way to free up train travel and increase level crossing safety, the money will be there. This is separate from the entire idea that we must do something because “someone else” will pay for a portion of it. That is not really visionary, especially when that “someone else” is actually us, the taxpayer. If it serves the community and other levels of Government are willing to contribute (Pier Park anyone?), then great. But if it doesn’t serve us, we should be responsible enough to say no thank you.

17:25,Councillor Osterman: Recognizes the traffic problem as a problem, citing traffic by the Columbia Square and 20th Street as good examples: “the system needs work”. He agrees that we need the long-term plan in place before we spend money unwisely. He is also of the opinion that New Westminster (and potentially all of Greater Vancouver) is on the “cusp”, but I didn’t really get the idea of what cusp he was speaking of…after all, cusps can be the top of a wave, or they can be the edge of a cliff…

It is interesting that the traffic problems Osterman outlines (primarily, his own hassles commuting in a single occupant vehicle to the airport and back, and trying to get to Council on time) are likely to be made worse by the UBE, and worse yet if the full 4-lane NFPR is built on Front Street. These projects will just move the traffic choke point to his neighborhood.

I think (and hope) he meant the cusp where a larger investment directed at public and alternative transportation will be required to make our Cities livable over into the next Century. This is the time when we start to seriously move away from building transportation infrastructure based on the individual automobile and start building it based on the realities of Peak Oil, Climate change, and what type of City we want to live in 10, 20, 50 years from now. Osterman cited European examples, and I concur that northern Europe is full of amazing cities with enviable transportation systems: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo, even London.


21:50, Councillor Cote: Surprised me by mentioning that he did not support the motion, as he feels strongly that the Patullo Bridge question must be answered at the same time as the NFPR question, the two solutions must happen hand-in-hand, and with the Patullo decision delayed until the fall, that cannot happen.

I can see both sides of this coin. Yes, ideally, the entire system should be dealt with holistically (and, uh, is sort of required to under CEAA, but I digress). However, the Patullo decision might just be out of TransLink’s hands, as Premier Falcon is going to want to cut the ribbon on that one at the most opportune time. So if Translink can run the numbers with each of the three most likely Patullo upgrade outcomes (refurbishing the existing bridge; replacing with a 4-lane bridge; replacing with expanded capacity) then the City may have something that can be fairly evaluated. Now, Cote surely knows more than I about the plans, as he sat through the TransLink presentation, and I am hearing about it third hand, so I am not going to be critical of him for his principled stand.

24:50, Councillor Williams: Had little to say, but going 6th, most of it had already been said, but she reminded us once again that the City willing to agree to anything unless the entire NFPR routing is dealt with concurrently.

Overall, Council’s position on this remains clear. Although there is a spectrum of views from the Councillors, they all reflect different approaches to the same point: The UBE is part of the NFPR, and we, as a City, will not accept the piecemeal management of this major regional route through the City.

It will be interesting to see what comes back in June. With the City Engineers working on the project with TransLink, they are unlikely to come back without something they can recommend to Council. If Matt Laird’s suggestion that the physical limits at several locations along the proposed NFPR routes will preclude the 4-lane truck highway some dream about, then we might be in for quite a fight in June.

Just in time for an election campaign.

14 comments on “Council to Translink: not so fast. -Now With Video!

  1. “Roger Emanuels, manager of design and construction for the city…..

    However, he does say he’s optimistic that upcoming projects, including Patullo Bridge construction, Front Street improvements and the completion of the North Fraser Perimeter Road will bring relief. “

  2. Hmm…. A somewhat enigmatic comment…no doubt referring to this article?

    That is actually a good point to raise, and just one more page in the story here. I haven’t heard much comment so far about how Translink’s plans will interact with the existing (or new?) rail crossings, and the effect on the ongoing rail-noise issue. The crossings are not going to go away, will they be elevated? Will Begbie go over the tracks, over the CIBC building? If we stack road lanes to get past the Keg/Station, just how high are we building roads? At what cost to the streetscape?

    One more thing to include in the Master Transportation Plan, and one more thing to consider before we sign on to any TransLink plans…

  3. “and our out going premier
    who is certainly not
    going to go down as a – a
    mass transit investor
    after the gateway project
    even said skytrain is
    to 10 lanes of freeway
    if it is fully utilized
    so we have all this unused
    we could be using to
    get those cars out if we
    actually allocate the money

    Falsehood – n.
    3. Lack of conformity to truth or fact; inaccuracy.

  4. “Campbell said the [Canada] line will provide the same transportation capacity as 10 lanes of roadway along the route, reduce the number of one-way vehicle trips per day by 200,000, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 11,000 to 14,000 tonnes a year.”

    Click for source.

    Anon, If you are going to call someone a liar on this forum, don’t do it anonymously. Next time I’ll just delete it.

  5. I didn’t call anyone a liar, I submitted that content of Matt’s delegation is based on a falsehood, and the link to the CBC article is a prime example of incontrovertible proof, and journalistic integrity.

    It is no surprise to me and others, that you would want to delete those comments that question your arguments based on a false premise, anonymous or otherwise.

  6. Mr. Anonymous, if you’re not disputing the CBC article and Campbell’s own quote, would you please clarify what part of my statement is a falsehood? Or are you questioning Mr. Campbell’s statement?

    I don’t think Pat is trying to stop contrary view points, but more baseless accusation with no supporting evidence.

