Friday, February 27, 2009

Big Presentation Today In Chilliwack

Today South Fraser OnTrax delivered this presentation to the Fraser Valley Regional District' (FVRD's) Transportation & Transit Technical Working Group (FVRD, Ministry of Transportation, TransLink, BC Transit, Fraser Valley Region Direct, City of Chilliwack, City of Abbotsford and others) this morning as part of a stakeholder meeting for the Fraser Valley rail study that I posted on earlier.

The presentation was delivered by Joe Zaccaria and Township of Langley Councillor Jordan Bateman. South Fraser OnTrax would like to thank Councillor Bateman for several hours of his time in consultation and speaking in Chilliwack today. Some of his research was also very valuable to us. It was a powerful message and seemed well-received by this technical audience of very experienced engineers, municipal planners and related experts.

Evergreen Line Update

In case you haven’t already heard. It looks like the Evergreen SkyTrain is funded, sort of. The federal government has now committed $416.7 million to the project, but TransLink still needs to come up with $400 million from somewhere. As we all know, TransLink is broke. Anyway, you can read the whole story at the Tri-City News:

The line construction is being managed by the province “and we want to get this project going as quickly as possible — and so does the province,” said James Moore, MP for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam.

Campbell vowed the province will build Evergreen “on time” and the work will create 8,000 direct and indirect jobs as well as take 60,000 cars off the road by 2020 by carrying up to 10,000 passengers an hour.

PS: Cost per km of this SkyTrain line is now $127m. Calgary’s new 8.4km West Light Rail Line, which has large sections of tunneling and elevation, is only $83m per km or 65% less costly then the Evergreen SkyTrain. It is slated to start construction this year.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Money for Railways

I purchased Fido’s 3G Internet for my Tablet PC, so I’m blogging on the 502 bus today. Quick plug: Wow, It’s as fast as my Shaw High Speed Internet at home!

Anyway, a friend of mine sent me a great article about the state of railways in America. It gives the history of transportation for the last 100 years and makes to case for federal money for a major renewal of rail infrastructure. It is a long article, but worth the read…
The conventional response to this problem would be simply to build more lanes. That’s what highway departments do. But at a cost of $11 billion, or $32 million per mile, Virginia cannot afford to do that without installing tolls, which might have to be set as high as 17 cents per mile for automobiles. When Virginia’s Department of Transportation proposed doing this early last year, truckers and ordinary Virginians alike set off a firestorm of protest. At the same time, just making I-81 wider without adding tolls would make its truck traffic problems worse, as still more trucks diverted from I-95 and other routes.

Looking for a way out of this dilemma, Virginia transportation officials have settled on an innovative solution: use state money to get freight off the highway and onto rails. As it happens, running parallel to I-81 through the Shenandoah Valley and across the Piedmont are two mostly single-track rail lines belonging to the Norfolk Southern Railroad. Known as the Crescent Corridor, these lines have seen a resurgence of trains carrying containers, just like most of the trucks on I-81 do. The problem is that the track needs upgrading and there are various choke points, so the Norfolk Southern cannot run trains fast enough to be time competitive with most of the trucks hurtling down I-81. Even before the recent financial meltdown, the railroad couldn’t generate enough interest from Wall Street investors to improve the line.

More Winter

Like a good Canadian I decided to post some photos of the weather along the 502 bus route on Fraser Highway last night. It started off with rain end ended in snow…

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tax Time

I was doing my income tax this morning before work (nothing says “fun” like taxes at 5am), and I got to the transit pass credit section. Since I got rid of my car last May, I have collected six months worth of transit passes that add up to a pretty nice tax credit. While the federal government can do a whole lot more to improve the environment and give people transportation choice in urban centres, the tax credit is kind of like a “look at you, you take the bus, how nice, here’s some money.” I do like money and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy, but sadly according to an article in the Toronto Star:

A tax credit intended to encourage public transit use, part of the maiden Tory budget in 2006, will "lead to negligible reductions" in Canada's greenhouse gas emissions and the tools to measure its impact don't yet exist, Scott Vaughn's audit of the government's tools for cutting air emissions found.
There is more work to be done. Anyway, Joe posted about VIA Rail and I got the following message from a friend that just got back from a VIA Rail Cross-Canada Tour:

Yes, we took VIA. It was AWFUL until we hit Toronto, but between there and Quebec City, the train was fast, efficient and comfortable.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More on Urban Space

