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Southwest Area Transport Plan

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Translink bus in Steveston

Translink bus in Steveston

I had a call today from Graeme Wood who writes for the Richmond News. He wanted to talk about Translink’s Southwest Area Transport Plan. He wanted me to predict what sort of changes people in Richmond might want to see in the transport system in the future. I’m afraid I wasn’t very helpful as it does not seem to me to be very important. First of all because the way to plan for a future system is to do some really good data collection on how they travel right now, and why, and then come up with some realistic proposals on how that could change based on what we know about things like population growth, land use plans and technology changes. Just asking people what they might like is a bit pointless. Secondly holding open houses and inviting people to fill in a web based survey form means you only get the opinions of a self selected (i.e. unrepresentative) group.

But it’s worse than that here now – and here is where I went off on a rant which I somehow doubt will appear in his newspaper, but you never know. They might be desperate to fill the space.

Here’s what the Translink web page has to say

In June 2014 the Mayors’ Council developed the Transportation and Transit Plan which identified investment priorities across the Metro Vancouver region. These priorities identified the need for types of services, but not the specific routes or specific areas that would benefit. An Area Transport Plan will establish a blueprint for the unique transit and transportation needs of the Southwest sub-region. Once funding is available, we will have a solid foundation for implementing the priorities that meet the needs of the community now and in the future.

I have added the emphasis: if you think funding is going to be available, and you live in Delta or Richmond, then you might like to wander along to one of their open houses or fill in the survey. Don’t let me stop you, or the thought that it is very unlikely indeed that much is going to change any time soon. Unless the stupid bridge actually gets built, in which case, forget it and buy a car. And if that is not a practical choice for you then you might have to take Jean Chretien’s advice and consider moving.

There is no funding for more and better transit or very much for walking and cycling – which anyway gets decided by the municipality not Translink. And, given the present ineptitude of our provincial government, that is not going to change any time soon. I think the two immediate, pressing needs for transit would be to restore the annual pass for people with disabilities and – having taken handyDART back in house – make a considerable investment in making door to door trips for people who cannot drive or use conventional transit a daily possibility rather than a very rare treat. The way that a society treats its most vulnerable citizens tells you a lot about what sort of society we are and want to be. The way this segment of our population has been treated in this province is a disgrace. And that has been true for at least the last twenty years to my certain knowledge and actually much longer than that. I think that if there are to be more funds available that ought to be the first priority simply as a matter of social justice. Even Hillary Clinton has recognized that transportation is a civil rights issue.

Whatever detail Translink puts on top of its 2014 Plan matters naught, if it cannot get any more funds to match the needs for an increase in its operations and maintenance budget – let alone the very desirable and lengthy list of transit improvements listed in that plan. The Mayors identified very real problems in the present funding model, not the least of which is the decline in revenues from the gas tax and the pressures of population growth. Of course we are in a stare down over the potential for increases in property tax: don’t expect that to end either.

Already Kirk LaPointe has decided that the Broadway Subway is not going to happen.

Our viability and livability depend on better public transit – not in a decade, but today, because we have waited a decade. Trouble is, the line has taken only one teensy step forward and some significant steps back since it was identified as one of several core projects in the Mayors’ Council report on transportation in 2014.

Yup, he got that right. Oddly he also seems to think that streetcars might be the solution as though they could be implemented faster than the subway. Actually any transit solution is going to be very expensive, very unpopular with at least one loud and influential segment of the population  and will take far too long to implement to satisfy the existing users of the 99 B Line. It is about as likely as the Massey Bridge – or the Port Mann – will see LRT running across it in my lifetime: or along the Arbutus Corridor come to that. While the province always likes to say that their new bridges could carry more transit in the future, that is simply the old “jam tomorrow, never jam today” promise.  There has never been a real intention to implement those plans.

