Thursday, December 31, 2009

Two years and waiting...

As this decade draws to a close, there is one wish that I have for the next one; sustainable transportation options for the South Fraser region. Back in early 2008, then Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon promised to study light rail options for the South Fraser region. This promised study changed its scope from the South Fraser to Fraser Valley Regional District by late 2008. In February 2009, South Fraser OnTrax delivered a presentation to the FVRD study group and was told the study would be ready by December. Still no word on this study and still no light rail study for the South Fraser.

We have come far in raising awareness of the lack of quality transit options in the South Fraser this decade, the ball is now in the Province's court to do something about it in the coming decade.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Citizens Conservation Councils on Climate Action Report

Around Christmas Eve, the province released a report from the Citizens’ Conservation Councils on Climate Action. The report didn’t receive much press coverage, but I wanted to highlight some of the recommendations in the report.

The council is highly supportive of the carbon tax, and recommends that is continues. It also recommends that zero/low-emission vehicles and higher-emission vehicles should be licensed under one license to promote the use of zero/low-emission vehicles in many parts of BC where higher-emission vehicles may be needed during the winter. The council recommends providing incentives to allow for home energy-saving retrofits. The Province’s LiveSmartBC had such a plan, but it has been canceled.

The council recommends that climate action plans be developed on a region-by-region bases and recommended the following for Metro Vancouver:
Reduce the convenience of single occupancy vehicle travel
Government should promote alternative transportation options beyond transit through programs such as carpool services, bike rental programs, and car co-op programs. Government can also make single vehicle occupancy less convenient by:
1) Encouraging the installation of parking meters in all commercial areas;
2) Reducing highway speed limits; and
3) Encouraging local governments to create more transit only lanes.

Develop or support incentives to encourage people to live closer to their place of employment
Government can help encourage people to live closer to their place of employment by:
1) Working with financial institutions to provide incentives such as location specific mortgages to make it easier for people to purchase housing close to their place of employment; and
2) Using fiscal incentives to encourage businesses to locate in places close to housing suitable to the average income of their staff,
3) and encourage businesses to provide financially competitive alternative transportation

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Light Rail Ottawa

We have been following the story of what was once called the BRT capital of North America; Ottawa's change to light rail technology. This started in 2001 with an 8km diesel light rail line. This pilot project was a huge success and because of that the City of Ottawa is now committed to light rail.

Over the last year, they finalized their new $2.1 billion light rail plan which includes: 12.5 km of new electrified light rail and a 3.2 km long twin tunnels under the city’s downtown core.
“The flexibility of the LRT system is a good fit for Ottawa’s transit needs in and outside the core,” said Transit Committee Chair Councillor Alex Cullen. “LRT can achieve the high capacities needed on grade-separated track and provide service outside the core by operating at-grade with vehicular and pedestrian traffic."
On December 18th, the Province of Ontario committed $600 million to the project and according to the CBC, it appear the federal government will be matching that:
Ottawa's light rail project could receive a funding commitment from the federal government early in 2010, says federal transport minister John Baird.

Baird said Wednesday there is already hundreds of millions available for the project, but he and other Ottawa-area MPs will "go to bat" to get more.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Separated Bike Lane in Victoria

I am in Victoria today enjoying the holidays, but I thought I would post some pictures. One of the things that I am a big supporter of is separated bike lanes. In Victoria, they have an extensive network of separated bike lanes and paths. I happen to be staying at a friend's house who lives right next to one of these lanes. Wouldn’t it be great to see something like this in the South Fraser?

Interesting to people in Langley is that horses also use the lane and as you can tell, they don’t clean up after. Apparently, this is an on going problem.

This can be a hazard for cyclists and I believe that is one of the issues that will need to be worked out as Langley builds its trail and bike network.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Holidays


I will be taking a bit of a break from blogging for the next few weeks due to Christmas Holidays. I will continue to post up information during that time, mostly focusing on our upcoming Sustainability on the Edge Forum.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quick Update on Sustainability Forum II

Great news! We have confirmed the last two speakers for our Sustainability on the Edge Forum. TransLink will be delivering a presentation on Transit Oriented Development, along with Gordon Price, the Director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University. They will also be sitting on a panel for Q&A time after their presentation, together with keynote speaker Councilor Carlotta Collette from Metro Portland, and Township of Langley Staff. It is not everyday that an event like this comes together. I am very excited for January 12th.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick Update on Sustainability Forum

I hope everyone had a good weekend and is enjoying the snow. I thought I would give you a quick update on our January sustainability forum. We have confirmed that we will have special keynote speaker Councilor Carlotta Collette from Metro Portland. She will be speaking one “sustainability on the edge” in Portland and what successes and challenges Metro Portland has had in making their edge communities sustainable. You can read more about her on Metro’s website. We will also have staff from the Township of Langley on hand to answer any questions on sustainability in Langley, and have confirmed Councillor Jordan Bateman as the moderator for the event. We are also working on getting two other greater speakers for the forum, and I will post who once it is confirmed.

In the meantime, you should mark your calendars for Tuesday, January 12th starting at 7pm at the Township of Langley Hall. It is not very often an event like this happens in Langley.

Friday, December 11, 2009

More fun with the ALC

As you may be aware, I have spent the better part of the year trying to get statistics and copies of Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) decision from the last 10 years. As I blogged about in August, the ALC wants a large sum of money to produce this information. I wrote them back outlining that this information should be freely public under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Ac (FIPPA), just like every other government body. Anyway, they wrote back and told me that they would not waive the fee, but that I could go down to the ALC offices and look at the decisions. If I want a copy of the decisions, I am to let them know at that time. They will then adjust the fee based on the documents that I request. I have been trying for the last three weeks to contact someone at the ALC, but I have been hitting a brick wall. At the same time, I’ve launch an official complaint with the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia as I believe charging a fee for this kind of information inappropriate under section 75 of the FIPPA….

