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

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Guest post from Doug Massey

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Massey-Bridge-rendering

 

Reply to article Optimist Jan. 20 2017 “Due diligence done on bridge” The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone makes some statements that need to be answered.

Although the decision has been made to remove the George Massey Tunnel and build a new 10 lane bridge I feel the following information should be shared.

On May 25, 1959 the Deas Tunnel (George Massey Tunnel)as it was known then was opened for traffic. In the first 41 hours 135,000 motorists travelled through the tunnel, this exceeded the tunnel’s rated capacity of 7,000 cars per hour by 300 additional cars. On April 26, 1960 George Massey received a letter from the B.C. Toll Highways and Bridge Authority that stated that 1,000,000 mark in the number of vehicles using the Deas Island Tunnel (GMT) was reached on Oct. 31, 1959. One has to remember that there was no port or ferry terminal at that time.

If the statistics from the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure are correct that in 2015, the Annual Average Daily Traffic was 80,666. which would equal some 3, 361 vehicle per hour, well below the GMT tunnels capacity of 7,000 cars per hour, why then is there a problem at rush hour?

Could it be that Delta Port is the only major port in North America that does not operate 24/7?  The fact that one container  or large transport truck could displace up to 1.5 to 4 cars and subject to the fact that heavy trucks take up more space and are slow to accelerate could result in taking up the space of up to several more cars, perhaps up to 10 cars on the road,as  at least 13 % of the vehicles using the GMT during rush hour are large heavy duty trucks.

One has to ask why then has the B.C. Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure not even considered a modern day policy of banning all heavy duty large trucks during rush hour, and requiring all receiving and delivery points of cargo to be open 24/7 as is required in most cities around the world?

My second point refers to the statement the Minister made that it is a fallacy how anyone could think that they are removing the GMT so that the Fraser River could be dredged deeper to accommodate deeper ships, and that the province was not part of that project, could not be further from the truth. One part is true that they would not be doing the dredging because that is the responsibility of the federal agency, Port Metro Vancouver.

But building a bridge and removing the tunnel would be their preference. and at the urging of industrial interests of the Pacific Gateway Strategy Plan on the Fraser River they chose the bridge.

A representative from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure was present at meeting of the Pacific Gateway Strategy Plan on April 2006 and on Feb. 2. 2012, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure of the B.C. government met to discuss the constraints to increasing the Fraser River channel depth because of the existence of the George Massey Tunnel and recommended the removal of the George Massey Tunnel to achieve their goals. So you see Mr. Minister and the public it was not a fallacy but a conspiracy.

Submitted by: Douglas George Massey

Written by Stephen Rees

January 21, 2017 at 7:19 pm

A Route Planner to Facilitate and Promote Cycling in Metro Vancouver

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Now isn’t that a title to stir your heart?

As I am sure most of you know, while I am a cyclist – sometimes – I am a fairly cautious one. That is because I am a fat old man with a dicky ticker. Where I live there are steep hills in three of the four cardinal compass points. We live in a bowl – and Valley Drive is the only flat way out. It is uphill from here to Kerrisdale or Shaughnessy and even Kits requires tackling a short but killer grind up Nanton to the new Greenway. So the idea of a tool that takes topography into account as one of the keys to route choice had an instant appeal to me.

I came across it due to a new twitter account called Vancouver Studies run by my old friend Raul Pacheco-Vega. “This account tweets scholarly studies about the city of Vancouver (BC, Canada).”

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So that link took me to the academic publisher Elsevier who, of course, charge an arm and a leg to read research articles – but at least the Abstract provided a link to the program itself. I thought.

