Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday Trauma

Sorry for the late post! My Tuesday has been a train wreck (pun intended). It started with the usual long day and evening sessions of Township of Langley Council meetings, and then I punished myself further with a late-night online currency trading (FOREX) session that entered into the wee hours of the morning. But it was all very rewarding. Such sessions will allow me to continue to advocate for light rail (my real full-time job), while at the same time being able to keep my house.

Lots of news and interesting tidbits, so let's dig in...

The Abbotsford Times carries a letter from a bright UFV student. The writer talks about the need for new leaders with vision (or at least old leaders with a renewed vision). I sense the writer's frustration with the system, lack of financial commitments, political will and fortitude to get moving on LRT transit in the South Fraser. Daniel van der Kroon says, "

The old Interurban corridor connects all the major urban centres (the Valley was settled around the Interurban) as well as many of the post-secondary institutions.

It is a practical solution for residents of the Fraser Valley that would provide an alternative to driving and yet authorities continue to pussyfoot around the issue.

A study on transit options for the South Fraser region is promised, but not to be delivered until after the provincial election.

Abbotsford council will be issued with a report on the feasibility of passenger rail in October. Let's make sure this issue doesn't get stalled any longer and use the upcoming elections, municipal and provincial, to elect politicians with vision. Vote for people who understand the long term and immediate benefits of re-activating the Interurban corridor."

Why is it that the average person on the street that I speak with all the time, fully understands that light rail transit is exploding across North America as a development magnet and people-mover? Yet after almost 70 years of preserving the interurban right-of-way and running a little freight traffic on this line, our leaders are still talking about expensive studies, outdated bus speak, and rapid bus in the very distant future. A rapid bus system that would see us creating massive and expensive tunnel infrastructure for, but has already failed TODAY to attract "choice riders" in 13 communities across North America.

The Province Newspaper
recently said in an opinion piece that the thinking of the people with regards to transit solutions have now advanced further than that of our political leaders. How sad and how true. Is it the Peter Principle at work here? That our transportation planners and leaders have reached such a high level of incompetence that they cannot consider the obvious? Mr. van der Kroon's letter has re-sparked my anger today. Let's get passed the smokescreen study mode, and into the action mode. If we need to, let's replace the stale-thinking transportation planners with our local planning and transport students. I think we would gather more creative and modern plans here. Brent Graham, our LRT expert in Melbourne, Australia said that when planning their systems they tapped into the local student base instead of hiring the expensive consultants. He commented that the results were amazing and were promptly put to use! I'd better stop here because I have little tolerance for leaders that fail to lead.

Traffic Concerns

At last yesterday's Special Meeting of Township of Langley Council, council voted to receive this report from Paul Cordeiro, Manager of Transportation Engineering related to resident traffic concerns in the area of 62A Crescent and 240 Street. Paul spoke last month at our South Fraser OnTrax meeting and I'm greatly impressed with his qualifications and the tight ship he runs at TOL.

I include this report because I believe it provides great insight to the average resident as to how the Township staff and Council deal with traffic concerns. Most encouraging is that there is actually a specific process or guidelines for dealing with such cases. As the Executive Summary states, the Township has adopted a "Three E's" approach, which includes Enforcement, Engineering, and Education. The report goes on to outline what has been done in this neighbourhood in all of these Three "E" areas. Paul's office will also research accident and crash data as part of their due diligence process.

The Township transportation engineers have concluded that collision history and other factors do not warrant major re-engineering of the area traffic patterns. So, the neighbourhood can now organize a petition the Township to install some sort of traffic calming solution, if they so desire. Other action items were also provided to the residents. Again, its great to see the process here and how it works.

Councillor Jordan Bateman on Shared Energy/Heating

As reported yesterday, Township Councillor Jordan Bateman presented his Notice of Motion in the Special Council meeting related to shared energy or more specifically, shared heating. As there is public hearing next Monday, this motion will be discussed in the afternoon Special Council meeting. We do hope that council will see the value of this program and embrace it.

Councillor Kim Richter on the Exclusion of Elizabeth May From the TV Debates

Also in yesterday's Special TOL Council meeting, Councillor Kim Richter presented a Notice of Motion that will also be discussed at next Monday's Special Council meeting. Although a copy of the exact wording is unavailable to me, Councillor Richter is requesting that Township Council write a letter to the consortium of Canadian broadcasters expressing displeasure for the consortium's decision to exclude the Green Party candidate (Elizabeth May) from the televised federal debates. I found this interesting Wikipedia profile on May as well.

Although South Fraser OnTrax is a non-partisan society, we do believe strongly in the democratic process and as a group, we have opened our meetings up to people we may agree or disagree with, in the interest of maintaining a health dialogue. So at our meeting this Thursday, our membership will discuss whether or not as a group we also want to write to the consortium and the leadership of the Conservative, NDP, and the Bloc Quebecois to express our joint displeasure at te decision. If for any other reason, we have a very intelligent and informed person here that has a huge degree of environmental expertise. I personally would like to hear what she as to say about transit/transportation and infrastructure here in Canada. How do you feel? Please write comments here and let us know!

Township Transportation Roundtable

With th Federal election campaigns underway and more officials being added to the list of participants, it has now become an impossibility for this roundtable to move forward, as it would be inappropriate for the MP to comment. After the Federal election their is the municiple and then yet another inappropriate situation. Last night Township Council voted to postpone the roundtable until after the municple election. It will now be up to the new council to deal with. This vote was prompted after mayor and council received correspondence regarding this Township event. The writer also stated that South Fraser OnTrax had agreed to not participate in the roundtable.

South Fraser OnTrax would like to publically state that we never said we did no wish to be involved in what is essentially a Township (mayor and council) event, as a motion was passed earlier this year by council. Our thanks to Councillors Fox, Vickberg, Richter and Ferguson for publically stating that any roundtable should be "inclussive". Of course this is only proper and rational.

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