People in Richmond or Delta who go to these open houses and outline the sorts of improvements they would like to see in the bus routes of their area are simply demonstrating the triumph of hope over experience. Good luck with that, folks. Let me know how that works out for you.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 13, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Enough with provincial misinformation

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Transportation Minister Todd Stone did a presentation recently to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. The government then put out the following Fact Sheet

Fact-Sheet-Massey-Replacement-Myths-Mar-2016

I must admit that when I read it I became almost incoherent with rage. I think Myth #3 is the one that really did it for me. But then I have written more often about induced traffic more than any other topic I think. Seems that way to me. But fortunately I have found a fresh voice on these issues.

I am not going to take credit for the following letter to the editor which has been submitted by N. Herman of Richmond. He has generously allowed me to publish it here in case the mainstream media decide to ignore it.

No one disagrees that the Massey Tunnel is a traffic bottleneck. In many respects however, choosing the right solution can be a “life or death” proposition.

To replace the Massey Tunnel with a bridge has been a questionable proposition recently, and in fact (not a “myth”), it contradicts the same provincial governments own previous, public decision to add another tunnel. And make no mistake, the bridge is huge, in fact (not a “myth”), it will be the biggest bridge of its kind in North America. Think you are going to enjoy a quiet summer BBQ in the backyard ? How about a quiet night’s sleep? Aside from diesel particulate and other pollution blown down on your property, the din of bridge traffic noise, elevated above the river, may be heard miles into Richmond and Delta, and it will be relentless, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Stability of the bridge? It will be built in an area that is proven to have the highest risk of liquefaction during an earthquake. Think the “Fast Ferries” were a disaster? This liquefaction risk alone could turn $3.5 billion into worthless rubble in minutes. Has the provincial government completed its soil analysis ? Of course not, but its already spending your hard earned taxpayer money installing pilings.

We should also be clear that the real purpose of the bridge is to allow massive ocean going freighters to ship carbon based fuels on the Fraser River, which they cannot get access to now because of the tunnel. And contrary to Minister Stone, it is not a “myth” that the Port of Metro Vancouver repeatedly petitioned the provincial government to raise the bridge for this purpose. And what of those fuels? First we have LNG. Not a “myth” as claimed by Minister Stone, did you know that placing an LNG plant so close to a populated area is actually illegal in the United States due to EPA safety rules? If any LNG is spilled on the Fraser, the explosion radius can be measured in miles. If the USA has made it illegal, and it is against international industry regulations, why is the provincial government putting your life and the lives of your loved ones at risk?

And what about coal? Well as it turns out, it’s not even Canadian coal. The coal will be shipped from Wyoming in the United States. Again ask yourself “why” when Seattle and Portland both have good ports. Again, the answer is simple. Coal dust is carcinogenic: coal trans-shipment is banned in both those states. It’s not a “myth” that Premier Clark and Transportation Minister Stone seem to think its “a-ok” to put your life at risk doing something that is so dangerous, that it’s illegal in the USA. It currently appears that the Port further intents to pave over 2,500 acres of the Gilmore Farm right beside Steveston Highway in Richmond. So much for healthy local food.

[moderator: the location and size of the Gilmore Farm is the subject of some questions on another forum where Harold Steves clarifies: “The Gilmore Farm in East Richmond was bought by the port for port expansion. It is about 218 acres not 2,500. The Gilmore Estates is 324 acres south of Steveston Highway and has nothing to do with the port. Port Metro Vancouver wants 2,500 acres for port expansion and the Gilmore Farm is part of it.” ]

Then we have an expanded “jet fuel” tanker farm near the #6 Road entertainment complex, serviced by barges. So let’s ask ourselves what pervasive reason exists to use barges instead of just pumping the fuel from the Cherry Point refinery in Washington State? Again, it is a task of looking behind the real “myth” perpetrated by the provincial government. The moment fuel enters a pipe at the refinery, it must be paid for. When shipped by barges, it is not paid for until off-loaded. This allows the Airport consortium to therefore play the commodities market on fuel, which can amount to millions of dollars of profit a year. With no on-site personnel, and no dedicated fire station, how long do you think it will take for a disaster such as a massive firestorm to occur while they profit from playing the markets? Again, call your Liberal MLA and ask them why they think that’s ”a-ok” for the government to put our lives at risk.

