We interrupt this Public Affairs program… to bring you a Football Game!

With all due respect to Homer, this week’s televised coverage of the Council Working Session was pretty compelling. You can watch it here, by choosing the date (April 23) and selecting  “Regular Working Session of Council”

Most of it was spent talking about the upcoming Open Houses (May 3rd, have I mentioned those before?) on the Pattullo Bridge. It is interesting to hear Council work their way through the material, some of them clearly very up-to-date on the issues at hand, some not so much.

The Consultant does raise some interesting issues about the bridge itself (starting at around 23:00). He seems to spend a lot of time suggesting that the form of any replacement bridge is as important as the other aspects: as this is an iconic structure in the middle of a major urban Centre, do we want the simplest, cheapest, IKEA “Billy” bridge that is likely to result from a PPP? If the bridge is to be replaced, this is an opportunity to add to the value of our Community with a spectacular feature, perhaps one resulting from an international design competition. This is indeed an interesting idea, and one I have not heard used for major infrastructure projects sponsored by the Province. Unless people can play football under it.

But the Councillor’s differing ideas around the project are also interesting.

Starting at 30:00 Councillor Cote rightly suggests the one approach that few have discussed yet is the refurbishing of the existing bridge. This is the direction I am leaning right now ( he even mentions the similarities to the Lions Gate consultation process).

Starting at about 31:30, Councillor Puchmayr seems to be suggesting we are putting the cart ahead of the horse: why are we talking about the shape and form of the bridge, when we should be talking about the alleged need for a bridge? You don’t bring a puppy home to ask the family if they think the family should get a puppy – you make the choice before you go to the puppy mill to pick one up.

I am a little thick, but I think I finally get where Councillor Puchmayr has been going with his on-going diatribes about the lack of a connection between the new Port Mann and the SFPR. Up to now, I thought he was just pointing out an example of bad planning on the Provincial Government’s part (or shooting fish in barrels just for sport). I have now realized he seems to be suggesting that building that connection now might be a more cost-effective way to get trucks across the Fraser than re-furbishing the Pattullo. It couldn’t possibly be as expensive, and the truckers seem to think it’s a viable solution. I am liking this approach…

Starting at 34:30, Councillor McEvoy spares no love on TransLink and their “consultation” process. He is also clear that the City of New Westminster has not taken a strong position on Transportation Planning up to now, and with other communities making clear what their position is, the City needs to have their clear, sensible, and logical position prepared. (hopefully this is what comes out the MTP if we havea good turnout on May 3rd). 

Councillor Harper (@43:00) is also right to raise the central question about all of these options: the one question we are going to have to have a clear answer on before we make difficult choices around the bridge is the impact on our City of the different plans. I am especially glad to hear him suggesting the City may need to spend some money to do the traffic surveys and studies to get the hard numbers, and not rely on TransLink’s obviously-loaded numbers.

I think the block we needto watch out for here is that many people think the “Problem” that TransLink is trying to solve is traffic, and therefore the solution all involve moving lanes or bridges or onramps. However, TransLink’s Pattullo Bridge Consultation page is pretty clear: their “Problem” is an aging bridge, not traffic.

But that is the topic of another post.

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