With increasing fuel costs, greater awareness of greenhouse gas emissions and increasing obesity levels, cycling is promoted as a health promoting and sustainable transport mode. We developed a cycling route planner (http://cyclevancouver.ubc.ca) for Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to facilitate cycling amongst the general public and to facilitate new route location by transportation planners. The geographical information system-based planner incorporates variables that influence choices to travel by bicycle (e.g., distance, elevation gain, safety, route features, air pollution and links to transit) in selecting the preferred routing. Using a familiar and user-friendly Google Maps interface, the planner allows individuals to seek optimized cycling routes throughout the region based on their own preferences. In addition to the incorporation of multiple user preferences in route selection, the planner is unique amongst cycling route planners in its use of topology to minimize data storage redundancy, its reliance on node/vertex index tables to increase efficiency of the route selection process, and the use of web services and asynchronous technologies for quick data delivery. Use of this tool can help promote bicycle travel as a form of active transportation and help lower greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and air pollutant emissions by reducing car trips.

I have disabled the link in the quote because that site no longer responds. But Topophilo will give you both the sad story of why this useful tool is no longer available and what else is around to help you.

Cycle Vancouver Is Now Offline

October 31st, 2014

CycleVancouver, Metro Vancouver’s cycling trip planner, has been taken offline because it is no longer receiving funding to be maintained and hosted.

Other useful resources that may be helpful in planning your route are:

and then it also says

The original Cycle Vancouver code has been posted to GitHub for reference.

Which might be good news if we can come up with a rescue plan. Doesn’t this seem to be a Good Idea for crowdfunding? Or maybe support from the City – or even Metro? Isn’t Translink supposed to be into this alternative mode stuff too?

Of course being dead for three years may mean all of this has been tried before – but now the Mayors have come up with some funding for Translink, and even the feds seem interested in less carbon intensive ways of getting around (which wasn’t the case back in 2014) shouldn’t we be trying to resuscitate the patient?

UPDATE Sunday January 8

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and because that link won’t work in an image

 

Written by Stephen Rees

January 7, 2017 at 7:21 pm

WPC Names: Pullman

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via Photo Challenge: Names

NRM York: Pullman 5669

Pullman is a brand name that once exercised considerable power. In the application used in the photo it was used by Britain’s nationalised railway to indicate the highest standard of luxury. Trains carrying this brand had better quality seating, more space per passenger and at seat service for refreshments and full meals, with high quality china and silverware. The now privatised railway companies tend not to emulate this type of service, and stress their own brand names. There are also many companies across the world that now operate trains that are equivalent to cruise ships, not really so much about transportation as providing a luxury experience for a very limited high end market. In Britain, Pullman trains ran on regular schedules and charged a premium fare but were still affordable. For instance, even a student I was able to take the Bristol Pullman from London to go visit friends we had met on holiday. I can still remember the huge toasted tea cakes served warm by friendly waiters.

Pullman started in the United States in the early days or railways which initially were known for their spartan accommodations, even for very long distance trips.  Initially Pullman cars were added to existing trains – and this method was also continued by British Railways – although they were not in the Sleeping Car business there. Indeed in Europe that became the speciality of CIWL –  who operated trains like the Orient Express.

In Britain it was also possible to find the Pullman car by its livery – dark chocolate and cream. This changed with the introduction of the Blue Pullmans, which marked a distinct change in style and design. Traditionally blue was not favoured for most railway applications as it was a colour known to fade readily, but improved paint technology meant that the colour could be used economically, and as an indication of modernity and difference from past practice. There were also blue locomotives and passenger trains for electrification schemes, and blue was then adopted for all BR trains when the brands BritishRail and InterCity were adopted as part of the modernisation scheme.

After these trains were withdrawn in the early 1970s, BR stopped using Pullman as a brand altogether.

Original challenge

Written by Stephen Rees

January 6, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Posted in photography, Transportation

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North Shore bridges at ‘tipping point’

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Second Narrows Bridges

Second Narrows Bridge

Fraser Voices picked up on a Vancouver Sun story today: their concern, of course, was the bridge replacement for the Massey Tunnel will have exactly the same effect

Traffic is bad all over Metro Vancouver, but the worst spot to emerge in the last several years is the bridgehead at the Second Narrows in North Vancouver.

Municipal leaders were told in 2015 that the North Shore’s woes coincided precisely with the expansion of the Port Mann Bridge to 10 lanes in 2012.

