Friday, May 2, 2008

Abbotsford Inter-Regional Transportation Select Committee

Wow that’s a long name… Anyway, it’s a new committee out of the City of Abbotsford that I was invited to sit on last night.

The purpose of the committee is to:

-Collect input from stakeholder regarding Inter-Regional Transportation East and West, with a particular emphasis on connections to Langley and Surrey.
-Outline transportation priorities form a community perspective.
-Review possible alternatives for “Rapid Transit” connections.
-Study preliminary economic cost/benefit analysis of options.
-Review historical data regarding rail connections.
-Submit a final report and make recommendations to Abbotsford Council by October 2008.

The first meeting went fairly well. There was representation from the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, City of Abbotsford, MLA John van Dongen, transportation planner Stephen Rees, University of the Fraser Valley, and sustainable transportation advocates.

Of course any transportation meeting in the Lower Mainland wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory debate about Gateway. There was also discussion about the Interurban, rail connections to Mission and the West Coast Express, and building a new four-lane highway where 16th Avenue is.

Luckily the Terms of Reference is focused on Surrey to Abbotsford transportation and “Rapid Transit”. There also seemed to be a general agreement that the Fraser Valley lacks sustainable transportation options. My hope is that this group will be able to present a truly visionary transportation plan to Abbotsford Council that re-balances our transportation system by building proper, sustainable transit with complementing land-use.

During the discussion about transportation last night, (I think) Councilor Harris told the Chamber representatives that she believed we must think beyond Single Occupancy Vehicles. Councilor Dave Loewen seemed very interested in the recent developments in the Township of Langley re: a ridership study for community rail. He basically said that it would behoove the City of Abbotsford to get involved with community rail and the Interurban.

I’m really excited to see where this group will go. I think it has the ability to set the stage for a policy shift within the City of Abbotsford. I'll keep you posted as things unfold with this committee.


Stephen Rees said...

I decided not to blog about the meeting, since it was not in public. We agreed not to go public until we have something to recommend, and it would be a shame if people felt inhibited in the discussion if they thought it would get reported outside the meeting.

Nathan Pachal said...

I understand where you are coming from, but since this is an "open" council committee the minutes of the meeting (and I would imagine the audio recording, if it's like the Township of Langley) are freely accessible to the public. I called Abbotsford City Hall to double check, and was told the minutes should be posted online soon.