The fact, not a “myth” is that Premier Clark, Transportation Minister Stone and the Port of Metro Vancouver have all flown to Ottawa to advocate for a project that according to a recent FOI request has zero documentation for a business case. Perhaps it was “triple deleted” or “verbal only”? Whatever happened to the provincial government’s pledge of honest disclosure and transparency? If a bridge is such a good idea, where is the report? Where is the independent environmental review”, and why should that even be an issue to them, if the idea is so good? The Mayors Council is demanding that the provincial government “come clean”, and stop this cynical illusion of public consultation that ridicules the publics intelligence with publicity stunts like the ” Debunking the Myths ” presentation that Minister Todd Stone tried to sell last week. Two pre- vetted “questions” were asked at the end of his presentation, and then he disappears faster than a magician.

People are “fed-up” of the government playing fast and loose with the truth. As the Transit Tax referendum results demonstrated, people are “done” with wasted tax dollars spent on pet projects to feed a political ego. The public is also “done” with false statements made regarding a bridge proposal with purported “massive public support” when investigative reporter Vaughn Palmer discovers that of 1,000 “consultations” only 140 were in support. This is as troubling as the Richmond Chamber of Commerce claiming “a majority of Richmond businesses support the bridge option” when they do not represent all businesses in Richmond, and another investigation reveals that in fact (not “myth”) over 80% of their members never even voted on the survey. Does every Mayor in the province realize that their own city’s budget for infrastructure has been slashed by 1/3 by the provincial government in order to build this one bridge? If not, they should be writing the Premier.

It is time to revisit the previous transit plan that Minister Kevin Falcon had developed that built a solid business case for an additional tunnel, and admit that a bridge has never been the best solution to relieve Massey tunnel traffic congestion. An expanded tunnel would economically, and with minimal environmental impact, allow for better traffic movement and an expanded rapid transit corridor.

The Province needs to listen and learn from the Metro Vancouver governments who are strongly united in their opposition to a bridge for good reason, and learn from them how best to create a transit corridor that will move us forward in a modern and effective way. The only real “myth” right now is the provincial government has been transparent and open. Enough of the Todd Stone flim-flam, and waste of our hard earned tax dollars.

Enough with unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats destroying the world heritage Fraser River with dangerous, life threatening over-industrialization that is illegal in other parts of North America. its time for citizens to take control of this foolishness before living in Richmond or Delta becomes a “life and death” situation.

Postscript : New Westminster Councillor Patrick Johnstone has now published a comprehensive debunking of the Ten Myths “Fact Sheet” on his blog – which in itself is well worth following

Written by Stephen Rees

April 10, 2016 at 11:16 am

Metro Vancouver calls for a Federal Environmental Assessment of the Massey Tunnel Replacement Project

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The following is the text of the letter approved by the Metro Vancouver Board today

Planning, Policy and Environment

Tel. 604.432.6350 Fax 604.432‐6296

File: CR‐07‐02‐ENV

The Honourable Catherine McKenna

Minister of Environment and Climate Change
200 Sacré‐Coeur Boulevard
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3

Dear Minister:

Re: Request for a Federal Environmental Assessment of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (‘Metro Vancouver’), I am writing to advise that at its April 1, 2016 regular meeting, the Board adopted the following resolution:

That the GVRD Board send a letter to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change requesting that the Minister, pursuant to section 14(2) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, order a federal environmental assessment of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.

Metro Vancouver is the regional government for the southwest region of British Columbia and is comprised of 21 municipalities, 1 electoral area, and 1 Treaty First Nation. We provide regional planning, regional utilities (including liquid waste, solid waste, and drinking water), and political leadership to a total population base of approximately 2.4 million in the greater Vancouver area.