One of the groups that was responsible for the bring urban planning back to being about people and accessibly is the Congress for the New Urbanism. Anyway, they have a whole section on auto-only roads that have been converted to multimodal roadways or complete roads. I highly suggest that you check out this section of their website. Anyway, I thought the following example was a great picture. The sides of the road (parking/very lcoal traffic/bike and people) are protected from the fast moving centre traffic. Also, the traffic in the centre is allowed to flow free without having to worry about all the uses that are taking place on the sides.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Urban Space

To follow up on my post last week about building urban environments around the pedestrian while still accommodating parking, I took the following photos from the 72nd Avenue and 200th Street intersection in Langley. Besides providing a pedestrian environment, a corner building constructed right up to the sidewalk give a sense of place and a well defined space. In fact, the most important thing you can do when developing a new neighbourhood is to ensure that you have corner buildings like in this example.

So you can do a comparison, I also snapped a picture of the gas station (sadly) across the street to give you an idea of how simply building up to the sidewalk is a powerful space defining tool.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

No Hope for BC Cross Border Commuting?

Apparently the Canadian Federal Government is going to inject some cash into Via Rail that will see "quicker trips" for central Canada. The $407M in new funding leaves everyone guessing what specifically the money will be spent on. Even Via Rail has no solid plans to show anyone.

"But nearly a month after the Harper government announced the $407 million in new funding, the crown corporation in charge of passenger rail service in Canada has not been able to announce a comprehensive outline of how the money will be spent.

"I don't have the plan right now to show to people," said VIA Rail spokesperson Nadia Seraiocco in an interview. "In the next few weeks, our president will talk to us, probably about . . . highlights of the plan so that journalists can have a better idea, and the general population, of what's going on in terms of the investment."

She indicated that the corporation already outlined some of its needs, which include repairs or upgrades to passenger cars."

Here is BC of course, we are still stuck in passenger rail hell. No light rail system in sight, nor any big federal or provincial dollars for that. No money to upgrade any service between the south Fraser and the USA because the Canadian border officials don't like it. Instead of driving to Vancouver and parking my vehicle in a combat zone, I simply drive to Bellingham and catch the AMTRAK to Seattle or Portland. I also park my vehicle in a well-secured AMTRAK parking lot in Fairheaven (Bellingham).  This is having me put my money into the US economy, but then again does the Canadian government give us any options or really care? I blogged about the Canadian federal roadblocks to commuting south of the border at the end of this article last year. We also had several informational posts on the AMTRAK Cascades train service last year as well, so comb the 2008 posts for details. 

Friday, February 20, 2009


The United States Environmental Protection Agency released a report on parking and the environment. The report also suggests Smart Growth management techniques for dealing with parking.

Why does the EPA care about parking? The report states that “research shows that development reflecting smart growth principles can lead to reduced growth in air pollution and less polluted runoff into streams and lakes.” In your typical non-smart growth commercial development parking can take up to 54% of a site. When it rains, all the pollution from the parking lot gets dumped into drains that flow into our streams. When we build our cites around people, air pollution is “reduced because [mixed-use] areas make it easier for some people to choose to walk and bike for some trips, and others will be able to drive shorter distances or take transit.”

Anyway parking isn’t a bad thing, but it is something that we needs to take a closer look at. Malls can have too much parking, while downtown business can have too little. You can read the full report with case studies, but here are some parking management techniques. PS: Parking management is good for business too. Seattle’s “SAFECO also reduced the amount of ground that needed to be paved by 100,000 square feet, leading to less runoff in this rainy area. The company saves an estimated $230,000 per year, after accounting for the costs of incentives and the savings from reducing the amount of parking built.”
In calculating parking requirements, planners typically use generic standards that apply to individual land-use categories, such as residences, offices, and shopping. The most commonly used guidelines, issued by the Institute of Transportation Engineers in the Parking Generation Handbook (ITE, 2004), are based on observations of peak demand for parking at single-use developments in relatively low-density settings with little transit… For more compact, mixed-use, walkable places, these standards end up calling for far more parking than is needed.

Parking Strategies

Context-Specific Requirement: Mixed-use areas require less parking than a low-density, single-use mega-mart store with no transit access. Each site needs to be evaluated differently.

Shared Parking: Office, entertainment and retail have different peak parking demands during the day. In mixed developments this can be accounted for and parking reduced.