Well municipal leaders have been told, many times,  that the region was headed for worsening traffic and congestion problems for much longer than that. In fact I have the feeling that I have written this blog post many times now.

I was employed on the issue between 1997 and 2004. Back then, when we were sent across to the North Shore to listen to their complaints about transit – and ideas like a third crossing or a SkyTrain extension in a submerged tube to Lonsdale Quay and then up Lonsdale in tunnel – we said that the North Shore was not part of the Growth Concentration Area (GCA), and that since population was therefore not expected to grow there in large amounts, there were other areas where increasing transit supply was a higher priority. The GCA was part of the Livable Region Strategic Plan (LRSP) – and its transportation counterpart, Transport 2021. That said that we were going to build a compact urban region of complete communities that would protect the green zone and increase transportation choice.

We didn’t stick to that plan. The province of BC did sign on to it, but then steadily undermined it. And the LRSP eventually gave way to the present Regional Growth Strategy. The other neighbouring regional plans, designed to prevent them becoming exurbs of Greater Vancouver, were also largely ignored. The freeway widenings and new bridges were the recipients of huge sums from the province, and were never subject to a referendum. Bridge tolls were unpopular – and explain why the Port Mann line in this chart goes down while the Alex Fraser goes up.

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Given the investments made in widening Highway #1, “improving” the Sea to Sky, building the South Fraser Perimeter Road and the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges, it is hardly surprising that most development in the impacted areas has been car oriented. Transit developments have been concentrated in the part of the region that already had pretty good transit service. Transit Oriented Development – like that in Port Moody – either didn’t happen or was ineffective due to the lack of workable transit choices. The West Coast Express, being limited to weekday only peak hour direction only, just benefitted a those commuting to downtown Vancouver – the one area where employment growth had been sacrificed to condo development.

In fact the Vancouver Sun article doesn’t talk about transit at all, except for one mention about bus routes needing to catch up. But there always were options that could have been chosen, if the LRSP was to work as intended. The Millennium Line need not have been quite so useless: it could have been the full T line anticipated in Transport 2021 – UBC to Coquitlam with a branch to New Westminster. It would have had to be surface LRT, as originally intended to be built for the same price. SkyTrain could have been extended in Surrey. Passenger rail service could have been retained (and enhanced) to Squamish, Whistler and beyond and some better use made of the former BCER right of way to Chilliwack. LRT was entirely possible on routes like the Arbutus Corridor, with connections to the airport, and along the Riverside development area where CP has a somewhat redundant freight line along Kent Avenue all the way out to New Westminster and the TriCities. Sharing tracks between freight and LRT is entirely feasible as demonstrated by the Ottawa O train.

Otrain approaching Bayview 2006_0608

Translink might well have introduced its now highly successful #555 from Braid to Langley much sooner by the simple device (used for Delta and South Surrey express buses on Highway 99) of converting the hard shoulders of Highway 1 to exclusive bus lanes. There was no need for all those lanes on the Port Mann bridge – which is now carrying less traffic – as the congestion was only on the approaches. A bus across the bridge connecting the city centres of Surrey and Coquitlam would still provide much more convenient and direct service than SkyTrain does now.

The present BC Liberal administration has shown that it does not support increasing transportation choice. It shows that it is stuck in the 1950s mindset of continually increasing highway capacity, which never ever satisfies demand for very long, and always provides more opportunities for more expansion plans. And that suits the corporations and the property developers who keep on doing what they have always done – which includes large donations to the political party that made it so profitable. Not livable. Not affordable. Not sustainable.

Traffic congestion cannot be solved by increasing road capacity. Mobility and accessibility can be increased by providing more and better options as well as better land use planning. The two are inextricable. More single family homes on large lots with multiple car garages remote from everything, except a local school and park, is a recipe for continuing worsening of our environment. We have known this for a very long time indeed. What is very odd indeed is that people come here to look at downtown Vancouver and think we have achieved something remarkable when in fact the rest of the region is as bad or worse than most North American suburbs.  As Karen Quin Fung remarked on Twitter “We’re far from securing quality of life enjoyed now in CoV, for rest of Metro Van”

And building another massive bridge between Richmond and Delta will not change that.