Given our broad responsibilities in delivering regional services and in protecting the ongoing livability of this region, our Board is requesting a federal environmental assessment of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project. We are requesting that a federal environmental assessment be referred to a review panel on which Metro Vancouver and other key stakeholder groups would have an
opportunity to participate.

Federal Environmental Assessment Review Request

Metro Vancouver’s specific concerns with respect to the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project are related to our legislative responsibilities in the areas of regional growth management and planning, air quality and climate change, environment, regional parks, and regional utilities.

The Province of British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s proposal to replace the existing George Massey tunnel with a 10‐lane tolled bridge has the potential to cause significant adverse environmental effects. Potential impacts include:

1. Changes to Regional Transportation Patterns which Affect Regional Growth Management.

Although two lanes of the 10‐lane tolled bridge are to be dedicated transit/HOV lanes, the project as a whole represents a major ($3.5 billion) expansion of car‐oriented infrastructure.

If implemented, it will create growth pressures that may impede the realization of Metro 2040: Shaping our Future, the regional growth strategy, which promotes compact, transit oriented development patterns, the efficient use of land, and an efficient transportation network.

The potential impacts of this project on surrounding agricultural land, which the regional growth strategy strives to protect, and the potential to shift traffic congestion to adjacent communities, are of particular concern.

Transportation decisions and future land use are inextricably linked and have direct and far reaching effects on the environment. These decisions will influence, if not determine, whether human settlement patterns are compact or sprawling. A project of this magnitude requires an understanding of its impacts on future growth in the region to determine its potential to cause significant adverse environmental effects.

2. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change

Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking action on climate change. Metro 2040: Shaping our Future, the regional growth strategy, encourages land use and transportation infrastructure that reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and improve air quality. It contains strategies to help Metro Vancouver and member municipalities prepare for, and mitigate risks from, climate change. In addition, municipal official community plans include provincially mandated greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Project Definition Report for the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project anticipates lower idling‐related greenhouse gas emissions, but contains no information related to the potential greenhouse gas emissions that will result from the project as a whole, which may be significant. The Project Definition Report omits any mention of climate change.

Through the Province of British Columbia’s environmental assessment review process thus far, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has committed to an evaluation of potential project‐related changes in greenhouse gas emissions, but only in response to the demands of stakeholders. With respect to climate change specifically, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has indicated it will examine how climate change may impact its project, but will not consider the potential contribution of the project to climate change.

The potential for this project to increase greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to climate change is of concern given the commitments of local, provincial, and federal governments to address climate change impacts. Minimal information is provided on the potential long‐term significant adverse environmental effects related to greenhouse gas emissions and therefore, this project requires a more thorough evaluation on these impacts.

3. Habitat

The Fraser River estuary is the single most important area of aquatic bird and raptor habitat in British Columbia. The intertidal marshes found in the estuary provide critical rearing areas for juvenile salmon. Metro Vancouver has a legislative responsibility to consider the regional and cumulative impacts of projects on the region’s ecology.

In addition, the current George Massey tunnel and the proposed new bridge bisect Metro Vancouver’s Deas Island Regional Park, having a direct impact on habitat for which Metro Vancouver is the public steward.

A federal environmental review would, we hope, involve a more comprehensive and complete look at the Fraser River estuary than the current provincial environmental review entails. The public concerns related to the potential significant adverse environmental effects on the Fraser River and the Park, in our opinion, necessitate a federal environmental review.

Metro Vancouver believes that the concerns raised in this letter highlight the potential for significant adverse environmental effects and, in Metro Vancouver’s view, provide a compelling case for a federal environmental review. Metro Vancouver therefore respectfully requests you use your discretion, pursuant to section 14(2) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, to order a federal environmental assessment of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project. Metro Vancouver requests, as well, that you consider referring the federal environmental assessment to a review panel on which key stakeholder groups, including Metro Vancouver itself, would have an opportunity to participate.

