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

Archive for March 2017

Will planting eelgrass help salmon?

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Mouth of the Fraser aerial 2007_0710_105838AA

My aerial photo of the Fraser River Estuary

 

A guest post from Doug Massey

Port of Vancouver looking to plant eelgrass beds at Roberts Bank.                      

So the Port of Vancouver says it will replace the eelgrass beds that they initially destroyed in 1970 when they built a un-bridged causeway over Roberts Bank and a 20 hectare (49 acre) manmade pod. They added another pod in 1983, and again in 2010. This makes it a problem nearly 50 years in the making.

Further; all of this was done over the objections of a Federal Government report in March of 1979, called: “Report of the Environmental Assessment Panel; Roberts Bank Port Expansion” which stated and I quote; “The Panel recommends that approval for the full expansion as proposed not be granted”.

They specifically stated;

“Any proposed expansion go forward that it be tested on a hydraulic model, where currents and wave action can be measured in order to determine a suitable design to avoid excessive erosion of eelgrass beds and other benthic habitat.”

This environmental destruction throughout Port of Vancouver history has been known for decades, but nothing has ever been done.

Worse the report also notes that a large portion (80%) of the salmonid rearing grounds in the Fraser River Estuary has already been alienated and that any further losses should not be allowed.

They concluded also that certain mitigation measures, such as eelgrass transplants, and provision of new habitat, have not been proven to be effective, and cannot be accepted as compensation for existing fisheries habitat.

In 2010, the B.C. Government scientists reported their concerns about ongoing channel erosion between the Tsawwassen Ferry and Roberts Bank Port Terminals and claimed reports were “grossly incomplete” and their cumulative effects were being discounted.

The Roberts Bank Port Expansion together with the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, have virtually destroyed the natural eelgrass beds by physically obstructing the natural flow of water and sediments.

This in turn forced the migrating salmonoids away from the eelgrass shelter area and forced them to be exposed to the natural predatory fish in the Strait of Georgia, thus causing a high mortality rate. This mass destruction of fish stocks has never been investigated or studied by the Department of Fisheries & Oceans.

Now in order to compensate for the loss of the salmonid and crab eelgrass, and marshland resulting from the construction of Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank, the Port of Vancouver in October of 2016, proposed to create 43 hectares of  manmade eelgrass and marshland immediately north of Steveston’s south arm jetty, next to the Sturgeon Banks.

Then on February the 13, 2017 they proposed to plant 4 hectares of eelgrass near the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, in an attempt to recreate the eelgrass that was lost over 50 years ago, when the ferry terminal was built.

How important was this eelgrass system 50 years ago?

Quoting again from the 1979 government report:

“The Fraser River Estuary and associated transitional wetlands comprise of one of the most dynamic and productive ecosystems in Canada. The ecosystem supports a large and diverse community of organisms.

All links of the food chain are present from plankton, benthic invertebrates and estuarine vegetation, through to the complex life forms such as fish, birds and mammals.” 

We must not let these proposals of mitigation by the Port of Vancouver fool us into a false sense of security, by trying replace, or imitate eelgrass that was naturally created by an undisturbed flow of sediment down the mighty Fraser River. Perhaps they should remove the training walls they have installed all along the Lower Fraser River (Trifurcation) and allow the Fraser River to flow in its natural channel and carry and deposit the sediment to its natural destination along the river  and create the marshlands and eelgrass beds at its mouth where it will create the most good.

One cannot overstate the need for a full scale hydraulic model of the Fraser River Watershed be constructed, governed by an independent Agency that would determine what the cumulative affects each and every proposal would have on the  Fraser River Estuary.

In conclusion: If the Port of Vancouver is truly serious about retaining the Fraser River’s Ecosystem they should step back from their proposals to further expand Roberts Bank Port with Terminal 2, and stop advocating for the removal of the George Massey Tunnel and the dredging of the river deeper so they can industrialize the whole of the Lower Fraser River. After half a century, the destruction of the mighty Fraser River has to stop now while there is still something left to save.

Submitted by: Douglas George Massey,  Delta, B.C. 

With the help of  dedicated friends.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 29, 2017 at 12:55 pm

The Future of Mobility

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Hat tip to The Seattle Transit blog who saw a tweet by Andrew gdh to an article on The Verge

Written by Stephen Rees

March 29, 2017 at 11:49 am

Posted in Transportation

Arbutus Greenway North End

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We walked from Valley to Granville Island today. Since I was on foot there are more photos than the last episode.

Arbutus Greenway North End

A woodchip trail has now been laid parallel to the blacktop between King Ed and 16th.

Arbutus Greenway North End

It would appear that some of the neighbours have needed to adapt a STOP sign to something more needful.

Arbutus Greenway North End

The first bike rental station I have seen on the Greenway itself, but I am still not tempted to use them – they are just too pricey. $7 a day – as long as the none of the individual rides is longer than 30 minutes.