Car-Sharing: Car-sharing is a neighborhood-based, short-term vehicle rental service that makes cars easily available to residents on a pay-per-use basis. Members have access to a common fleet of vehicles, parked throughout neighborhoods so they are within easy walking distance, or at transit stations.

Subsidies for Transit: Employer-subsidized transit pass can reduce the need for parking.

Transit Improvements: One of the best ways to reduce the demand for parking is to improve transit service so that it is frequent, convenient, and easy to use.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities: Build them!

Transportation Demand Management Programs: Programs to decrease the number of trips by single-occupant vehicles, sometimes setting goals such as reduced vehicle trips or reduced miles traveled, while increasing the use of a variety of commutingnand travel alternatives, including transit, carpooling, walking, and bicycling.

Pricing Strategies: Use a market-based approach to parking. Reduce demand by charging for it at work and in retail areas.

Centralized Parking, In-Lieu Fees: Centralized parking facilities can meet urban design goals if they allow the elimination of small surface parking lots and driveways that interrupt the walkable fabric of mixed-use areas. Centralized parking enables travelers to park once to visit several destinations, potentially reducing on-street congestion from short trips within an area. Instead of each development building parking, they all pay into a common pool.

Building Parking Around People



Good and Bad

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BC Budget

So the BC government release their 2009/10 budget and three-year outlook yesterday. I wanted to point out the three-year capital spending for transportation projects.

– Gateway program $368m
– Rehabilitation $438m
– Interior and rural side roads $150m
– Oil and gas rural road improvement program $94m
– Mountain pine beetle strategy $90m
– Highway 1 – Kicking Horse Canyon $44m
– Sea-to-Sky highway $44m
– Okanagan Valley corridor $69m
– Cariboo connector program $60m
– Other highway corridors and programs $398m
Total $1755m


– Canada Line Rapid Transit Project $60m
– Evergreen Line $195m
– Rail rapid transit projects $76m
– Buses and other transit priorities $186m
Total $517m

– Airports and ports $24m
– Cycling infrastructure $17m
Total $41m

Total spending $2,313m

As you can see, road building takes up the vast majority of capital spending in the province. What I also think is interesting is the Ministry of Transportation (and Infrastructures) statements on their solutions to climate change and congestion:

Climate Change

Transportation accounts for about 40 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the province; automobiles alone account for 16 per cent and strategies for reducing emissions must entail significant investment in transit infrastructure and services, and cycling facilities. Initiatives are also required to reduce emissions from buses, trucks, trains, planes and ships. The main focus will be on reducing fuel consumption through the development and adoption of new emission standards and through incentives to encourage the deployment of new technologies.

Urban Population Growth
Alternatives to single-occupant vehicle use are required to support the development of denser communities to accommodate urban population growth. The Provincial Transit Plan targets market share for public transit of 17 per cent for metro Vancouver by 2020 and 22 per cent by 2030, up from 12 per cent in 2008, through the provision of a world class transit network. Denser communities will encourage further transit and will facilitate walking and cycling as alternate travel modes. Volatile, but generally rising fuel prices will also change travel behaviour and shift mode preferences away from single-occupant vehicles.
Also interesting is this statement:
The Province has taken the lead on a number of transit planning initiatives that will be used to identify the infrastructure expansion requirements: for the residents of the Fraser Valley, the potential to use the Southern Rail corridor; for residents of Vancouver Island, a Regional Transit Study for Greater Victoria and an assessment of the E&N corridor along the east side of the Island… In addition, the Province and TransLink are co-sponsoring detailed planning work to evaluate alignment and technology options for the UBC Line and the Surrey Expansion.
It seems to me that the Fraser Valley and Surrey are being treated as two different projects. Looking at the providing rail service in Abbotsford and Chilliwack without making it a part of a larger strategy that would include Surrey and Langley would be doomed to be a 2090 Transit Plan.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Calgary LRT Video

As you are aware, Calgary has been building their light rail system out for many years. By 2012, the system will stretch to all corners of their city.

Anyway, I was checking out the West LRT project site, and I came across the following video which I thought might be of interest. It is a 3D route animation of the alignment of their latest light rail line. So geek out and enjoy!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Report Card on Bike Lanes

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) just released an extensive progress report on their Bicycle Master Plan program. SDOT's goal is to make Seattle the most bike-friendly city in the USA. You can read the original Bicycle Master Plan and the two-sided brochure that is the current Bicycle Master Plan Progress Report.