Thank you for your consideration of these requests.

Yours truly,

Greg Moore

Chair, Metro Vancouver Board

cc: The Honourable Mary Polak, BC Minister of Environment

The Honourable Todd Stone, BC Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure

=========================

UPDATE to which should be added

From: Eliza Olson [*******]
Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2016 3:23 PM
To:icentre@metrovancouver.org‘ <icentre@metrovancouver.org>
Cc:ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca‘ <ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca>
Subject: Attention: Greg Moore, letter to Hon. Min. McKenna

 

Greg Moore, Chair Metro Vancouver Board,

 

Congratulations on a very insightful letter sent to the Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, requesting a Federal Environmental Assessment of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.

 

Under Section 3 Habitat, there is no mention of the potential impact of the replacement of the tunnel on the Fraser Delta Ramsar Site, No. 243, specifically the South Arm Marsh.

 

In 2012, the Fraser Delta Ramsar site was proclaimed.  This is an international designation bestowed upon wetlands of international importance at the request of the originating country. This includes all levels of government within that country.  In the case of the Fraser Delta Ramsar Site, the request began with the Corporation of Delta, then Metro Vancouver, the BC Government and finally the Federal Government.

 

I am bringing this to you attention because it appears that since the great celebration that took place in 2012 that the moral obligations that go with asking and accepting the Ramsar designation of the Fraser River Delta as a “wetland of international importance” appears to be forgotten.

 

Failure to honour our international obligations regarding the Fraser Delta Ramsar Site No. 243, regardless how unintended, can bring dishonour to all levels of government.

 

The following wetland areas included in the Fraser Delta Ramsar Site No. 243, are Alaksen, Burns Bog, Boundary Bay, Serpentine, South Arm Marsh and Sturgeon Bank.

 

I am sure that this was not the intention of your letter. I am bringing this to your attention as a humble servant.

 

Sincerely,

 

Eliza Olson, LLD., B.Ed

President

 

Burns Bog Conservation Society

 

www.burnsbog.org

 

Did you know that an area of peatland the size of a soccer field stores the equivalent of CO2 that your car produces going around the world 3 times? Help us save our peatlands. Give today. www.burnsbog.org

Written by Stephen Rees

April 1, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Transportation

Fraser Voices vs Fortis BC

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My email inbox has been filling up today with a contretemps on LNG on the Fraser playing out in the letters page of the Richmond News. Since I have learned that it is sometimes a bit tricky getting to see on their web page what has been printed in the paper, I thought it might be useful to set out the correspondence here.

The day started with an email from  Viviana Zanocco who is the Community and Aboriginal Relations Manager in External Relations department of FortisBC to undisclosed recipients.

Good morning,

As part of our commitment to sharing project-related information with you in a timely manner, attached is a letter in which we respond to misinformation presented in a recent letter to the editor published in the Richmond News; we’re sharing it with you prior to its distribution to the media.

In the letter, a local resident said the George Massey tunnel replacement project is being driven by the needs of LNG proponents and could impact fish and fish habitat. This is something we’ve heard repeated in the community as the discussion about the bridge replacement unfolds and requires clarification.

The fact is that LNG carriers that could one day ply the waters of the Fraser River would be able to do so even if the tunnel remains in operation. WesPac Midstream LLP is proposing to build an LNG marine terminal next to our Tilbury LNG facility, which we’ve safely operated on the shores of the Fraser River since 1971. The jetty would be built to accommodate vessels in the same size range or smaller than the existing vessels currently operating on the Fraser River. WesPac has confirmed publicly that the concept under review wouldn’t be impacted regardless of whether or not the tunnel remains in operation.

We also believe that LNG will play an important role for the marine transportation industry in reducing emissions and potential environmental impacts associated with the use of heavy oil and diesel.

