New Democrats can be half-pregnant!

As our astute readers may know, the provincial New Democrats have yet to say whether they oppose the Liberal's Gateway Program. Of course, we shouldn't be so impatient. After all, Premier Gordon Campbell only announced that program back in January, er, 2006. Nevertheless, the party's transportation critic David Chudnovsky recently attended a demonstration against the controversial infrastructure program. And, now, it's been brought to our attention the New Democrats's agriculture committee has joined The Gateway 30 Network, an alliance of "over 40 community groups that are working together to point out the flaws in the Gateway Program and offer alternatives that will keep the Lower Mainland the most liveable region in Canada." Funny that.

8 Comments

Good to see old Mrs Dithers out in the lead of her party... NOT!

Parts of the Gateway program, specifically the South Fraser Perimeter Road, will impact farmland. From memory, I have heard figures to the effect that 70 hectares of farmland would be consumed by the SFPR. There are valid questions to be asked about the specific routing and about ameliorative measures in that case.

However, most of the opposition to Gateway, including that of East End asphalt jungle MLAs David Chudnovsky and Shane Simpson, has been framed in the same terms as the arrogant diatribes offered up by Vancouver and Burnaby politicians, be it Ladner and Capri on the right or Cadman and Corrigan on the left. Cadman stated explicitly when Vancouver City passed its anti Port Mann resolution that there was no problem with either the North or South Fraser Perimeter Roads, or the Golden Ears Bridge and approach roads, or the new Pitt River Bridge, " ... we support all those things"(or wording all but identical to that). But, cried Cadman, Vancouver City Council must be forever unanimously opposed to the proposal to twin the Port Mann Bridge and to widen Hwy 1, and be opposed no matter what.

The Hwy 1 and Port Mann elements of Gateway involve no, or virtually no incursion on the ALR, and would be contained within the exisiting Hwy 1 ROW, or in the case of the second bridge, on industrial and commercial lands immediately adjacent to the existing ROW.

It makes sense for the NDP's agriculture committee to have an interest in and a position on Gateway in relation to the SFPR. What has never made any environmental sense, on GHGs or land or water use or any other basis whatsoever, is the opposition to a second Port Mann Bridge and a widened Hwy 1. That position, in which the perimeter roads are OKay and Port Mann is a problem is a pre-meditated environmental fraud adopted by completely cynical Vancouver and Burnaby politicians, and by some equally cynical environmental NGOs, who are in both cases representing private real estate interests and concerns about the distribution of the industrial and commercial tax base, and are nakedly pandering to petty anxieties around the relative political status of the various municipalities within the GVRD, specifically phobias about the rising influence of Surrey.


"Parts of the Gateway program, specifically the South Fraser Perimeter Road, will impact farmland. From memory, I have heard figures to the effect that 70 hectares of farmland would be consumed by the SFPR. There are valid questions to be asked about the specific routing and about ameliorative measures in that case."

Possibily, but the alignments have already been discussed in Public Input sessions from 2003, and that 70 hectares is not one square area, but is the total of linear measured land from Tilbury
Lands to DeltaPort Way. The road would most likely have underpass culverts on it.

"However, most of the opposition to Gateway, including that of East End asphalt jungle MLAs David Chudnovsky and Shane Simpson, has been framed in the same terms as the arrogant diatribes offered up by Vancouver and Burnaby politicians, be it Ladner and Capri on the right or Cadman and Corrigan on the left. Cadman stated explicitly when Vancouver City passed its anti Port Mann resolution that there was no problem with either the North or South Fraser Perimeter Roads, or the Golden Ears Bridge and approach roads, or the new Pitt River Bridge, " ... we support all those things"(or wording all but identical to that). But, cried Cadman, Vancouver City Council must be forever unanimously opposed to the proposal to twin the Port Mann Bridge and to widen Hwy 1, and be opposed no matter what."

True. Simply because the other projects do not impact Burnaby or Vancouver. It's a case of them being xenophobic and NIMBY's.

The Hwy 1 and Port Mann elements of Gateway involve no, or virtually no incursion on the ALR, and would be contained within the exisiting Hwy 1 ROW, or in the case of the second bridge, on industrial and commercial lands immediately adjacent to the existing ROW."

True, since none are on arable land, and what land would be consumed beyond the existing rights of way is industrial use land.

"It makes sense for the NDP's agriculture committee to have an interest in and a position on Gateway in relation to the SFPR. What has never made any environmental sense, on GHGs or land or water use or any other basis whatsoever, is the opposition to a second Port Mann Bridge and a widened Hwy 1. That position, in which the perimeter roads are OKay and Port Mann is a problem is a pre-meditated environmental fraud adopted by completely cynical Vancouver and Burnaby politicians, and by some equally cynical environmental NGOs, who are in both cases representing private real estate interests and concerns about the distribution of the industrial and commercial tax base, and are nakedly pandering to petty anxieties around the relative political status of the various municipalities within the GVRD, specifically phobias about the rising influence of Surrey."

Partially true, but the Burnaby Councillors do not
have the big picture. The anti-Gateway People have also passed the Environmental Review step for the SFPR's southern sections.

On the other side of the ledger, the so-called
"Concerned Citizens" of the GetMoving BC have also missed many opportunties to state their case too since much of the SFPR's Public Information Sessions are now completed.