Seattle has embarked on a very impressive increase in the bicycle facilities infrastructure to increase their capacity from 67.6 miles in 2006/2007 to a projected 454.7 miles from 2007-2016 - WOW!

Information on Shared Lane Pavement Marking a.k.a Sharrows
Shared lane pavement markings (or “sharrows”) are bicycle symbols that are placed in the roadway lane indicating that motorists should expect to see and share the lane with bicycles. Unlike bicycle lanes, they do not designate a particular part of the roadway for the use of bicyclists.

What do sharrows mean for motorists and bicyclists?

• Expect to see bicyclists on the street
• Remember to give bicyclists three feet of space when passing
• Follow the rules of the road as if there were no sharrows

• Use the sharrow to guide where you ride within the lane
• Remember not to ride too close to parked cars
• Follow the rules of the road as if there were no sharrows

So what's happening in Langley With Bicycle Transportation?

Well, after years of dealing with bicycle lanes that abruptly end (what I call bike lanes to nowhere), our very own Nathan Pachal who serves on the City of Langley's Parks and Recreation Commission, recently put forth a motion for City Council to consider investing in the bicycle transportation infrastructure. Incidently, newly minted City Councillor Rudy Storteboom who is also an SFOT Board Member serves as Vice-Chair of that same commission. The City also opened the Penzer Bike Park recently and they even have their own blog

In the Township of Langley, Transportation Engineer Paul Cordeiro has been busy for many years with the expansion and upgrading of what the ToL calls the Recreational Bicycle Network (RBN). You can also find a bunch of great maps from the ToL here.

The Township also has an opportunity to complete the trail connection between Walnut Grove and Fort Langley. I live in Walnut Grove and I purchased a quality bike late last year. I'm hoping to make great use of it as the warmer weather arrives, as I am a diabetic and have been working to reduce the amount of insulin I need to take each day. I find cycling to be a great way to unwind and get much-needed physical activity. Like many Walnut Grove residents, I purchased my home there for the bike and walking trails, the mature, tree-lined roadways and the green canopy or forested environment that is The Grove. I sure hope this trail connection is completed soon and I know that many of my neighbours are hoping for the trail completion as well. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

They Don't Call Him Chief For Nothing

Pictures from last night's meeting

I first met Ward Clapham was he was the newly-minted Superintendent of the Richmond RCMP in 2001. I was invited by Dennis Farrell, Deputy RCMP Commissioner (Ret'd) to work with him on the Vancouver Crime Task Force that was launched by the Vancouver Board of Trade. We had the Director of the Justice Institute of BC, a director that was responsible for prisons, former VPD brass, business leaders, etc. We met with a host of judicial and law enforcement officials that included sitting judges, senior police officials, immigration enforcement and many others. We were looking for innovation - a new way for Vancouver to clean up it's act. Our path led us to Superintendent Ward Clapham, a man that Dennis Farrell highly respected as the best cop around.

Fast-forward to July 2008 and Ward Clapham comes out of a short retirement to become the new Chief Officer of Canada's ONLY transit police service. Chief Clapham rolled out a holistic plan in Richmond that included a systematic approach to new policing. He is now doing the very same thing at TransLink, only even in a more exciting way.

If you had to boil down the many key elements, I would say that Chief Clapham wants to put more police officers on the system, in the public eye, and ENGAGING the public. That public includes elderly, youth, homeless, wealthy, criminal, non-criminal. The officer forms relationships with the transit community and helps to deliver services and act as a change agent. The police officer becomes a change agent when he or she impacts the youth to change their ways. To demonstrate this, Chief Clapham talked about him and his officers taking four at-risk youth that were trouble on the transit system to a hockey game one evening instead of taking them to jail.

Chief Clapham wakes us all up when he says that "We are perfectly aligned for the results we are currently getting". He believes that there have been some major shifts in the facxe of crime and criminals that old style policing cannot fully address. The gaps cause us a great deal of problems. Where the old way of policing would be reactive by trying to repair problems and not preparing for success. You achieve a breakthrough when you DEPART from the old ways that are incomplete and move into the more complete area of policing.