    I stand by my statement that Campbell and his lackie Falcon have been masters of blacktop politics and the only reason the Canada Line was built was because of the Olympics (it certainly wasn’t at the top of Translink’s priority list for rapid transit projects at the time)

  7. Mr. Matt,
    Who authored that CBC article ? Where is the original quote that was paraphrased ?

    I read another quote somewhere provide by P@j with the actual quoted text mentioning investment. If you had any good sense, YOU would be questioning Gordo’s statement, rather then promoting it as fact.

    I mean how few marbles do you really need to figure a 2 lane intermittent service electric train has the equivalent capacity as 10 lanes of highway, give your head a shake, how many marbles are in there buddy ?

    Baseless statements with no supporting evidence is exactly what I call your argument on this 10 lane nonsense. Bring facts to the table, not hyperbole.

  8. Ugh. This is getting silly. Let me dumb this down for you, our mysterious visitor.

    I do not think (and I don’t think Matt thinks) that Gordon Campbell did the traffic or economic studies required to compare highways to SkyTrains. If he hired someone to do them, I would be surprised if he had bothered to read them: there just was no margin.

    However, there is no doubt that Gordie said that the Canada Line was equivalent to the transit capacity of 10 lanes of traffic. And there are sources other than the evil CBC:

    The BC Government
    the engineers that built it
    The City of Vancouver
    Transit advocates
    Olympics knobblers
    and random crappy American news compilers

    Can we move past this now?

  9. Checked your first link, Great facts !

    – 500,000 people – The number of people who travel each day between downtown Vancouver, central Richmond and Vancouver International Airport along Main, Cambie, Oak and Granville streets.

    -100,000 people – The Canada Line is moving close to 100,000 people each day, and is expected to move 120,000 people each day in 15 years.

    P@J, according to registration records at my disposal, you work for the city of richmond, which makes you the perfect person to ask, how many lanes of traffic leave Richmond and enter Vancouver ?

    I will be happy to move past this when you submit to the fact that the equivalent capacity statement is utterly false.

  10. Well, I’ll be darned.

    I missed it, It was on that first page of facts !

    – 10 lanes – The Canada Line has a transit capacity equivalent to 10 lanes of road.

    And there it is, unequivocal proof !

    It clearly states, “transit capacity”, and not equivalent capacity as your camp postulates.

    Please also make note, it says road, and not freeway, or highway. Just road, as in the bus that goes down the road every 15 mintues. The Canada line has the equivalent transit capacity of 10 buses every 15 minutes.

    Now that intellection is based on reality, and not fancy or mimetic quotation.

  11. He just doesn’t get it. He dosn’t even know what he is arguing.

    Laird isn’t making a specific claim, he is just quoting the Premier!

    First this meathead claims the quote is inaccurate, now he is arguing the subtle difference between “evivalent capacity” and “capacity equivalent”. Anyone that stupid should remain anonymous.

  12. People, people. Can we tone it down a bit? More data, less insults, please.

    “Registration records”? Anon? I have no idea what that even means. It is a rather queer comment to make. I am pretty open about what I do, who I am, and where I stand. Everyone who reads this Blog (which seems so far to be you, Matt Laird, and occasionally my Mom) knows where I work, so what? What does that have to do with anything? Please read the “What this Is(n’t)” link over there to the right. And quit Googling me. It’s getting a little creepy.

  13. To CAT, stupid is as stupid does. Quoting the premier on misquoted transportation facts, I would call Matt Laird a simpleton, among other expletives.

    I also assert your group is pedaling deliberate disinformation in order to influence the public mindset. You shall be held to account for your cretinous propaganda in our community.

    Finally, you have made it outstandingly clear that you reading comprehension is that of an imbecile.

    P@J, I’ll tell you what QUEER is, QUEER is the fact you work for another city, and proceed to direct this city in policy through committee, association in NWEP and coaching MATT LAIRD delegations. I’m sure you don’t see any conflicts even though your employer has been exposed.

    Maybe we need a legal opinion on this ? VOICE ?

    Please google yourself, I don’t have time to waste sorting the Patrick Johnstones of the world to find the nincompoop.

  14. You know, I was going to delete that one, but what the heck, it is so silly that it is clear we are dealing with someone with a mental imbalance. Since it is anonymous, I want to leave it up to show you the things that will get you deleted (having never deleted a single message from my comments yet)
    1: Anonymously calling someone else a “simpleton”. You can call him that here, but do it with your name standing behind your statement. Cowards throwing rocks from behind the wall will be deleted.
    2: Nothing Matt said is “disinformation”, unless you are equally accusing all those other sources of deliberate misinformation. Again, you don’t support your accusation, and you make an accusation anonymously
    3: You call another commenter “cretinous” and an “imbecile”, again, anonymously. This is less of a crime because that other poster was anonymous, but based on the total readership of this blog, that was likely my Mom…so please apologise to her.
    4: You make random (again anonymous) accusations about me. I am a citizen of New Westminster, I pay my taxes in New Westminster. I volunteer in New Westminster. I hardly “direct policy” any more than casting a vote in the Civic elections. Committees are open for citizens to take part in, and I volunteer on two of them. There is no conceivable conflict with my job in Richmond. Your accusations are perilously close to libel, but since you are anonymous (except, of course, I have your IP address), They are rather meaningless. I also think you flatter the NWEP’s ability to “direct policy”, and definitely exaggerate my ability to “coach” Matt on delegations, he has been a thorn in the side of New West Council for much longer than I!
    5: Nincompoop? That’s the best you can come up with?
    6: is that you, Mom?

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