The problems on the North Shore won’t be solved by upgrading interchanges either. And a Third Crossing doesn’t seem any more likely than in the last thirty years. Maybe the Mayor’s Plan to expand transit will help, but, as the North Shore Mayors recently acknowledged, there is not a lot in there for their area.

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Looks like they are going to need a lot more transit!

Written by Stephen Rees

December 16, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Tar Sands Tankers in U.S. Waters

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While I was polishing up last night’s post on Marc Garneau’s incredible claims about how safe we will be once the tankers moving diluted bitumen start moving, the following arrived in my in box.

As I am sure you are all aware, there are very few refineries set up to deal with diluted bitumen – or even heavy oil – and none at all in China. While the pipeline proponents blether about finding new markets for the tarsands, the reality is that dilbit will go to where they can refine it.screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-10-57-12-am

Picture from The Common Sense Canadian

And once again in the interests of getting information out there – since the CBC story about the tankers did not once mention dilbit – here is the entire press release:


 

NRDC Report: Tar Sands Tankers in U.S. Waters Could Skyrocket 12-Fold Under Canadian Producers’ Plans

A flood of dirty oil and possible damaging spills in the Atlantic, Pacific and Mississippi River threatens iconic species, tourism and communities; also would increase climate pollution double Keystone XL’s

WASHINGTON (December 7, 2016) – Canadian oil producers have roared back from President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline with a scheme to send hundreds of tar sands-laden oil tankers and barges down the East and West coasts and the Mississippi River, the Natural Resources Defense Council warned in a report released today.

Under their plans, tar sands tankers and barges traveling U.S. waterways could skyrocket from fewer than 80 to more than 1,000 a year—dramatically increasing the chance of devastating spills.

That, according to the report, would put the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, including the Salish Sea, San Francisco Bay, the Gulf of Maine, the Hudson and Columbia rivers, the Chesapeake Bay and the Florida Keys, at risk for costly spills for which there is no known effective cleanup technology. In addition, as many as 130 tar sands barges per year could travel on the Mississippi River, which today sees almost no such traffic.

The potential for destructive tar sands spills endangers hundreds of inland and coastal communities. And it puts at risk multibillion tourism and fishing industries, along with protected ocean preserves and abundant marine life; including whales, dolphins and unique deep-sea creatures.

“Canadian oil producers have a scheme to flood us with dangerous tar sands oil. Their hopes to send hundreds of millions of barrels of tar sands oil into U.S. waters are truly alarming. We can’t let them endanger American livelihoods, our most iconic and threatened species, or our beautiful wild places with these irresponsible plans,” said Joshua Axelrod, lead author of NRDC’s report.

“The risks and costs created by possible tar sands spills are so substantial that local, state and federal governments should take immediate action,” added Axelrod, policy analyst for NRDC’s Canada Project. “Protecting the public, communities and the environment from a plague of dangerous tar sands oil on U.S. waterways should be their top priority.”

If all that wasn’t bad enough, the climate impact of the planned tar sands development would be severe. Expanded production would destroy a large swath of Canada’s boreal forest—a carbon storehouse that helps to mitigate climate change. And burning all the tar sands oil that the industry seeks to develop would add 362 million metric tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere each year—twice as much as Keystone XL’s tar sands would have contributed.

NRDC released the report, “The Tar Sands Tanker Threat: American Waterways in Industry’s Sights,” in a telephone-based press conference. Joining Axelrod for the event was: Stephanie Buffum, executive director at Friends of the San Juans; Michael Riordan, physicist and resident of Orcas Island; and Jewell James, a Lummi Nation representative and fisherman on the Salish Sea.