The drama continues…

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Picture of the Day

This is looking at Guildford Town Centre from the roof of the Sheraton Hotel (I took this last week.) Doesn't this just scream urban retrofit!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Life Exists Beyond the Bridge

Did you ever notices that people that live on the “other side of the bridge” rarely venture over to the South Fraser? I have family that refuses to visit me because I live in Langley, which to them could be Kamloops, Kelowna, or Calgary. Of course, I’m expected to visit them regularly in Vancouver. The same can be said of people that used to live in the South Fraser. I have a few friends that used to live out this way and ever since moving to Vancouver, refuse to come out this way. It almost seems like there is something in the air that prevents people from seeing that there is more to this region than just the Burrard Peninsula. I’ve been reading Douglas Coupland’s City of Glass (a great book BTW), and I think this map from the book speaks volumes.

People either think that the South Fraser is only single family housing or farms (I do like the farms.) What is really scary is that I’ve talked to some people that are making the plans for our region that have only seen the South of Fraser on a map. I took one of these types on a tour once, and he was surprised that we had complete communities like Downtown Langley or that there was mixed use in Walnut Grove. I think that this is real reason why we have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to transit funding. People have no idea what is out here. Maybe the local governments in the South of Fraser should invest in a campaign to let people in “Metro Vancouver” know that there is indeed a civilization of 500,000+ people out here… Maybe then, we will get the transit we deserve.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

TOD in Willowbrook?

As reported on Langley Politics, I want to highlight a presentation by Aplin & Martin Consulting, on behalf of Berezan Management, on Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in Willowbrook. Joe Zaccaria, co-founder of SFOT, was at last night’s Township of Langley Council meet and saw the presentation. He was very excited about the possibility of this kind of development in Langley. This kind of development would further add to already strong case that rapid transit be brought into Langley. Also, this kind of development would allow us to try things out like a central heating district which would help reduce GHG emissions. If it was successful in Willowbrook, it could be rolled out to other areas in Langley. Getting TOD development is key to the sustainability of Langley and SFOT fully supports this kind of development.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cycling Update in Langley

Due to the recent creation of the Langley Area Cycling Coalition, some of us have been heading to the Langley Municipal Halls to hear about what our local governments are doing to improve cycling. While many of the details are being worked on, one item will be required: funding. Funding will be the key to improving cycling in our area. While finding funding can be challenging at times, we are lucky that cycling infrastructure is something that our local governments have direct control over. Because of that, I’m very positive that we will see better cycling in Langley.

Today we had a meeting with staff at the Township of Langley. There are a few things that I took away from that meeting. You would think that improving cycling in older neighborhoods like Brookswood and Aldergrove would be a major expense. Thought as both these neighborhoods are older, they are likely to be redeveloped over the next 20 -30 years. As redevelopment occurs, cycling infrastructure can be improved as part of the redevelopment process with something call DCCs (Developer Cost Charges). It turns out that the most costly areas to improve will be Walnut Grove and Murrayville. These areas were build out starting in the 1990’s and will not redeveloped for a long time. You basically have to retrofit cycling into these neighborhoods which has an expense.

Also interesting is that the new 202nd Street underpass for the new Langley Park and Ride will including cycling lanes and bike parking at the Park and Ride lot. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Next Langley Area Cycling Coalition Meeting

The newly formed Langley Area Cycling Coalition requests your support and involvement to create a network of cycling trails and routes throughout the Langleys. If you would like to learn more about this exciting project, please attend their upcoming meeting to share your ideas and visions with other like-mined cyclists. Working together, we can make cycling in the Langleys safer, convenient, and more enjoyable. Contact Richard or Dan at for more information. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 8th starting at 7pm
WC Blair Recreation Centre
22200 Fraser Highway

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quick Update

One of the good things about TransLink is that it is a regional transportation authority. Basically it allows us to have an easy to use, consistent system. It also helps because we can plan and provide transportation from a regional perspective which is very important. Traveling in many places in the US, I can see how confusing and inefficient multiply agencies serving the same region can be. Anyway, I found this interesting article about Detroit and how that region is looking at creating a regional transit agency.
President Barack Obama has made it clear: Regions that don’t cooperate will lose federal aid. So it’s important for the city of Detroit to join Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties now in pushing a plan to create a regional transit authority. Without it, the city and region will be in no spot to compete for federal funds in the next six-year transportation bill. Protect what we have? Bump that. Let’s go out and get something bigger and better.
In other news, it looks like Surrey will be bus shelter-free this winter.
Two hundred and sixty bus shelters in this city have been removed to make way for new ones. But the plan has some people wondering what transit riders are to do during the wettest and coldest days of the year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Steel Bridge

This has to be one of the coolest bridges on the West Coast. It is the Steel Bridge that crosses the Willamette River in Portland, OR. There are a few reasons why this bridge is so amazing.

First, it was built in 1912 in is still heavily used today. Unlike our 100+-year-old New Westminster Rail Bridge, this structure is double-tracked and does not have the deadly corners like our rail bridge. Secondly, this bridge is a amazing example of how private and public interests can work together. The bridge is owned by Union Pacific Railroad, with the lower deck reserved for heavy rail. There is also a multiuse path on the lower deck that is a key link for Portland's active transportation network. The top deck is leased to the Oregon Department of Transportation, who in turn sub-leases a part to TriMet. What this mean is that the bridge is used by Portland's light rail system, road network, cycle network, and pedestrian network. It is a true multi-modal wonder! Also, the lower deck can be lifted independent of the upper deck. I wonder why we have never seen anything like this in BC?