FortisBC’s  Richmond News_ Letter to the Editor is a pdf file you can read from that link

I am indebted to Susan Jones of Fraser Voices for the following rebuttal

In the letter to the Richmond News it is stated:

 

Whether the George Massey Tunnel is removed, replaced or expanded – or how the proposed bridge project is constructed – will have no impact on the WesPac proposal.

 

[This is] simply not true

 

Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) discussed LNG ships and the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project with the Gateway group.

 

The following are some notes I have on this topic.  Those FOI emails acquired by Voters Taking Action Against Climate Change and newspaper articles indicate that the LNG operations were included in the discussions between PMV and the federal and provincial governments.

 

BC Government representatives began a series of meeting with Port Metro Vancouver in early 2012 as the port made it clear that:

 

“The tunnel is also a marine bottleneck. It was not designed for the size of ships used in modern day trade, which must access the Fraser River in Richmond and Surrey. As a result, the tunnel is becoming a significant obstacle to international trade on the Fraser.”

(Robin Silvester, CE0, Port Metro Vancouver: Vancouver Sun, April 29, 2012)

 

Discussions were underway about clearances for the new potential crossing and Port Metro Vancouver made it clear to the government that plans should include air drafts to accommodate large ships:

 

“Liquid bulk tankers with larger air draft requirements (e.g. LNG) should be considered,”

 

(Port Development Strategies Manager, Jennifer Natland, Nov. 29, 2012 to Project Planners)

 

On September 20, 2013, the B.C. Government announced plans to build a bridge instead of replacing the tunnel.  Port Metro Vancouver was included in the following meetings for planning and design.  Emails show that port staff urged the province to design a taller bridge, even though that would mean higher costs, a more challenging design and a steeper grade for Highway 99 traffic on both approaches.

 

On July 16, 2014, Port Metro Vancouver CEO, Robin Silvester queried:

 

“What is the air draft of the largest length LNG vessel that we could imagine in the river?”

 

Port marine operations director Chris Wellstood responded:

 

“…we feel that the 61-metre MAX air draft would allow for the larger part of the world’s LNG fleet” – tankers up to 320 metres long- to pass under new bridge and head up the Fraser.””

In another exchange of emails:

 

“On a June 5th a follow up meeting between PMV and Gateway was held to discuss PMV’s height requirement and as a result of that meeting Gateway was going to provide a revised drawing with a 130 m one-way channel for clearances…

…The main issue with additional height for the bridge is that the shore landings need to be higher and longer which increases the overall cost of the project…

…Please let me know if you see a problem with the original height requirements requested by PMV in 2012…”

 

(Chris Wellstood, Director Marine Operations & Security, Habour Master to Cliff Stewart, to Cliff Stewart, Vice President, Infrastructure Delivery, Port Metro Vancouver, July 15, 2014)

 

A June 2014 briefing note by port officials following a meeting with provincial counterparts cautions:

 

“…there are multiple challenges with high costs to achieve PMV’s requested height” of 65 metres”.

 

These negotiations did not include the public or the local governments.  The public have not been provided with credible information for other options such as upgrading the existing tunnel, twinning the tunnel, a smaller bridge or retaining the status quo with better transit and restrictions on truck hours.

 

In spite of repeated requests for the business case for this Project, the provincial government has failed to produce this information.  This should have been presented to the public and local governments for comment in the early planning stages.

 

Also considerations of safety with LNG vessels on the river has not been addressed.

 

This LNG production and export are putting the public at great risk as they contravene international LNG Terminal Siting Standards as outlined by the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO).  The Standards claim LNG ports must be located where they do not conflict with other waterway uses as all other vessels must be considered as ignition sources.  The narrow, highly populated lower Fraser River, and narrow shipping lanes through the Gulf Island do not meet the international safety standards of wide exclusion zones.