The chief talks about bike patrols that offer 3 times the display of manpower (optically to the public) and having officers in the community to re-assure the general public that the system is safe and the areas around stations are protected. It's police officers doing police work to resolve root problems by ending or reducing them. You instill a sense of power into the public to transform them from victims to change agents.

I like Ward's T 3 philosophy to policing. Its simple and it works:




We hope to get updates and materials from Chief Clapham that we can post here from time to time. We have also offered him an open invitation to speak at our public meetings anytime he so desires. Everyone present was excited about the direction TransLink Police are taking, as well as being very impressed with Chief Clapham's credentials and plans.

We were pleased to be visited by John Bakker, President of Transport 2000 British Columbia.

Transport 2000 BC is a non-profit consumer advocacy group concerned with transportation issues in the Canadian province of British Columbia. We advocate for environmentally, economically and socially sustainable transportation options, and help others learn about them. They are part of Transportation Canada.

Also present was my good friend Barry Daniel, Chief Constable (Ret'd) - City of Abbotsford.

Special thanks to the following elected officials that were present and all had a long day:

Mayor Peter Fassbender, City of Langley
Councillor Rudy Storteboom, City of Langley
Councillor Grant Ward, Township of Langley

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great Presentation on Policing in Metro Vancouver

What a great presentation we had tonight from Chief Officer Ward Clapham of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service (TransLink Police). So good, in fact, that we didn’t even get to our regular meeting items. We will cover these items next month, so we don’t have any minutes.

I have posted up the slides from his presentation, but there were some key phrases from Chief Clapham that stuck out to me. In a moment of post modern writing: Proactive, Front Line in the Streets Policing, Neighborhood, Comprehensive, Relationship Building, Justice for the Community, Prevention. The stuff he was talking about really made sense to me and are also things that I believe should be done. For those who know me, I’m not a "full guns blazing, police state" kind of guy. The stuff that Chief Clapham was talking about was prevention, relationship building, and community restorative justice. Joe will be writing in more detail for the blog tomorrow, so I won’t give everything away.

As a note, we normally post audio of all the presentations we host. Due to the sensitive nature of tonight presentation, we don’t have any audio. (We ate it for the greater good.) Again, a big thanks to Chief Officer Ward Clapham for coming out to Langley and delivering a truly refreshing presentation on policing. I am now expecting great things to come out of the TransLink Police Service.

FYI: On the Canada Line, YVR and Bridgeport Stations will be getting Transit Police Service kiosks right in the station on the platform. I believe this is a first in Canada…

Meeting Tonight: Chief Ward Clapham - Translink

Speaker: Chief Ward Clapham, Chief Officer – Metro Vancouver Transit Police
7:00pm – 9:00pm

Township of Langley Municipal Facility
4th Floor, Nicomekl River Meeting Room
20338 – 65 Avenue, Langley

Download a Copy of the Agenda


6:45pm – 7:00pm Self-Registration /Greeting
7:00pm – 7:05pm Introduction of Chief Clapham, Special Speaker
7:05pm – 8:30pm Presentation - Chief Ward Clapham
8:30pm – 8:40pm Q & A With Guest Speaker
8:40pm – 8:45pm Break
8:45pm – 8:50pm Quick Group introductions
8:55pm - 9:00pm Reports
-Financial Report
-State of Advertising / Promotion / Website & Blog/ Help
-Needed/ Fundraising
-Grant Application Status
-New Business

Meeting Adjourned

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Interesting Slides

TransLink recently did a road show to our local governments. Here are some slides from the presentations that I found informative.

On Canada Line

On Golden Ears Bridge

Rail Costs

Also, light rail is still cheaper to operate than bus rapid transit.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sustainable Region

I’ve been sick at home the past few days, so that has given me sometime to do some research. As you may know Metro Vancouver released a Sustainability Report at the end of January. You can download a copy from their site. I want to highlight some of these trends in the report.

-Per capita water use is decreasing and the volume of water delivered has remained relatively constant. That means that if we can keep this trend going, we are keeping our water use sustainable.

-We are still sending harmful toxins into our rivers and oceans via our sewage system. Flame retardants and harmful laundry detergent chemicals are still widely used and concentrations of these contaminants are in wastewater effluent and the waterways.

-We are throwing out more garbage per capita now than 10 years ago. 39% of our waste still goes directly to a landfill. Also of note, multifamily (aka condos) are the least like to recycle (22% ), while 44% of business waste is recycled.

