Category Archives for "British Columbia"

Apr 11

Massey Bridge Machinations 2 (2017-04)

By Rick | British Columbia

An April 5, 2017 column by The Vancouver Sun’s political columnist, Vaughn Palmer, described how the B.C. government’s pre-construction / pre-election photo-op for the $3.5 billion Massey Bridge project was hijacked by a group protesting the mega-project. TABC Member Stephen Rees penned a letter to the paper responding to Palmer’s column.

Stephen’s letter follows:

“Vaughn Palmer’s characterization of the protest at the tunnel ceremony is not accurate. There are real alternatives to the $3.5bn vanity project that have not been adequately examined.

The real problem is congestion at peak periods. Traffic through the tunnel has actually been in steady decline for the last ten years. However, the Port of Vancouver operates the container terminal on bankers’ hours. Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm. No other port operates like that. It ensures that truck traffic uses the tunnel at peak periods, and makes the congestion worse. That is deliberate. It helps the port make the case for tunnel removal. There are plenty of records available that demonstrate the Port’s long term strategy for deepening the dredging of the channel – and the tunnel prevents that. In the short term, simply banning trucks at peak periods – and opening the container collection and delivery facilities 24/7 – will relieve the present problem. 

In the longer term, congestion can never be solved by widening roads. Never has done, never will do. All that does is move the line-up to somewhere else. The only way to reduce car traffic is increase transit service. One bus can carry many more people in 40’ of road than cars can. The province has already invested in bus lanes both sides of the tunnel but service needs to be increased. And when that isn’t enough, add another tube on the river bed carrying light rail. 

As for the claim that the “full freight will be covered by tolls”, it has not worked for the Port Mann or the Golden Ears. Why would the Massey replacement be any different?”

The bridge’s financial model is now even more dependent on taxpayer subsidisation as both major political parties have announced policies (April 9, 2017) to reduce tolls collected on Lower Mainland bridges. The Liberals will cap annual tolls at $500 and the NDP will eliminate tolls altogether. No word from either party if transit “tolls” will also be capped or eliminated.

Stephen’s blog at https://stephenrees.wordpress.com/ contains a wealth of additional information debunking much of the government’s claims about the bridge,

 


Source: TABC

Mar 29

John Forman Howes

By matthew | British Columbia

Long-time Transport 2000 BC/Transport Action BC member, John Howes, died on February 4, 2017. John was a delight to chat with, always smiling and quick to praise. He was a true gentlemen and will be missed.

John had a long, distinguished career in academia. He was a Professor Emeritus in UBC’s Department of Asian Studies – a department he helped found in 1961

A memorial service was held on Saturday, March 18 at 2 PM in Christ Church Cathedral.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/theprovince/obituary.aspx?n=john-forman-howes&pid=184131031

http://asia.ubc.ca/in-memoriam-john-forman-howes-1924-2017

Mar 02

Massey Bridge Machinations (2017-03)

By Rick | British Columbia

The B.C. government’s project to replace the George Massey Tunnel, south of Vancouver, with a mega-bridge continues to generate controversy. Two significant news items were recently published.

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B.C.’s online news organisation, The Tyee, published a pair of articles on the proposed bridge. They are part of The Tyee’s pre-election coverage for the May provincial election.

The first article (“How B.C. Taxpayers Ended Up Paying for the $3.5-billion Massey Bridge) is a useful summary of how we got to a 10-lane bridge proposal. The province claims a bridge is necessary to relieve congestion and provide a seismically-safe alternative to the tunnel. However, this article’s back story is that the proposal resulted from Port Metro Vancouver’s [PMV] desire to allow deeper-draft ships into the Fraser River, to serve PMV’s and private sector port and industrial facilities. The existing tunnel limits draft to 11.5 metres, whereas PMV desires drafts of 15.5 to 18.5 metres, depending on the life span of the tunnel’s replacement.

