Hot and cold

Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is getting hot under the collar about New Democrat critic Maurine Karagianis's proposed "cold-blooded" approach to Lower Mainland transportation issues. Last month, Ms. Karagianis told Public Eye the fact she represents a Vancouver Island riding, gives her "a better opportunity to look at "the government's controversial highway expansion project "in a cold-blooded way and to look at it in a practical and political sense without a lot of background in the community affecting my thinking one way or another."

Asked for comment, Minister Falcon said, "When it comes time to talk about the Gateway Program, I can't wait. Because I would love to know when the last time she actually drove across the Port Mann Bridge was, if ever. To me, that's just a fundamental issue. I haven't gleaned any advice whatsoever that she has a clue about what the issues are in the Lower Mainland in terms of traffic congestion - particularly the Port Mann Bridge" - which is set to be twinned. "I'll be you, you can't even get her to point on a map as to where the South Fraser Perimeter Road goes...I just can't think of a person who's less qualified to understand from the actual experience of knowing the area or driving the area" to debate the Gateway Program.

Continued Minister Falcon, "The fact of the matter is the NDP on this - as in so many other major issues - refuse to take a position. They are terrified of this particular project. And the reason they're terrified is because they know there's huge, widespread support for it. And, yet, they can't deal with the divisions in their own caucus."


This Falcon I recall he doesn't live in New West or Burnaby...maybe he needs to get in a car and think about the back end of the commute AFTER he dumps a few more behicles into the neck of the bottle.

$2 Billion into Liberal Richmond, but no rapid transit yet to the Tricity and the valley.

Why would that be? Sure glad, he's non-partisan and assumes the greater good first!!!! I like an Island perspective on this.

"Last month, Ms. Karagianis told Public Eye that [she would look at the Gateway Program] "in a practical and political sense""

Well, former NDP premier Mike Harcourt's statements in today's Vancouver Sun, in reference to the Gateway Program, are:

"Why punish people in cars? says Harcourt. He says that peoples' fears that more roads will create a flood of sprawl in the valley ignores reality. Those people are there already."

And from the Georgia Strait Harcourt adds:

"The critics of the Port Mann Bridge have missed the point. The horse has left the barn..."

Throw in the Sept. 7 Mustel poll with the finding:

"GVRD residents broadly agree that car congestion is becoming *worse* in the region. About *eight in ten* say that auto congestion in the Lower Mainland ... has *increased* in the past year."

Ergo, if Karagianis looks at the Gateway Program in a *practical and political sense* (her won words), the only outcome for the NDP would be to support these highway projects.

End of story.

I attended a forum last nite at the SFU Harbourside, the City's Program. Guests were Ken Cameron and Mike Harcourt and Sean Rossiter, discussing their new book, and hosted by Gordon Price, ... not my favourite "urbanist", ... but what the Hell.

One or two people tried to bring up the anti-Gateway thing, ... and it just fell flat. Despite the fact that in the historic retelling of the last forty years there was plenty of mention of resisting a harbourfront freeway, and the like. I think the crusaders have gotten the message. They have lost their battle to stop a necessary improvement to the Trans Canada Hwy.

Perhaps Mr. Falcon needs a little history lesson. In the long history of Transportation Ministers in British Columbia, he is the anomaly! The tradition for decades - by all political stripes - has been to appoint Ministers from outside of the lower mainland.
One of the most venerated and respected Transportation Ministers of all time - Alex Fraser - was also not a Vancouverite!
And he's someone I admire & would choose to emulate!

"One of the most venerated and respected Transportation Ministers of all time - Alex Fraser - was also not a Vancouverite!
And he's someone I admire & would choose to emulate!"

Interesting point.

Alex Fraser was the Socred minister responsible for the last major freeway initiative in Metro Vancouver... namely Hwy 91, Hwy 91A, and the Alex Fraser Bridge.

Subsequent NDP and Liberal governments provided further upgrades to Hwys 91 and 91A to a freeway standard.