It outlines plans by Canadian producers to excavate tar sands oil from forests in northern Alberta and use four new pipeline and rail operations—and existing infrastructure on the Mississippi River—to move tar sands oil by tanker and barge down the coasts and on the Columbia, Hudson, and Mississippi rivers to reach heavy oil refinery operations in the Mid-Atlantic, Gulf coast and California.

Canadian producers are pressing ahead with these expansion plans, despite climate realities and findings like those in a 2016 report by the National Academy of Sciences that tar sands crude has unique physical properties leading to extreme clean-up challenges, including missing tools and technology that could clean the heavy, toxic oil in the event of a spill.

It’s notable that six years after a tar sands pipeline spill fouled Michigan’s Kalamazoo River and created a billion-dollar cleanup effort, the river is still contaminated.

The tar sands threat outlined in NRDC’s report isn’t theoretical. Just recently, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion, which would increase oil tanker traffic by 600 percent in the already-congested Salish Sea between Washington state and British Columbia.

If the pipeline is built, much of this traffic is expected to move south along the U.S. west coast to California heavy-oil refineries. Scientists contend the project is a death sentence for the region’s beloved Killer Whale population.

“The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, just approved by Canada’s Prime Minister, would significantly increase tar sands tanker traffic and oil spill risk in the Salish Sea,” said Lovell Pratt, an expert in marine vessels and resident of San Juan Island. “According to a vessel traffic analysis, the project would cause an 800% increase in the risk of a major tar sands oil spill over the next ten years in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass—the critical habitat of the region’s highly endangered orca whales.”

NRDC recommends that in light of the tar sands threat:

* State and federal governments should reject vessel response plans for ships transporting tar sands oil because there’s no effective cleanup technology available for handling tar sands spills.
* Local, state and federal governments should take steps to evaluate legal, policy and research priorities to deal with potential tar sands oil spills and their impact on the environment.
* Policymakers in the U.S. and Canada should examine whether tar sands crude can be safely shipped on our rivers and oceans, and how enabling further development of carbon-intensive tar sands oil threatens the climate.

More information about the tar sands tanker and barge threat report is here: https://www.nrdc.org/resources/tar-sands-tanker-threat-american-waterways-industrys-sights

A blog on the issue by Josh Axelrod is here: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/josh-axelrod/new-report-tar-sands-industry-targets-americas-waterways

More about NRDC’s work related to fossil fuels is here: https://www.nrdc.org/issues/reduce-fossil-fuels

An audio recording of the press conference on the tar sands tanker and barge threat will be here: http://www.hastingsgroupmedia.com/NRDC/TarSandsTankerReport.mp3

Earlier this year NRDC released another report “Tar Sands in the Atlantic Ocean: TransCanada’s Proposed Energy East Pipeline,” focusing on TransCanada’s plans for the Energy East pipeline that would dramatically increase tanker traffic along the East Coast. That report is here:  https://www.nrdc.org/resources/tar-sands-atlantic-ocean-transcanadas-proposed-energy-east-pipeline

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 7, 2016 at 11:01 am

“Increased B.C. tanker traffic will be safe”

with one comment

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This is the claim by Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau, which is examined in a CBC documentary. There is no commenting permitted under the article on the web page.

So I posted this to facebook instead

I read the article, I listened carefully to the video report. There were many references to “products” “diesel” and even “Alberta oil”. But what will be coming down the pipeline and will be shipped on the tankers – and transhipped to super tankers somewhere offshore – is diluted bitumen. And that is not a “product”. It is not even crude oil. It is heavy tar mixed with sand that has had about a quarter of its volume added with natural gas liquids. Diluted bitumen. In a spill the diluent evaporates, and tar sand sinks. It has been years since the Kalamazoo river spill – and that is far from clean. No one in this documentary talks about dilbit.

And dilbit sinks. It is not recoverable and pollutes for a long time. And we need answers that are appropriate to the problem. Talking about diesel – or even bunker C, the guck that spilled in our harbour recently from a bulk grain carrier – is not relevant. The risks of a dilbit spill have not been presented or assessed in this report. How can they say it will be safe?