The article discusses how a group of citizens, using FOI requests and determined sleuthing, came up with a number of “smoking gun” e-mails detailing PMV’s wish for a bridge to replace the tunnel and eventual provincial concurrence. FOI requests for provincial e-mails were rebuffed, as no such e-mails apparently existed (a familiar story to anyone who follows BC provincial politics). However, e-mails were found in recipients’, such as Transport Canada, records. The timeline in these messages was several months before the province announced its plans for a tunnel replacement project and almost 2 years before the bridge replacement proposal was made public.

The second Tyee article (“To Critics, Massey Bridge is an Environmental and Planning Disaster), begins with a B.C. government graphic which clearly shows everything that is wrong about the bridge proposal. It depicts a huge, 1960’s-era, multi-level, freeway interchange that is clearly for automobile and truck traffic. There are hints at a transit lane through the interchange and a pedestrian/cycle path snakes around and under it but this is “Motordom” (shout-out to Gordon Price’s blog) writ large.

The bridge proposal supports more auto-dependent, suburban sprawl and will put industrial development pressure on farm land in South Surrey and Delta. Richmond’s Mayor Brodie, a vocal opponent of the bridge, says it goes against decades of Metro  Vancouver’s regional planning to reduce sprawl and increase transit usage. He compares the fight against the bridge to Vancouver’s anti-freeway movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Unfortunately, this fight is with a senior level of government that, no matter what the political stripe, has shown little regard for Metro Vancouver’s priorities.

With the tunnel gone, PMV could argue for dredging of the river, allowing larger ships to travel upstream. Deep dredging and industrialisation of the river have serious environment impacts. A faster flowing river, with hardened boundaries eliminates the quiet places where wildlife rests and feeds; increases silt flows affecting migratory bird habitat and the Salish Sea; and potentially allows salt water (the Fraser River is tidal in this section) to flow further upstream, affecting agricultural production.  Faster water flows can also lead to “scouring” of river banks with catastrophic results – a large hydro tower collapsed at the edge of the Fraser River several years ago as a result of its piers having supporting material washed away.

It should be noted that all Metro Vancouver’s mayors (except Delta’s) oppose the bridge project. Support comes from the BC Government, PMV, shippers and the Tsawwassen First Nation (developers of the Tsawwassen Mills mega-mall)

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The Vancouver Sun’s, Vaughn Palmer pointed out an interesting piece of information from the B.C. government’s recent budget and B.C. Hydro’s 2017 service plan. The Hydro utility has a $76-million project to replace two 230 Kilovolt transmission circuits that use the tunnel. No word on who will pay for the re-location – the bridge project, the utility or a combination of both (ultimately the taxpayers, of course). Apparently, Hydro started the work on the transmission project before the bridge project received environmental approval and before the transportation ministry began site preparations. Palmer wonders why the rush and then answers his own question by stating that Premier Clark promised the project would start before the next election.

And so it has.


Source: TABC

Oct 24

BC Government has started consultations on two projects having major implications for transportation options in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor and on the Sunshine Coast

By admin | Aviation & Marine , British Columbia , Highways & Bridges , Latest Regional News , Regions , Topics

By Rick Jelfs, Transport Action British Columbia

The BC Government has started consultations on two projects that have major implications for transportation options in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor and on the Sunshine Coast.

1) Transport Minister Stone and regional representatives kicked off a public consultation process discussing potential transit service improvements in the Sea-to-Sky corridor from Whistler/Pemberton to the Lower Mainland. Some details are available in the news article at  http://www.squamishchief.com/news/local-news/province-gets-behind-plan-to-expand-sea-to-sky-transit-1.2369970 . More information and an on-line survey are available at https://bctransit.com/seatosky .

2) The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure released a set of possible routings for fixed-link (highways and bridges) connections between Highway 99 and the Sunshine Coast, including Powell River. The links would replace existing Horseshoe Bay-Langdale and Earl’s Cove-Saltery Bay ferry services The proposals are all costed at $1.5 to 3.0 Billion plus. The news article at http://www.squamishchief.com/news/local-news/possible-squamish-to-sunshine-coast-fixed-link-discussed-1.2368835 offers some more details on the proposals.