-Thanks to the ALR and the Livable Region Strategic Plan Green Zone. Between 2001 and 2006 the urban footprint of our region did not expand. Rural resident areas are being replaced with more intense development. Each year we lose about 0.1% of ALR farm land. Also since 2006, some land has been removed from our Green Zone. Four types of land make up the Green Zone: watersheds and floodplains; ecologically important lands, such as forests, wilderness areas, wildlife habitat and wetlands; outdoor recreation and scenic lands, such as major parks and recreation areas; and renewable resource lands, such as agricultural and forestry areas.

-Only about 20% of all net housing completions in our region are single family homes. This is a good indicator of compact community design. I should point out that about 38% of all houses are single family in the region. In the South Fraser, Delta and the Township of Langley have the highest amount of single family homes at around 61% while the White Rock and the City of Langley have the most apartment dwellers at about 50%. (2006 Census)

-Since 1996 our distance traveled to work has drop from 7.7km to 7.4km. This trend is different than the rest of Canada. In the same time period, people are choosing to drive less to work in a single occupancy vehicle from 70.6% to 67.3%.

-Our air is generally better than it was in the past. Levels of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and particulates have declined, but concentrations have been relatively constant in recent years. Ozone levels appear to have decreased slightly in the early nineties, but have generally shown an upward trend since that time. Burning fossil fuels causes ground level ozone aka smog.

-We have more park lands today than in the past and the amount of people that take advantage of them has increased.

-Though the current economic time the cost of housing is adjusting, but our region is still becoming less affordable. We also have a shortage of rental units. We have seen a huge increase in our homeless population in the last six years from 1121 to 2660. That is why projects like the Langley Gateway of Hope are important.

-36% of all greenhouse gas emissions are from driving and 30% from buildings in our region. According to this report, the current federal and province plans will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our region must rely on itself to reduce emissions. Documents like the Surrey and Township of Langley Sustainability Charters are important first steps.

-There are 112 species at risk in Metro Vancouver. One a happy note, the amount of tree canopy has not changed significantly in our region.

-The amount of actual farmed land has remained consistent since 1996 and 15.7% of farms in our region are organic. Sadly to support their families, 50% of Metro Vancouver farmers rely on paid work off the farm.

-Per capita energy use in our region is stable. Also, 73% of energy used in our region is from non-green sources like natural gas (heating, driving, power, etc.)

-42% of Metro Vancouver residents volunteer.

We have a lot of good things happening in or region, but we have a much work to do to make our region sustainable and livable for future generations.

From the 1996 Local Government Act

849 (1) The purpose of a regional growth strategy is to promote human settlement that is socially, economically and environmentally healthy and that makes efficient use of public facilities and services, land and other resources.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), to the extent that a regional growth strategy deals with these matters, it should work towards but not be limited to the following:

(a) avoiding urban sprawl and ensuring that development takes place where adequate facilities exist or can be provided in a timely, economic and efficient manner;

(b) settlement patterns that minimize the use of automobiles and encourage walking, bicycling and the efficient use of public transit;

(c) the efficient movement of goods and people while making effective use of transportation and utility corridors;

(d) protecting environmentally sensitive areas;

(e) maintaining the integrity of a secure and productive resource base, including the agricultural land reserve;

(f) economic development that supports the unique character of communities;

(g) reducing and preventing air, land and water pollution;

(h) adequate, affordable and appropriate housing;

(i) adequate inventories of suitable land and resources for future settlement;

(j) protecting the quality and quantity of ground water and surface water;

(k) settlement patterns that minimize the risks associated with natural hazards;

(l) preserving, creating and linking urban and rural open space including parks and recreation areas;

(m) planning for energy supply and promoting efficient use, conservation and alternative forms of energy;

(n) good stewardship of land, sites and structures with cultural heritage value.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mufford Overpass

There has been lots of talk lately about the proposed Mufford Overpass. For those who don’t know, it’s a proposed overpass and road between Mufford Crescent on the west and 216 Street and 64 Avenue on the east. There will be no connection to Glover Road. Also it will be built to handle double tracking.