 

If that is not enough you might also like to read Elizabeth May’s trenchant comments on BC’s approach to LNG tanker safety 

Written by Stephen Rees

March 24, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Groups Call on Feds to Fund Transit, not Massey Bridge

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MasseyBridge_protest_Jan2016

Press Release from The Wilderness Committee and Fraser Voices

FV LOGO colour

Open letter urges government to review project and consider alternatives

RICHMOND, BC – Community and national organizations are calling on the federal government to launch an environmental review of the proposed Massey Tunnel Replacement Project and to withhold federal infrastructure funding from the project.

Resident group Fraser Voices, the Wilderness Committee, Council of Canadians and five other organizations representing over 160,000 members and supporters have sent an open letter urging the federal government to use the money it has promised for infrastructure to fund transit projects in Metro Vancouver instead of the new 10-lane highway bridge.

“This federal money gives Canadians an opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past and build a greener future,” said De Whalen, one of the founding members of Fraser Voices. “But the Massey Bridge is imposing the same old car culture from the 1950s.”

The federal government has said it will fund environmental and social infrastructure with its $10 billion per year stimulus money. Extra vehicles resulting from the Massey Bridge and will add about seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over 50 years.

“It is irresponsible to be building new highways during a climate crisis, especially when they do nothing to ease congestion,” said Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner for the Wilderness Committee. “Even the mayor of Houston, Texas – with its 26-lane freeway – agrees it’s time to stop building highways and build transit instead.”

Community groups are hoping the federal budget next week will include funding for the Broadway Skytrain project and Surrey LRT instead. Along Highway 99, rapid bus service could ease congestion for a fraction of the $3.5 billion price tag of the proposed Massey Bridge.

application/pdf iconOpen letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mar. 17, 2016

 

Written by Stephen Rees

March 17, 2016 at 10:16 am

New Research: Carsharing entices Metro Vancouverites to sell their cars

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The following is a press release recently recieved from Modo

Modo InsightsWest PressRelease 10Mar16-Visualization

Millennials decidedly more likely to embrace benefits of carsharing than older residents

Vancouver, B.C. (March 10, 2016) – Growing exposure to carsharing in recent years is changing the perceptions of Metro Vancouver drivers, who may be considering selling their personal vehicles in favour of carsharing, according to a new Insights West poll conducted in partnership with Modo, Vancouver’s first and only carsharing co-operative.

In the online survey of a representative sample, 13 per cent of Metro Vancouverites say they have relied on carsharing to get around the region over the past year—a proportion that reaches 22 per cent among Millennials (residents aged 18-to-34). With Millennials feeling the financial squeeze in an increasingly expensive region, and with 70 per cent agreeing that carsharing is “an attractive option for people in my age group”, carsharing among this demographic is expected to rise sharply.

Even Metro Vancouverites who have not yet tried carsharing believe it offers significant benefits, with two thirds (65%) perceiving it as “less hassle than owning a car” and a majority citing the importance of savings from fuel costs (62%) and vehicle maintenance (57%). Half of Metro Vancouverites also say carsharing reduces traffic and congestion (49%) and provides easy access to parking (also 49%); which is a positive trend in a region striving to be seen as green, sustainable and most importantly, livable.

“Our members love that we offer them the flexibility to enjoy a less car-dependent lifestyle. They can drive one of our 450 different Modos – from sports cars to SUVs – when they need to without being tied down financially to owning and maintaining a private vehicle,” says Selena McLachlan, Director of Marketing & Business Development at Modo.

McLachlan says that it’s no surprise that the cost savings of carsharing are a highly ranked benefit among the general public. The survey found that seven-in-ten Metro Vancouverites (72%) say they would rather spend their money on other things than car maintenance.

“With the average cost of car ownership hovering around $9,000 per year, it’s easy to see why so many people are making the switch to carsharing and why we’ve experienced steady growth in our membership for the last nearly twenty years. For many of our 15,000 members, the decision to carshare is simply one of pragmatism,” comments McLachlan.