"Alex Fraser was the Socred minister responsible for the last major freeway initiative in Metro Vancouver... namely Hwy 91, Hwy 91A, and the Alex Fraser Bridge."

I guess half or even a quarter of a story is better than none. The Annacis Island Bridge was named after Minister Fraser once it was known that he was mortally ill with cancer. It was a nice gesture, who could argue. But it tended to continue the rather frontier practice of Social Credit in naming major public works after some of their favourite politicians. Gaglardi Way and Massey Tunnel are two other examples.

The Annacis Island Bridge was for the most part designed under the Barrett Govt, and was going to be the show case reelection plank for the southern suburbs in expected 1976 campaign. But Barrett jumped the gun and called the election too early, for December of 1975. So the project sat in the highways bureaucracy for three or more years until Bill Bennett was ready to use it as his reelection gimmick for the 1979 campaign, ... along with the justly notorious BCRIC share distribution scam. Note that the project had sat idle for two or three years instead of getting work underway in order to optimize election impacts.

The NDP decided, for whatever reason, to oppose the project, a move the prevented the party from making enough of a comeback in the outer suburbs (Surrey, Dewdney, Delta, ... ) and therefore Social Credit was narrowly reelected. That was the last time the NDP tried to use the anti-blacktop government schtick from the 1950s and 1960s, the party having finally learned its lesson the hard way one too many times. In the last year or so the party's numbskull wing has tried to go back to that approach on the Gateway issue, but they have now been bounced.

Maybe what's needed is a Royal Commission on transportation to review highways, LRT and other transit, ferries, and the lamentable situation in terms of railways that were once a provincial asset. Just trying to think outside the box.

"I guess half or even a quarter of a story is better than none."

Well, I guess based upon that reasoning conceptual plans for the SFPR and Port Mann twinning were already launched under the NDP.

In any event, Fraser was the minister for transportation and highways between '75 and - '89(?) when the bridge structure, southern Hwy 91, the east-west connector (western Hwy 91), and Hwy 91A were initially approved for funding, construction began, and were finally completed.

Interesting sidebar.... there was a large hue and cry from North Delta residents through the media in the early '80's over the alignment of the AF bridge.

Nordel residents preferred an alignment further west called the "W1" alignment due to noise/visual concerns, but Fraser and ministry staff would have nothing of it.

Interestingly enough, then Vancouver Mayor Mike Harcourt also lambasted the proposed Annacis Hwy system.

Shades of today, perhaps??

And of course, it was under Fraser's tenure that another major BC freeway project commenced and completed, namely Phases 1, 2 and 3 of the Coquihalla system inclusive of the Okanagan Connector (exclusive of the Merritt to Aspen Grove section).

I don't know if Bob Jeffries is a former confidante of the late Alex Fraser or just one of many once-upon-a-time Socred executive assistant types who has been an unemployed unemployable since the crash of 1991.

However, it's well know that Alex Fraser's truly unique contribution to the BC highway system can be found in his home turf, the Cariboo. Paving roads to small rural locations such as Likely and Horsefly, a service not extended to otherwise similar small communities elsewhere, and four laning a southerly section of 97 long before there was any plan for a general four-laning were the Minister's personal touches.

Fraser would often talk in the Legislature during Estimate debates about how he thought it was just ducky that the Trans Canada Hwy ROW though Greater Vancouver was wide enough to allow the addition of some extra lanes. It was, of course, nothing but pure, raw, unadulterated chat. No lanes were actually added till Glen Clark became Premier.

If Bob is in fact a devotee of Alex Fraser, I have no idea why he would want to lay the Coquihalla Hwy project, including its scandalous cost overuns (fleets of concrete mixers sent up from Vancouver without proper scheduling and being told to simply dump the stuff in a pile), at Fraser's feet. That project was directed from the Premier's office and was largely the brainchild of Bud Smith, a Kamloops lawyer who had worked as an equipment operator for some years before going to law school, and who wanted to cultivate the road building industry as a key SC constituency.

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