Shipping levels have decreased with the global downturn, but the plans were to put up to 30% more freight trains on the route by 2012. I think that will be happening at a later time now, but be sure that there will be more trains in the future. Even at today’s level, we should have grade separated crossings at 200th Street and Fraser Highway. Don’t get me wrong, trains are the best way to move goods for our environment and for the urban form of our region. As I’ve blogged about earlier, we need to move away from long-haul trucking. I don’t want to see Langley turn into a community of ugly overpasses. I’d like to see the freight traffic re-routed on the main lines by the Fraser River. I and many others tried to lobby the federal government that this was the way to go. Our MP, Mark Warawa, ever promises an alternate rail study to get the Delta-port trains out. That was back in April 2006. The federal government seems very uninterested in getting these trains out of Langley or fixing the crumbling Fraser River Bridge in New Westminster. They want the trains to go through Langley. If citizens made their voices known on this issue, there might be change, but that hasn’t happened. So that leaves us with overpasses.

There has been much talk lately about alignment and take-it-or-loss it funding. A quick search on Google will keep you busy. I will add my two cents on the overpass discussion. The ALR said:
submission of a strategy ensuring farm activities are not limited or disturbed by human activity newly introduced by the project (which) may involve limiting cycling or pedestian paths, or providing them with landscaped buffering to enhance agriculture

-Bike lanes should be included in this plan, as it will provide opportunity those in urban Longley to explore rural Langley in a way with least impact.

-The overpass over Glover will act as Gateway into Langley. Our elected officials owe us to make it attractive. We seem to be so used to ugly infrastructure in Canada.

-Any road (and even light rail) improvement will add development pressure along its route. Citizens and councils with have to be vigilante to ensure that we don’t end up with another Langley Bypass. BTW: the Bypass happens to be the most non Smart Growth, inaccessible (no transit routes or sidewalks), and ugliest route in the Langleys.

Anyway I was encouraged when I saw the following paragraph in a recent letter from the City of Langley to the Township.

…the City of Langley recognizes the significant impact of heavy rail traffic on our communities and especially through the City of Langley. We will continue to work with the Township of Langley to lobby the Government o f Canada, the Province, and TransLink on this issue. In addition, we remain committed to the exploration of other transportation options including the extension of SkyTrain, street level LRT and community rail from Surrey to Langley and beyond.

Notice there was no mention of rapid bus. :-)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Shameless Plug

South Fraser OnTrax board member, Bruce Dougall, appeared in last Friday’s Langley Advance. Bruce is a talented musician, and has been playing trumpet for more than 40 years. Check out the Advance’s website and click on the “Slideshow: What a Gig...” to her a sample of his music.

Now to make this plug less shameless, culture is an important part of building sustainable communities. In fact, building with Smart Growth principal can help foster a community’s sense of place and local arts scene. So, there you have it!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Rant

Yesterday, I saw a picture of the new Port Mann Bridge (it’s been in all the papers) and it brought back memories of the 401 in Toronto. I was going to write a post about how the Port Mann Bridge/Highway 1 widening project will need to go for another Environmental Assessment Process which would mean that construction on Highway 1 will be going on right during the Olympic Games, but...

In the last 5 years the BC government and TransLink have spent $200 million on the seven-lane Pitt River Bridge, $800 million on the six-lane Golden Ears Bridge, $1 billion on the four-lane 40km South Fraser Perimeter Road Freeway, $96 million on the Highway 10 four-laning, $124 million on the Highway 15 four-laning, $65 million on Highway 91/91A interchange improvements, and now $3 billion on the Port Mann 10-lane bridge and widening of Highway 1 to about 8-10 lanes. All totaled that’s about $5.3billion dollars on roads. These roads are mostly going to impact the South Fraser Region.

Meanwhile on the Transit front, $2 billion has been spent on the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Canada line and the $1.4 billion might be spent on Evergreen line (if it ever gets funding.) All totaled that about $3.4 billion dollar on transit. These transit improvements are going to do very little for people in the South Fraser. What are we getting in the South Fraser? Bus Rapid Transit on Highway 1 which isn’t very good news. It could lock our region out of good rapid transit for a generation.