And just in case you think that because dilbit sinks it won’t be an issue, let me remind you of this

Not enough is known about the impact oilsands bitumen could have on ocean plants and animals to assess the risks of moving it through marine environments, according to a new study.

“Basic information is lacking or unavailable for several key sources of stress and disturbance, making it impossible to carry out a complete risk assessment,” said the paper, which draws its conclusion from an examination of more than 9,000 papers on oil and the environment.

The paper has been peer reviewed and will be published next month in the journal Frontiers in the Ecology and Environment. Although it has been shared with the federal government, it has not been publicly released.

That was in the Vancouver Sun on November 30

I did write to the West Coast Marine Response Corporation, and this is what I got back

We did discuss diluted bitumen with the CBC, but that portion of the interview was not included in their final edit.

The body in Canada that is responsible for looking into the fate and behaviour of hydrocarbons in the ocean is Environment Canada. They published a report in 2013 on the topic, which you can read here: https://www.ec.gc.ca/scitech/6A2D63E5-4137-440B-8BB3-E38ECED9B02F/1633_Dilbit%20Technical%20Report_e_v2%20FINAL-s.pdf

For WCMRC comments on diluted bitumen, I would refer you to our submission to the TMX panel, you can read that document here: http://wcmrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/TMX-Ministerial-Panel-WCMRC-Presentation-August-16-2016.pdf

I have just started reading the first of those reports, and was surprised to read

A diluted bitumen blend spill occurred in 2007 from a pipeline operated by Kinder Morgan into Burrard Inlet, Burnaby, B.C. (TSB, 2007). The product spilled was Albian Heavy, a blend of synthetic crude oil and heavier oil sands product. Approximately 224 cubic metres of oil were released, with 210 cubic metres being recovered (TSB, 2007). Oil escaped under pressure from a pipeline rupture. Spilled oil migrated through the sewer system into Burrard Inlet where it began to spread on the water. Approximately 15 000 m of shoreline were affected by the spill.

An assessment of the spill clean-up and environmental impacts was commissioned by Kinder Morgan five years after the spill (Stantec Consulting Ltd., 2012b). The report of that assessment indicated that spill response operations were effective at removing oil from the environment and in limiting the short- and long-term effects of the spill. Oil was recovered by skimming and booming, as well as by flushing and removal from the affected shorelines.

Though shoreline intertidal zones were oiled, most marine sediments had only a small increase in measured PAH concentrations, with 20 of 78 monitored sites exceeding water quality guidelines (Stantec Consulting Ltd., 2012b). Levels of extractable hydrocarbons and PAHs for surface water quality requirements were met in 2007. Subtidal marine sediments were monitored through 2011, with most samples having levels of PAHs below the water quality requirements. Those subtidal sediment samples that did exceed the maximum regulated PAH levels appeared to be caused by sources other than the spill. Based on these observations, only trace amounts or less of oil from the 2007 spill appear to have remained in the marine harbour sediments.

and from the conclusions

This work demonstrates that, in waters where fine- to moderate-sized sediment is present, these oils are at risk to sink, when there is a high degree of mixing energy available. However, the effects of different mixing regimes, including current flow, on oil-sediment interactions have not been examined in the present work. Comparisons to meso-scale testing in lower mixing energies by other researchers have revealed some differences between, for example, water-uptake by oils. Testing in the wave tank described in Chapter 5, moderate mixing of the oil-sediment aggregates, resulted in a suspension of the materials. Available mixing energy factors seem to have an influence on the fate of the formed oil-sediment aggregates. While the present work illustrates some of the forms that these oils may possibly adopt following a spill, more work is needed to understand the mechanisms and rates of formation of these states, and to understand the factors that govern the transitions between these fates. [emphasis added]

Written by Stephen Rees

December 6, 2016 at 9:27 pm

Granville Island 2040: Phase 3

with 4 comments

I went to the “Open House” on the Granville Island 2040 plan this afternoon. This was not an open house format in any sense I would use. There were three longish identical presentations during the day with an opportunity to ask questions or make comments at the end of each. A few display boards were in the Revue Stage Lobby – so this one was the leftmost of the icons in the image above “Draft Directions”. Apart from these boards, there were no materials being distributed nor is there very much on the Granville Island web page. It may be that the presentation may be made available there later as there was a tv camera pointed at the presenters. I did not stay for the comments and questions.