Arbutus Greenway North End

The crossing at 12th seems to be utterly contrary to the City’s stated priorities: cyclists are expected to get off and walk their bike down to Arbutus street and back again.

Arbutus Greenway North End

From 10th to Broadway is the only section that has not yet seen any blacktop.

I have not taken any pictures of the crossing of Broadway since there isn’t one. There is also no signage. One group of cyclists we saw were riding in circles trying to see what it was they were supposed to be doing. The answer of course is to walk to the existing crosswalk at Arbutus Street.

Arbutus Greenway North End

There isn’t any official public art on the Greenway yet but this piece seems worthwhile.

Arbutus Greenway North End

This is the City’s poster on the trail – actually almost at the same point where the photo was taken before it was photoshopped to show the chip trail and “divided” blacktop.

Arbutus Greenway North End

It was a nice day today

The crossing of Burrard Street is all in place but just not working yet. Even so, compliance seems admirable. Down at the Fir Street playground things seem to fizzle out. Like the southern end there is no signage but at least the right of way between 5th and 4th has been kept clear of parked cars, unlike the following sections.

Arbutus Greenway North End

Written by Stephen Rees

March 25, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Evidence based policy making

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There was a flurry of commentary yesterday in the wake of the budget. General approval of the huge expansion of funding for more transit services, but griping at the removal of the tax concession to transit passes.

Now we could get into a debate about how the BC Liberals seem prepared to go into the election denying that they have an obligation to match the federal funding that would see the Broadway subway and Surrey LRT built. I would provide a link to Frances Bula’s piece in the Globe and Mail but that site is, of course, paywalled. But post writing the first bit of this I found that Metro has good coverage.

Instead I have decided to post something I picked up yesterday from a tweet. It turns out that there has been research into the impact of the tax treatment of commuter transit passes – and it found that there was no discernible impact on ridership. It was supposed to encourage people to ride transit instead of driving, but didn’t. Public Transit Tax Credit is  a pdf file that carries the title “The Effectiveness and Distributional Effects of the Tax Credit for Public Transit” by Vincent Chandler. Now, I do not know if this research was actually consulted by the government, but I do think that they are right in their conclusion that investment in more and better transit is a better way to spend tax dollars than subsidizing people who are using transit already. It certainly is much more likely to change behaviour in terms of mode choice.

Building a great big bridge over the Fraser is not going to cure traffic congestion. Putting in an extra tube that carries railway trains will. But the BC Liberals think that they will get re-elected if they get the bridge to the point of no return before the election, and refuse to budge from their current position on transit expansion. The contribution from provincial funds is set at one third and that will not be changed no matter what the feds promise. Of course, they do not do very well in polling in places where transit expansion is critical – Vancouver and Victoria. So perhaps this is just the usual appeal to their supporters in the rest of BC.

And now, thanks to Les Lyne of the Courier, I know that the Liberals really are interested in collecting more data to improve decision making. Thanks to facebook I have also come across another blogger with his perceptive take on the Conservatives “boutique tax cuts”.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 23, 2017 at 10:26 am

Posted in Transportation

WPC: It IS Easy Being Green

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via Photo Challenge: It IS Easy Being Green!

Parque Josone, Varadero
Parque Josone in Varadero, Cuba where even the water in the boating lake is green.

 

Written by Stephen Rees

March 22, 2017 at 10:32 am

Arbutus Greenway 2017

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Sunshine – and everyone (it seemed) was out on the greenway this morning. Though the pictures don’t show that.

Newly installed bench

There are to be benches at regular intervals: this is Maple Crescent around 29th Avenue

End of the line

The Greenway ends in one of those no-places – with no connections, or even signs to indicate onward connection. This is Milton Street at Rand Avenue. Note that the Greenway doesn’t appear on Google maps – even as a disused railway.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 1.06.07 PM

Arbutus Greenway

This is the reverse angle looking back up the Greenway. The dashed lines indicate where the blacktop will be removed and replaced by a “landscaped” divider.

The bike ride is great – but will definitely get better as more separation between pedestrians and cyclists is established. Right now people tend to just keep to the right even where signs and paint on the path indicate otherwise. The biggest issue is the street crossings – especially on the busier streets like 41st Avenue and Marine Drive. The old train signals are still place – and what signage there is suggests that cyclists behave like pedestrians. 41st at the Boulevards has long been a vehicle only type of intersection with corrals and blockages to pedestrian desire lines. Much work is long overdue here – and the Greenway is going to increase that pressure.

But even so it was nice to be out on the bikes again – and enjoying the long sections of gravity assistance!

Written by Stephen Rees

March 19, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Atop the clouds

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via Photo Challenge: Atop

Atop the clouds

Heading home from Varadero it was already dark by the time we left the airport, but once we got atop the clouds there was still some afterglow from the sunset. And since the view here is westwards perhaps someone can help with the identification of that star.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 15, 2017 at 1:04 pm