As an aside, this quote in the Vancouver Sun was a bit amusing:

TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said it was the first time in at least 20 years that buses will be back on the Port Mann Bridge. They haven't been used on the bridge because of congestion-caused delays.
Because a.) a queue-jumper lane could have been built like is done at the Massey Tunnel, and b.) buses were removed from the Port Mann because of the introduction of SkyTrain service. Anyways…

Whether you support or hate the Gateway Program, the BC government has been building roads like nobody's business (I think since the 1980’s, but I can’t remember as I was born in that decade). Though, for some reason, the bridges that are in the direst need of replacement (Fraser River Rail Bridge and Pattullo Bridge) aren’t being touch. Also, as the recent Pattullo Bridge closure pointed out, there is no alternative to the automobile for many people in the South Fraser. The governments need to step up in a big way if they want to get people out of their cars and keep our planet alive. A world class public transit system that would support Smart Growth planning (happening at the municipal level today) must be built because building roads (that don’t give equal access to all modes of transportation) will not get people out of their cars.

So, let gets build transit today. There has been much talk about building a balanced transportation system that leaves about $2 billion to spend on transit. Do I hear a light rail vehicle coming into Downtown Langley?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Talk of Super Bridge

In today's Province newspaper Kent Spencer talks about the possibility of a single "super bridge" to replace the 45 year old Port Mann Bridge as I had blogged about the other day. Spencer writes

"For the past 20 years there have been no dedicated bus lanes on the Port Mann.

The government last week agreed to borrow $500 million to assist a group of private companies hired to build the bridge and operate it afterwards.

Tolls are set to be $3 each way. The bridge is scheduled to be completed in 2013."

I think we need to replace aging infrastructure and Nathan does as well. I do like the Portland model of providing transit options BEFORE building a news bridge, but again, this is a replacement. One could debate the need for 10 lanes, but I worry more about the roads that feed this bridge now and in the future. As many have pointed out, there never seems to be stopped traffic on the bridge itself. The traffic congestion occurs along Hwy. 1 and the various feeder roads in Surrey. Is the MoT willing and able to expand that infrastructure to support the new bridge?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Next Meeting

Translink's top cop talks safety The Transit Police’s Chief Officer, Ward Clapham, will be speaking about current safety and security issues around Metro Vancouver’s transit assets and how his department plans to address transit security heading into 2010 and beyond; combating these issues.

We will be hosting this meeting at the Township of Langley Municipal Hall on Thursday, February 12 between 7:00pm to 9:00pm. After his presentation, there will be a rare opportunity for the general public to engage in a dialogue with transit’s top cop about their questions and concerns.


Chief Officer Ward Clapham, South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service Presentation by Office Ward about transit safety and security in Metro Vancouver, and how his force plans to address security heading into 2010 and beyond. Followed by a question and answer period.

Thursday, February 12, 209 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Nicomekl River Meeting Room
Township of Langley Civic Facility
4th Floor 20338-65 Avenue Langley , BC

Mark your calendar!

Monday, February 2, 2009

News Brief

There was an interesting article in the Toronto Star about public transit in, you guest it, Toronto. Anyway, Toronto has some big plans for transit including a light rail project called Transit City. The only item that is being built right now is the Spadina Subway Extension.

Anyway, the article in The Star interviewed one of the engineers on the project. He hails from the UK. He comments on road pricing and how far Canada is behind in public transit.
Our inadequate public transit system also provides a convenient justification for politicians to argue against taking down the Gardiner Expressway and other such moves. Even Toronto Mayor David Miller has been known to use this excuse.
But we have reached the point where even Premier Dalton McGuinty is speaking about the "fundamental challenges" faced by the province's increasingly creaky economy. Our sagging competitiveness results from the same outdated thinking that fails to recognize the importance of transit.

Still, Toronto and the GTA are waiting for money they need to catch up. And the fact is that funding won't be forthcoming any time soon. So we have reached the point where economic priorities and environmental imperatives are one and the same.
Meanwhile in an opinion piece in The Star...
There's good reason for municipalities to dread devils that may be lurking in the federal budget's details. Ottawa's previous attempt at infrastructure spending – the lamentable Building Canada Fund – served only to tantalize cities while starving them of help.
Finally, the National Post has a story titled "Large P3 projects may not make the grade". It talks about how the two year spend-it-or-lose-it federal infrastructure funding will make it hard for many P3’s to get off the ground. It also talks about how the credit crunch has dried up P3 money.
Despite the Port Mann glitch, Mr. Falcon is optimistic that other P3 projects will proceed, and has identified the Evergreen transit project, mentioned in the federal budget, as a possible contender. "There's a substantial financial commitment by taxpayers -- $800-million -- to move the project forward, and it's my understanding from experts in the P3 world that this makes it an attractive project," says Mr. Falcon.