Recent news from the Spanish town of Velez-Malaga (population 52,150) newly opened tramway (LRT) shows that modern LRT can be built very cheaply. The total cost, including three modern low-floor cars, of the standard gauge, double track 3.1 km line was Euro (EUR) 18 million or CAD $27.1 million!

The new LRT line is designed to economically carry 1.2 million passengers per year and certain counters TransLink & Transportation Minister, Kevin Falcon's oft repeated myth that there isn't the density for LRT in the Fraser Valley for light rail!

Using the Velez-Malaga LRT as a template, we could reinstate the Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban for well under $800 million with electric service or well under $500 million using Diesel LRT! Vancouver to Steveston via the Arbutus, using Velez Malaga as a template, would cost well under $300 million! For less than half the cost of RAV we could have LRT from Vancouver to Steveston and Chilliwack!

By comparison, for the same cost of the new Velez-Malaga tramway, one could only build 200 metres of the new RAV/Canada line subway being built in Vancouver! This on a route that doesn't have the density to support a $2.5 billion subway!

The Velez-Malaga tramway is built on-street and if rights-of-way's of existing railways were to be used, such as the former rapid transit route the Arbutus corridor or the intact, former interurban line to Chilliwack, the cost for new LRT would be even cheaper!

Unlike bus based transit modes and claustrophobic subways, modern LRT has a proven record in attracting the motorist from the car and at a cost of just over $9 million km to build, LRT would be cheaper than new highway construction.

The question for regional politicians is; not to debate the viability of LRT, rather when to start building with a proven and very cost effective remedy for congestion and associated pollution!

Well said Grumpy. The problem we as British Columbians face is so many of us are in simple terms self-important fat-asses who think we are special enough that we can pollute, add to congestion and help the local auto retail industry and not pay a price for it.

But of course all the environmentalists are in bed with the developers. That makes about as much sense as allowing another 100,000 cars onto the streets each month to ease congestion.

If you have on grade LRT, you are better off going with buses, cheaper to operate and much more flexible.

The average bus is 40% the capital cost of the equivalent rail car and has a much lower maintenance cost. Buses can be quickly and easily re-routed as needed and moved to routes that need more capacity.

Rail only makes sense if it is separate from the rest of the traffic and has very heavy traffic

Meanwhile, the costs of the Spanish line, it is not comparable to BC. 1 km of railway right of way in the GVRD will cost in the order of $2 000 000 to $10 000 000. The cost of buying the track out to Chilliwack would be prohibitively expensive, as would buying the Arbutus line. The roads are public, the rail lines are not.

In theory one can rent time on the tracks, but the typical rate a rail owner will charge for the use of their tracks will make a commuter rail service unaffordable. You also have the problem that the freight trains the owner runs will take precedence.

Meanwhile, if one were to look closely at the Spanish one mentioned, one would see that they could have accomplished the exact same thing with Vancouver style trolley buses and save many millions of Euros.

The RAV line is expensive, but once it is in place, it will be there for the long term. 100 years from now people will still be using it. There is no higher use for the tunnels than transit. All surface rail lines must justify themselves versus higher and better uses for the land.

Bernard, you forget one very important item, buses do not attract ridership. Rapid bus, guided bus, and busways have all failed to attract ridership. The opposite is true with light rail, where new systems have some impressive numbers in attracting the motorist from the car.

Ottawa built busways for Rapid bus, but the busways ultimately cost more than LRT to build and ridership dropped some 15% after they were built!

By the way tunnels are not only expensive to build but also very expensive to maintain. If a mistake is made in the location for a subway tunnel, you are stuck with it! I have read somewhere that EEC has about 100 km. of unused, never used, and abandoned subway tunnels! Also, subways are again very poor in attracting new ridership and are avoided by knowledgeable transit planners, except when daily ridership exceeds 300,000 to 400,000 per day per route!

Trolley buses suffer the same affliction as regular buses, poor at attracting ridership. European transit planners know this very well and will not invest in trolley or guided bus routes unless compelled to do so by senior governments. They want proven transit that works.

For track sharing to work is legislation compelling track owners to offer fair rates and pathways. This happened with the famous Karlsruhe's famous zwei system LRT. DB played the game and bought trams to compete with the transit authority on their tracks! Seems it was "what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!"

Grumpy, I don't believe the dream of cheap but effective LRT that you're peddling any more than you do. If it's cheap, it won't be effective. If it's effective, it won't be cheap. Can we have a least a minimal standard of intellectual honesty here, just for once?

For example, if an LRT of the type you're describing were installed in the Fraser Valley, how many hours would it take for a traveller to go from Chilliwack to Vancouver? Wouldn't two and a half hours be a minimal estimate?

Consider the idiotic proposals by Mayors MacLean and Robson to extend the Green Line LRT to the Ridge Meadows area. It sounds "progressive" and helps keeps their name in the news. But if such a system were installed, the West Coast Express would be withdrawn and the trip from Ridge-Meadows to Waterfront would extend from 45 minutes on the Express to 1.5 hours or more, according to Translink's own study of LRT for the Northeast sector.

That, of course, is what certain fake transit experts want, to make sure that transportation from outer suburb to downtown core is as excruciatingly long as possible. That way, property prices close in will keep their high premiums. So-called transport experts working for NGOs like SPEC ahve condemned the West Coast Express as a tool of urban sprawl, just like they do freeways. There's a cetain intellectual consistency there in that they condemn any transportation tool which would actually result in tolerably short trip times from urban core to outer suburb.

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