Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Federal Government Responds Regarding Transportation

South Fraser OnTrax Board Member Bill Taylor sent the following e-mail to the Prime Minister of Canada and some Federal Officials. The views expressed may not fully represent the views of SFOT:

From: Bill Taylor
Cc: ; ; ; ;
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 4:53 PM
Subject: Transportation and Pollution

To: Prime Minister Steven Harper and our Honorable Members of Parliament.

In British Columbia the Provincial Liberal Government is doing a great job in Vancouver. There is a problem though on the south side of the Fraser River. There is very little choice for us but to use our own vehicles, as there is no major transportation system except for buses every half hour, meeting up with Skytrain. However, a passenger rail right-of-way is owned by the Provincial Government.

Light Passenger Rail would do a great deal of good to get us out of our own private vehicles. This would be an interurban route which would also connect Langley Airport and Abbotsford International Airport.

  • This would cost far less than anything the Provincial Government is suggesting that they may study in twenty (20) years time.
  • Interurban Passenger Rail Transportation for the South side of the Fraser river would be affordable (even by the TransLink’s own figures) reliable, and sustainable. Bombardier can make these cars, if there is any preference.
  • The vehicle traffic is a nightmare now, what will it be like in twenty years time?
  • I am for Gateway but with all due respect, there is a better and shorter route that at least one-half the heavy rail traffic could use. This heavy rail situation is now blocking up vehicles on both sides of the Fraser River needlessly.
  • The Federal and Provincial Governments both say they want to cut down on Pollution, and Interurban Light Passenger Rail going from the Skytrain in Surrey, and eventually to Chilliwack, would be a good way to do just that.
  • The LRT service could be built in two to three years, depending on how many cities are connected in the first phase.
  • The taxpayers in Surrey are going to have a demonstration railway established by 2010 on a portion of the old Interurban track, paid for mostly from their own pockets and will run from the Skytrain to Cloverdale.
Congratulations for getting into power. I am sure this LRT plan would win you all votes, for by far the majority of people I have been talking to believe the carbon tax is just a money grab.

Yours truly,

Bill Taylor

He received this response:

From: "Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities / Ministre des
Transports, de l'infrastructure et des Collectivit├ęs"
To: Bill Taylor
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2008 1:17 PM
Subject: Building Canada Fund

Dear Mr. Taylor:

The Prime Minister’s Office has forwarded to the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, a copy of your correspondence of April 9, 2008, regarding various transportation issues in Vancouver. Minister Cannon has asked me to reply on his behalf. Please be assured that the Government of Canada believes that funding for public transportation is a priority that will make cities more livable, ease traffic congestion and contribute to cleaner air and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The federal government is taking significant action to address gridlock, improve the environment and increase economic growth in the Greater Vancouver Area by providing $450 million toward the construction of the Canada Line. This important rapid transit project linking Richmond and Vancouver International Airport with downtown Vancouver is expected to open in 2009.

In addition, Budget 2008 provides an allocation of $66.7 million to the Province of British Columbia under the Public Transit Capital Trust 2008. As announced on March 11, 2008, by Premier Gordon Campbell and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Province has decided to designate the entire amount to the Evergreen Line rapid transit project.

With the recent launch of the $33-billion Building Canada plan, the federal government will provide more support for infrastructure investments than ever before. A significant portion of this funding is expected to flow to public transit, which has been identified as one of five national priorities under the new $8.8-billion Building Canada Fund. Furthermore, Provincial and Territorial Base Funding will provide $2.275 billion over the next seven years, on an equal per jurisdiction basis, which can also be used to support priority transit projects. Transit is also an eligible category under the $1.25-billion Public-Private Partnership Fund.

The Building Canada plan also includes continuing federal contributions from a full rebate of the Goods and Services Tax, and from the Gas Tax Fund, which was made permanent in Budget 2008. By 2014, municipal governments in

British Columbia will have received close to $1.5 billion, through the Gas Tax Fund, for environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure, including public transit. From 2007 to 2010, the Greater Vancouver Regional District will receive over $233 million in Gas Tax funding, which will be dedicated to public transit. I trust that the foregoing has clarified the Minister’s position with respect to this matter. Again, thank you for writing.

Yours truly,

Andrew Walasek
Senior Special Assistant


Unknown said...

Oh thank GOD! They're building the Canada Line AND the Evergreen Line. Consider the problems South of the Fraser SOLVED.

Nathan Pachal said...

I guess that was form email #1 for Vancouver public transit.

Joe Zaccaria said...

Yeah, you caught that to Brandon! So the world really revolves around Vancouver and in a few years when Surrey has surpassed them in population, then perhaps we can have the "Rebuilding Canada Fund"?

BTW....The Building Canada Fund is just the Federal Conservative re-branding of the same old fund that is used to build new things and replace aging infrastructure. Something that as a country we do poorly.

Unknown said...

The only letter I got from the 'actual MP' and not his/her secretary was Art Eggleton years ago when he was MoD. Took him a while but it was indeed the minister himself.

You should get those articles put in the newspaper side-by-side.