Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Election Series – Part Four

Today we will be hearing from the BC Liberals’ Langley Candidate Mary Polak. I posted part three of this series last Friday.

What will your government do to promote sustainable community design?
Creating sustainable communities is key to meeting our environmental and economic goals as a province. We’ve worked closely with the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to develop the type of government supports that will enable local governments to change the way in which they plan for the future.

We established the Green City Awards which provide substantial cash awards to local governments whose planning practices have enhanced integrated community design, physical activity, energy conservation and environmental benefits. The award criteria focuses on mixed-use, compact and complete communities; inter-connected networks of pedestrian and bicycle trails, parks and urban forests; smaller urban footprints with more affordable housing and efficient construction practices; reduced greenhouse gas emissions and decreased water use; age and access friendly design; protection of green spaces and increased transportation options.

We’ve provided financial support for these initiatives through the Healthy Communities Initiative (joint with UBCM) and through millions of dollars in grant programs such as:
-Local Motion grants for capital projects like bike paths, walkways and greenways. Grants are also provided for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and making communities more senior- and disability-friendly
-Trees for Tomorrow grants to support community organizations, First Nations and local governments in planting four million trees in public spaces
-Towns for Tomorrow grants designed specifically to assist smaller communities as they work to become greener, healthier and more liveable

What will your government do to get light rail and other forms of alternative transportation built in the South of Fraser?
Light rail and other forms of alternative transportation are critical to the development of the Fraser Valley. Beyond the obvious transit benefits are numerous positive environmental impacts.

The advancement of light rail and other transit options is one reason the construction of the Port Mann Bridge is critically important. The bridge will be constructed with the capacity for light rail installation. In addition, Rapid Bus service with dedicated on ramps and cue jumper lanes will bring transit back to the Port Mann corridor for the first time in 20 years. It will serve communities like Langley as we work to expand light rail and other transit options

As we consider the range of possible transit options, we are currently studying the viability of the old inter-urban corridor. We want to make the best possible use of existing infrastructure as we work to provide a variety of transportation choices for Langley and the surrounding area. We’ll do whatever the evidence tells us. We want to be sensitive to the fact that the Inter-urban line runs through large sections of ALR land. It’s important to evaluate the impact of increased pressure on the ALR as a result of the desirability of development in and around major transit infrastructure.

Like you, I am frustrated that light rail will not be available sooner. If infrastructure investment south of the Fraser had kept pace with growth during the 90’s we wouldn’t be forced to build our way out of a transit deficit now. Nevertheless, we must move forward from where we are and hope that subsequent BC governments will not neglect south of the Fraser communities in the future.

1 comment:

bregalad said...

While the interurban does run through some ALR, it's an existing right of way meaning it's anywhere from a third (on-street LRT) to one twentieth (SkyTrain) the cost of all other rail alternatives.

I do not want to see more ALR compromised for urban uses, but the low cost of putting LRT on the old line means that high density isn't needed to make it financially viable.

There's really no need to put a station in a rural location. The model has been around since ancient times. Ox carts, stage coaches, and steam trains all had defined stops in locations that provided passengers, freight and services. In between they ran non-stop through relatively unpopulated territory following the most efficient path. It was rare for the most efficient path to be a straight line because there were so many other variables including terrain, climate, cost of construction and maintenance, and the need to limit disruption to existing land uses.

The old interurban line with it's many twists and turns looks circuitous today compared with the straight line of highway 1, but that route has enormous efficiencies for a modern train. Most notably it goes through the middle of all the cities south of the Fraser, unlike Hwy 1 which by-passes many of the people and businesses.

At the same time adding additional trains to an existing rail line is both the lowest cost and least disruptive option. How our current batch of provincial politicians can say it needs further study is mind boggling.