According to the survey, the majority of Metro Vancouver car owners (57%) acknowledged that the benefits of carsharing would make them contemplate selling their car, including 85% of Millennials and 55% of Generation Xers. Savings from vehicle maintenance (37%) and fuel costs (34%) are the most attractive features of carsharing among car owners who would consider shedding their vehicle.

“Carsharing is definitely growing across Metro Vancouver and as people are becoming more familiar with its benefits, their attitudes towards personal vehicle ownership are changing,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “Most Metro Vancouverites younger than 55 are pondering whether it is a good time to vacate the garage and start carsharing.”

As part of the study, a separate survey was conducted with a sample of Modo members, which shows that they are already experiencing the benefits that other Metro Vancouver car owners (who are not yet carsharing) are attracted to, with more than four-in-five saying that saving on vehicle maintenance is important to them (84%) and that carsharing is “less hassle than owning a car” (82%).

Add this to their ability to conveniently book a different kind of Modo for every type of trip – from a sporty Fiat Abarth to a practical Honda CRV – in advance or on the fly, the case for signing up as a member becomes even more compelling. It’s clear that carsharing is changing the transportation landscape in the region and that many residents are seeing this as a positive. Across Metro Vancouver, just under half of residents (47%) consider carsharing as an important part of their city’s transportation choices.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 13, 2016 at 3:52 pm

King Edward bike lanes

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This item was inspired by one of Ken Ohrn’s posts on Price Tags. Not that I am complaining, you understand. One must acknowledge that an effort is being made to improve cycling safety here, but at this particular location not much more was needed to produce something that would actually be safe. Designated lanes are better than sharrows – or nothing at all – but a painted line does not really do much to actually separate out two different  modes. A kerb would be better: a boulevard or barrier even more so.

The road is very wide with a large park like central median with mature trees. While the posted speed is the standard 50 km/hr the combination of the median and the broad paved area encourages much faster speeds. I observe that when I or my partner drive at the posted speed, everyone else is moving much faster. Since these improvements were made that has got a bit better at busy periods.

W/b at Valley looking east

This is the intersection of King Edward and Valley. It was formerly one moving traffic lane with parking permitted at the kerb. Paint has been used to designate a bike lane between the parked cars at the curb and the general purpose (GP)  traffic lane. You will also note that only a very short length of the curb lane becomes a right turn lane at the intersection.

If the double white line had been moved towards the curb by a metre then the parked cars would have acted as a buffer between the moving vehicle traffic and the bicycles, and the risk of dooring by a driver reduced. Of course, the risk of dooring by a disembarking passenger would have been greater and the bus stops required a different treatment.

e/b at Valley

The bus stop is on the far side of the intersection (of course) and the bollards have been put in now to stop the parking space being used as a queue jumper. Traffic backs up down the hill from the traffic light at Arbutus Street. You will also observe that there are no cars parked when the picture was taken (mid afternoon, weekday). That is because there is ample off street parking provided within the Arbutus Village development on the right. There is really no need for parking along this side of this part of the avenue. Prior to this work there were essentially two travel lanes – and a bit of a freeway mentality for the car drivers.   The green paint patches are for the driveways at the Village entrances/exits.

Now some will say that additional road width would be needed to allow for a proper protected bike lane. It seems to me that a narrower GP travel lane is already in place but has not done very much to reduce speeds. I suppose old habits die hard. Moreover there is plenty of space available but we do get awfully close to a knee jerk reaction when trees and lawn are threatened. Up at the Arbutus Intersection the paved right turn lane has been extended – simply because the large number of hefty off road pick ups and all wheel drive SUVs had created a longer informal turn lane out of the uncurbed median.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 3.23.31 PMThis is the Google map view

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 4.20.14 PM

Written by Stephen Rees

March 9, 2016 at 3:28 pm

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