The theatre was by no means full: I estimate around 70 people were present and I do not include staff or presenters in that number.

The presentation was made by Darryl Condon of the architecture company HMCA retained by CMHC. While there were several others at the two top tables, on the stage, facing the audience none of them gave formal presentations but were available to answer the comments and questions.

I am not going to simply report all of what the presentation covered as I expect that the draft plan will be available in due course. The vision of that plan will include the idea that GI is a “zone of public possibility” which will acknowledge both its history and the collective creative potential of its users. The principles governing the development include

  • public good has priority over market forces
  • an increase in diversity of users
  • social and environmental resilience
  • a place to learn and be challenged

There are others too.

Among the ten key goals are #6. Pop up culture (currently the Island’s offerings are very static) #7. Reduce the dominance of private cars

Strategies

As you might expect I was most interested in what is being termed CarLite. Access is a critical issue, and reducing car use depends on increasing the availability of alternatives. Currently 1/4 of the Island is roadway or parking. There are 980 parking spaces on east side and 300 on the west (Granville Bridge being the middle). There is a declining use of cars to get to GI (increases in walking, cycling and use of ferries were reported in an earlier post) The aim is to make the west side car free, while maintaining access for deliveries, people with disabilities and drop off and pick up of passengers. This is expected to produce more vitality and activity. Many places have already made significant progress in prioritizing pedestrians e.g. The Rocks, Sydney; DUMBO and Times Square, New York. It is also intended to increase the amount of nighttime activity following the examples of Amsterdam (which has a Night Mayor) and Brixton which has a Night Market.

I want to intervene here to point out that despite the commitment to increasing inclusiveness, there was no mention of the very successful Richmond Night Markets.

It was also noted that the present arrangements allow little access to the water, and a number of suggestions were offered as to how to increase this including sales from boats or places to “dip your toes in” False Creek. The Public Market will be expanded to be more than a building: it will become a precinct with open air stalls, food trucks and the like. There is also a commitment to make greater use of the many “in between spaces”. With the reduction of car park spaces, there will be a greater opportunity of large flexible spaces and mixed use.

The two most important pieces from my perspective were what is now being called Alder Bay Bridge

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The display map in the lobby was nothing like the present proposal, which is now designed as both a curve, landing further north west and not crossing at the narrowest point. This will allow for use by pedestrians and cyclists, protect the “sanctity of the green space” and link to an enhanced path along the northern edge of the island.  Examples of curved bridges as art pieces with sculptural quality were shown but not identified.

Frank Ducote photo

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Frank Ducote photo

Two alternatives were shown for an elevator connection to Granville Bridge. The bridge now carries 6 bus routes, with an effective average 2 minute wait time for a bus between GI and downtown, but getting to GI now is actually not that easy. So an elevator to midspan bus stops makes obvious sense. What makes much less sense is the City proposal of a median “greenway” on the bridge. Any pedestrian would, I think, prefer a view of the water and the scenery rather than of lots of traffic. (One idea I have seen that was not shown is a walking deck beneath the car deck.) An elevator to a median bus stop would require structural alterations to the bridge. So if there were two elevators, one for each direction of bus service, they could be built outboard of the structure. They might even be temporary initially as a proof of concept, but more elaborately could include a wider sidewalk and bumpout bus stops – again my thoughts not what was shown.
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This was also in the lobby but not mentioned in the presentation.

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This survey was for people who had attended the presentations, and will not be on line for long. But CMHC is encouraging further input

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Thanks to Frank Ducote for the pictures taken of the presentation

Written by Stephen Rees

December 3, 2016 at 6:08 pm