Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Comments From City of Abbotsford Mayor and Council

As Nathan has said, he and I have been attending the Inter Regional Transportation Select Committee in the City of Abbotsford. I was present in the city council meeting at 1:00pm yesterday. The response from mayor and council was very positive. I took notes on their comments and have included them here. Consider these a paraphrase of what was said, although I tried my best to record word for word:

We must have a vision and dream big dreams. This is very similar to our Plan A and our new Community Recreation Centre that we just opened. I see that the federal government under the new transportation minister will be throwing money at transportation infrastructure. We need to get provincial buy-in to this plan if we are to realize any of those federal dollars. We must get our MLA's support with regards to this initiative.

- Mayor George Ferguson

In response to the mayor's comments, Councillor Lynne Harris who was very instrumental in this committee work, along with Councillor Dave Loewen pointed out that MLA John van Dongen had originally suggested something like this committee to gather that support and a plan that he could take to the provincial government. It should be noted that this MLA and his staff have worked very hard on transit issues.

This transportation plan shows great vision. The recommendations put our community first and then addresses and incorporates our regional transportation needs. I would like to see this report go to our Economic Development Commission (EDC). We must set aside these transit corridors NOW! Before the densification plans came to full light, I had been laughed at in the past. But people aren't laughing any more. Business people in Abbotsford and others in our community need to travel west. They cannot be expected to wait in Vancouver for the return West Coast Express all day long.

- Councillor Patricia Ross

The committee has done some great work here and this is a good report. I'm wondering why we aren't connecting better with the West Coast Express (WCE) and making better use of that? I like the districts outlined in the presentation and I like the way it speaks to connecting nodes where people need to connect with. I beleive we do need a north-south connector with the hospital as was added into the plan.

- Councillor Christine Caldwell

I'm concerned with this report's Recommendation # 4 and also the 2010 due date for this demonstration. From the latest census we can see clearly that 2/3 of our population live and work here in our community. So, I want to see this transportation plan first serve the 80% of residents who live and work here. About 8,000 our our residents travel outside of Abbotsford daily, in addition to those who may travel to sports and recreation events outside of our city. I would want to see a rail system that serves our airport (YXX), our new hospital and cancer centre, and the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) that I see as vital to our community and I would favour this routing over an interurban. I like the horseshoe concept and want to see that first, before we look outside of Abbotsford. We are hearing much these days about the 100 mile diet and we also need to consider the 10 mile career.

- Councillor Bruce Beck

Recommendation #4:
-Support for and possibly host a potential demonstration project in Abbotsford for light rail in conjunction with the Vancouver 2010 Olympic demonstration project.

Councillor Lynne Harris pointed out that in serving YXX, we need to consider the regional transit needs and connection requirements. She also pointed out that although the committee looked at an improved connection to the West Coast Express (WCE). Councillor Patricia Ross also spoke to the WCE concept and talked of the challenges to providing more trains - can't do it. So, this light rail system would connect with Surrey and provide another option.

We all know the Fraser Valley is growing tremendously and Surrey will surpass Vancouver in population. This report and the recommedations are very good. I'd like to see the decision-makers be consumers of public transit. If they were consumers of transit we would see far better service and options. I was recently in Spain and was astounded by the amount of public transit use by the citizens and the range and frequency of service available.

- Councillor Simon Gibson

I hope we don't overlook or loose the value of this framework. This report and the recommendations are a valuable tool when we meet with the provincial and federal governments, as well as the new federal transportation minister. McCallum Road is important to our community. The MLA and MP should get encouraged by this plan. If feel an important next step is to talk with our western neighbours.

- Councillor Dave Loewen

As of this writing on Tuesday morning we are awaiting word from Councillor Lynne Harris as to the status of her motion that we believe was voted on last night in council. We will report back to you soon.

Brian Lewis of The Province wrote a column in today's paper about this. Read the full article on their website.

This committee was formed in early 2008, due in part to the disappointment stemming from the Campbell government's $14-billion transit plan that more or less kissed off the Fraser Valley despite the region's explosive growth.

"Our report is fairly visionary and, for many people, it's out-of-the-box thinking," says Coun. Lynne Harris, who is the committee's chair.

Basically, the committee report has four key recommendations:

1. It protects Abbotsford's existing key transportation corridors which link the University of the Fraser Valley, the new Entertainment and Sports Complex, downtown, the business district, Abbotsford International Airport and the new Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre.

2. It endorses regional transit principles outlined in the Livability Accord which Langley, Abbotsford, Surrey and Coquitlam signed last year to co-ordinate their robust growth.

3. It recommends formation of a light rail committee to include mayors and councillors from the entire South Fraser region.

4. And it recommends a light-rail demonstration project in Abbotsford in time for the 2010 Olympics.

No comments: