Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Nicomekl Floodplain
Just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas! I'll be taking a blogging break, but will be back on Monday, January 3rd 2011.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Audio Files

Yesterday morning, I was on the Early Edition on CBC Radio One talking about the recently released Fraser Valley Regional District Transit Study. I've provided a link to the Player for you to have a listen. The interview starts around the 2 hour mark.

Also, be sure to check out part two of the chat Joe and I had with our friend Michael Thorne from The Real Estate Coffee Shop below.
In this week’s episode Michael Thorne continues his conversation with Joe Zaccaria and Nathan Pachal of South Fraser on Trax. They discuss the inter-urban line, light rail and sky train as well as the recent conference presented by South Fraser on Trax entitled “Sustainability on the Edge”.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Public Transportation on the Edge and Personal Choices

Driving our own personal vehicles costs more than just the gas we buy to keep it going.

I am not against the auto and we will always have it in some form, but in a lot of cases we do not have any other choice but to buy and maintain a vehicle for every member in the family. This "convenience" comes at a high price:

-Traffic jams
-Finding parking and paying for parking
-Paying extra for goods since merchants pay for huge parking lots
-Injuries and deaths caused by accidents
-Paying more for health care due to pollution, obscenity, and injuries

Walking to public transportation and riding bicycles gives us many beneficial advantages: mentally, physically, socially, and observing some drivers maybe spiritually as well.

It is interesting to me that when the Provincial government wants to put in new roads, they call this an investment. However when the public asks for better public transportation to give us transportation choice, we are told we will have to pay for this at a local level. By the way, the cost to each household a year in Metro Vancouver who be $36 extra to improve public transportation and cycling in the South of Fraser. $36 is worth it for transportation choice, but maybe if we didn't putting all our money into roads we won't even need to pay $36 extra a year in the first place.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eliza Olson - A BC Treasure

Apart from our advocacy for better transit, smart growth and sustainability, we need to take time out to honour the hero's of change among us. Earlier this year South Fraser OnTrax was blessed to spend a couple of hours with Eliza Olson. Eliza has been the president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society for the past 22 years. Her and 19 other concerned citizens formed this society in 1988.

After spending her career was an educator, Eliza, now in her 70's, continues to be a true BC treasure in advocating for the preservation of Burns Bog. If one can ignore the delicate ecosystem of the bog and all of its, unique flora and fauna, you can't ignore the fact that these peatlands are "the Lungs of the Lower Mainland". The bog acts as an air filter and also provides oxygen. Acting as a "carbon sink", the bog turns CO2 into organic materials.

Thanks to Eliza and the others, Burns Bog is a rich outdoor classroom as kids from all over take in the numerous educational programs offered in the bog.

Eliza Olson has been selected as one of ten finalists by the CBC for their "Champions of Change" contest. You can vote for Eliza here and we very much encourage you to do so. If she wins, the Burns Bog Conservation Society will receive $25,000.

The CBC list of 10 is very impressive and all deserve recognition. We hope you will consider casting your vote for Eliza Olson who has given freely many years of her life to protect Burns Bog and our air quality.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fraser Valley Transit Study Released - Transit Service in Abbotsford Sucks!

Without much fanfare, the Strategic Review of Transit in the Fraser Valley Report was released last Thursday. For those that remember, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon promised in 2008 to study the Interurban from Delta to Chilliwack. This changed to a long-term study of transit in the Fraser Valley Regional District. The report does not recommend any rail based transit beyond the West Coast Express in Mission. What does the report recommend? Express Buses that connect Abbotsford to Metro Vancouver. I invite you to read the full report for the list of local community transit investments, but I wanted to point on some key findings.

First is the amount of transit service hours in the Fraser Valley. The Fraser Valley has the least amount of service hours of any large region in BC. In Kelowna and Kamloops, there is 1.75 service hours of transit per capita. In Metro Vancouver, there is 2.5 service hours per capita. The Fraser Valley has 0.4 service hours per capita. Of course, you get what you pay for. While the average taxpayer contributes $26 dollar per year to transit via property tax in Kelowna and Kamloops, in Abbotsford they pay $14 and in Chilliwack $9. Transit is cost shared almost 50/50 with the Province, so you can do that math. In Metro Vancouver where there is no help from the Province, the average taxpayer contributes $130 per year to transit. So with only $30 of transit tax per capita in Abbotsford, it's no surprise that transit sucks there.

Step one is for the local government to bite the bullet and pay for their fair share of transit. We can talk about the rest of the recommendation if that happens.

Also interesting are the travel patterns. There is a strong link between Langley and Abbotsford. In fact, it is stronger than the link between Vancouver and Langley.

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Lanes of Langley

The following pictures where taken today on my walk to the Langley Centre Bus Loop through Downtown Langley. McBurney Lane and Fenton Lane provide a pedestrian corridor between Douglas Park and the Bus Loop.

Douglas Park and Spirit Square

New Condos on Douglas Crescent by Douglas Park

McBurney Lane

Fenton Lane

Thursday, December 16, 2010

From the Field

As I was talking about yesterday, community building is always better when you involve the community. Our very own Joe Zaccaria is currently helping out with a project to redevelop 1941 era social housing at Waterman Gardens in San Bernardino, CA. The following video is of Joe facilitating a design charrette residents group.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Public Consultation

I was thinking about what makes a successful community plan and came to the conclusion that it takes the community, duh! For example, the Aldergrove Community Plan started with asking people what they liked about their community and what they would like to see changed. It also educated the community members involved on tools to get the community that they want. Not surprising, they ended up with a mix of housing types and a mixed-used downtown core. Of course you will always have people who object to change when you start implementing a plan, but you can feel confident because you have the support of the majority of the community.

I contrast this to the infill option that the City of Langley was exploring for the single family residential area south of the Nicomekl River. Instead of asking people what they liked and want to improve in the neighbourhood, they said “we want to increase density in your neighbourhood.” Of course this got killed before it even started. I’m sure if the City started with the basic questions and involved the community from day one, everyone would have arrived at the same point. When a local government goes out and says, “we are building high-rises on 200th Street”, you end up with emotional, irrational knee-jerk reaction. When a local government goes out and says, “how can we make a great community?”, you get a great community that might even include high-rises.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Transit Facts

I thought I would share some fun facts that I learned about TransLink and the cost of providing service. TransLink has been working on their service optimization plan and their most recent schedule changes reflects this. The good thing is that in this optimization process they kept some routes that would be considered underperforming like the new 364 and 388 routes as TransLink wants to give the routes time to mature. If they went solely on performance metrics, I’m certain that many more routes would have been cut back in the South of Fraser. BTW: the 502 route (which I take) is the most over-crowded bus in the South of Fraser.

If you were wondering, it costs $118 an hour to keep a regular bus running and $48 an hour to keep a community shuttle running. In total, a regular bus costs on average costs $646,000 per year to operate. For a route like the 502, it costs something like $4 million a year to run! This is good to remember when you hear people say silly things like “all TransLink needs to do is use their old buses to improve service.”

Another interesting fact is that the cost of operating a bus is 80% labour. That includes the driver and the mechanics that keep the buses in working order.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stats on Energy Use

I was roaming across the Internet and found a blog that was talking about how buses are less efficient than cars because they are always empty. The author suggested that transit was therefore pointless, a waste of money, and the private auto was the solution. Yeah, anyway... I thought I'd do a little research of my own. The US Department of Energy has a 385 page book called "Transportation Energy Data Book". On page 64, there is a chart on vehicle energy efficiency. BTU's per vehicle mile for an "average" car in 2008 was 5,465 and 6,830 for a light-truck. An average bus is 39,906 BTU's per vehicle mile. I talked to TransLink and they told me that "our research and analysis found that the average system-wide capacity utilization over a 24 hour period is approximately 84% i.e. over a given time period 84% of the seats we supply are being used by customers." Let's be very conservative and use the number of 44 seats per bus. The does not include the longer articulated buses. So that's 36 seats on every bus on average being filled. Do some quick math and we get the number of 1109 BTU's per passenger mile on a bus.

Metro Vancouver BTU's per Passenger Mile
SOV Car: 5,465
SOV Light Truck: 6,830
Transit Bus: 1,109

So maybe in a small town cars many be more efficient, but in large region like our there really is no comparison.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Picture of the Week - Surrey Central City

This building is the symbol of the change that Surrey (heck, it's even in the City's logo) is undergoing from low-density Dullsville to a true urban centre in the region.

View Larger Map

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How Donald Shoup Will Find You a Parking Spot

One of the interesting things I hear when talking about road pricing is that it is part of some pinko communist conspiracy to get them our of their cars. This couldn't be further from the truth. Road pricing is about making best use of the limited resource called the road. In fact, our current transportation system is the result of heavy government intervention from zoning and mortgage insurance to "free" highways. Of course nothing is free, with roads we pay with our time. The following video is on pricing parking and is from the Reason Foundation who's slogan is free minds and free markets. Shoup talks about how "free" parking is hidden into the cost of everything we do and how it should be brought out into the open. Here is a great quote from the video, "The cost we pay for free parking is somewhere between MediCare and National Defence".

Conversations That Drive You Buggy - Engineers

Sometimes in our own little professional worlds we use jargon or alphabet soup that we fully understand, but that confuses the masses. My friend Dan Burden shared this one this week and I just had to post it. Have you ever had a discussion with an engineer?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fraser River Rail Bridge - Congestion

As I've blogged about before, one of the priorities for goods movement in this region is the replacement of the 1904 Fraser River Rail Bridge. This has been identified by many groups like the Gateway Council and Port Metro Vancouver as an A1 priority, yet the federal government has done nothing about it. Besides freight, it also prevents the expansion of passenger rail service. BNSF, CN, CP, and Southern Rail's tracks all converge on this single tracked bridge that must be taken at a speed of 15km/h for fear of the thing failing and falling into the river. On top of that river traffic has priority over rail traffic, so whenever a barge comes to the bridge, it must be open. On Sunday, I personally experienced how bad the congestion is.

The Amtrak train I was on pulled up to the bridge and had to stop to let a CN train pass. After that, the bridge had to be opened for river traffic. As two barges went under the bridge another CN train cued on the opposite side of the bridge. Luckily after the two barges were clear of the bridge and it was put back into service, the Amtrak train was let through. All this took about 35min.

With all the money the federal government has put into the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, I don't understand why this A1 priority has not been dealt with. This bridge is owned by the federal government, so they are the only ones that can fix this serious issue.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cincinnati Excitment Part II

The Cincinnati Streetcar documents spoke about 18 hour of service per day. I thought I would post the exact projections and budgets for capital and operating costs directly from their feasibility study.

Here are a few more quality videos that explain the drivers for this streetcar project and related quality of life issues.

Economic Development - Growing A Smart Workforce

Connecting Communities Within The City

A Vibrant City Life

Monday, December 6, 2010

Excitment Abounds in Cincinnati

Since 2006/2007, the City of Cincinnati began seriously looking at streetcars as a solution to vacant commercial space, areas in need of redevelopment, connecting neighbourhoods and bringing a vibrancy to their downtown core. Yesterday I shared a video on streetcars for Los Angeles. Over the next couple of days I'd like to share some very well done videos on the Cincinnati Streetcar Proposal.

You should know that the question went to the taxpayers in a referendum and was approved. The city has been working on funding for a phase one project and eventually a phase two expansion. You can read all the details here at Wikipedia, including links to press reports, the feasibility study, etc.

Capital Costs

The entire system with uptown expansion would equal about 4 miles of track, the cars, etc. will cost US$ 185M, with the first phase at US$102M and phase two at $83M.

Operating Costs

'The system assumes about 4,600 weekday trips daily (year one) at $.50 fare and 6,400 daily weekday trips at $.50. The system would receive additional revenue through advertising, private partners, funding from economic growth the city would experience from this system which is estimated to be at least almost $2B within 10 years.

Some good videos were produced that highlight the benefits of a streetcar program and today and tomorrow you can watch them right here. As always, we are very interested in your feedback. So, watch the videos, post your comments and join the discussion.

Here is one of the videos from the city manager that explains the benefits. More to come, stay tuned and join the discussion!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Streetcars Connect Neighbourhoods and More

I was catching up on all my news reading and subjects of interest today and found this great video from a group that hopes to revive the streetcar in Los Angeles. This great little video talks about the streetcar as a connection and economic development tool.

Watch the great map of LA that appears and shows potential new streetcar lines. I've been to LA and love the city, but it is tiring with all the driving and car focus. Can you imaging an LA that is served by modern street cars and non-car connectivity to the various neighbourhoods? That would be awesome. Anyway, enjoy this great little video. Check out the LA streetcar group at this URL.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

SFU & City of Surrey Transportation Lecture Program: Tough Choices

Over the past two months, I had the pleasure of attending the SFU & City of Surrey Transportation Lecture Program. The program was based on a similar program that has been running in Portland for the last 20 years to engage the local community. The Surrey Program provided us “with a comprehensive introduction to Transportation in the Lower Mainland with a particular focus on Surrey. You will learn about a wide range of transportation issues from regional planning of development and land use through to the day-to-day operation and management of our transportation systems.” We heard lectures from professional in the field from the City of Surrey to TransLink to the Province. The program built up to a final presentation that we had to prepare for the class on transportation.

I did a presentation with Brandon Yan on Complete Streets which you can download from the Course Materials section of the program’s site. While all the presentation where great, there was one that stuck in my mind called “Tough Choices to Enhance Sustainable Mobility Within Surrey and Metro Vancouver.” It struck me because this presentation basically outlines everything that the little voice deep-down tell us we need to do, but we haven't. Bill Lambert, David Walters, and Zaira Hernandez pointed out the following objectives for a sustainable transportation system and the “tough choices” to obtain the goals.

Objective 1 ‐ Travel Options (Light Rail, Frequent Bus, Cycling,etc)
Tough Choices
-Build transit priority lanes, queue jumpers, & transit signals in order to provide timely and reliable transit services with time advantage over autos.
-Require municipalities to TDM and parking policies (unbundled parking, high rates, parking for carpools, limit supply, parking maximums, removal of parking on arterial roads in peak periods) and TOD plans for funding for transit enhancements.
-Above requirements would be prerequisites for federal/provincial/regional funding of rapid transit services in a municipality.

-More expensive to travel in car alone –vehicle levies, tolls, parking charges distance related insurance, gas tax etc.
-Faster by transit than car in many corridors.
-Households able to save ‐$10,000 minimum annually.
-Reduce energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, auto property insurance costs and roadway infrastructure build/maintenance costs.
-Provide any more attractive choices for travel and opportunities to workand live closer together–fewer trips.

Objective 2-Sustainable Funding for Sustainable Travel and Land Options
Tough Choices
-All day tolls on new and old main bridges adjusted for time periods generating $2.5 billion annually.
-Toll funds dedicated to special fund only for improvements to regional and local sustainable modes‐transit and active modes‐pedestrian and cycling improvements.
-Formation of regional economic agency to pool tax funds from regional industrial/business parks in order to invest in sustainable areas for employment.

-Reduce congestion and its $1.5 billion travel delay costs in Metro.
-Reduce auto trips and greenhouse gas emissions.
-Increase reliability/reduce time of auto travel.
-More expensive to travel in car alone.
-Provides more attractive options for travel throughout region by transit and other active modes.
-Able to more effectively market Metro Vancouver to world for job growth.

Objective 3 ‐ Growth Limits and Municipal Changes
Tough Choices
-Designate hard lines for new growth and auto transportation infrastructure, and reduce growth nodes in Metro Regional Growth Plan to be strictly enforced by a combined regional/provincial body.
-Provide regional funding from bridge tolls to fund preparation of Transit ‐Oriented Plans on at least 50% of stations on BRT and RT lines receiving federal/provincial or regional funding, and use value capture taxes as part of their implementation.
-Approve a provincially negotiated plan to reduce the number of municipalities in Metro Vancouver from 21 to 4.

-Much easier to implement land use and TDM measures, and plan/build transit network and transit priority measures.
-Will facilitate getting TOD plans prepared along new BRT/RT facilities and implemented.
-Provide more sustainable limits to growth than proposed Metro Vancouver Growth Plan.

While you may not agree with everything they propose, the key point is this: We can complain all we want about the lack of transportation choice in our region, but until we send our politicians the signal that we are ready to change how we price transportation, nothing will change.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Picture of the Week

To celebrate the first day of December, here is a picture that I took during last week's "snowstorm". Even in the winter, the tress on the left help build the outdoor room and sense of place on this street.

206th Street, looking North towards Douglas Crescent

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sustainability on the Edge and Personal Choices

I am an ordinary man and I have learned a lot from an advisory group in Langley called South Fraser OnTrax. The reason I attend these meetings is mostly to learn from others such as Port Metro Vancouver, council members, environmental groups, the BC Truckers Association, TransLink, and mayors. For example:

In the first half of the 20th century people had choices with transportation whether it was walking, taking the streetcar, taking the train, cycling, and of course driving. Things seemed to work well until the more cars and trucks we had on our streets and faster speeds over longer distances lead to more injuries and deaths. In Detroit, there was even a large board on the corner of a busy street giving the death toll as the auto started taking over the road.

Needless to say our choices began to dwindle at this point in time as more personal cars and trucks became the norm. In most place in Canada, we do not have any other choice than our own vehicle. This seemed good, of course, until the price of oil destabilized and our single-mode transportation system started to break down. I cannot help but wonder how we thought this could have ever lasted.

When I worked in New Westminster, I took transit from the City of Langley into New Westminster. The SkyTrain took me over the Fraser River far faster and for less money than I could drive. While riding 502 bus to Langley, I studied an Industrial First aid Course. Studying this course on the bus saved me time. And unlike driving, I was in a far better mood when I arrived home after taking the bus. I did pass that course and riding public transportation became a part of my life. I am wondering what it would look like if we spent our next tax dollars on better public transportation instead of using them for roads and bridges and parking lots?

Monday, November 29, 2010

TransLink Funding

On Friday, the Mayors and the Province changed the voting date for TransLink's Supplemental Plans from December 9 to March 31, 2011. This is good news as both sides can now cool down from the funding Mexican Standoff. Hopefully the Province and Mayors can now sit down and have a proper discussion about long-term funding for TransLink.

What's really interesting about this whole process is that TransLink did some public consultation on the supplemental plan and found that while 80% of us think that the projects in the full-meal-deal supplement are important for the region, there was no clear support for how to raise the funding to provide said service. About half of the region supports a property tax increase while another half supports a Transportation Improvement Fee for every vehicle in the region at a cost of between $15 and $55 per year.

Two of the common themes I noticed from the public consultation report was that there was a desire to see more of a user pay system for roads in our region "the fee should be structured differently (e.g. based on vehicle usage or where people live)" and that the matter of equability needs to be addressed. In order to get buy-in from the South of Fraser, TransLink really needs to market the major improvements that the supplement will have in the sub-region. Of course until we get proper rapid transit out here, people will continue to think that they are paying for Vancouver's transit.

While I think that road pricing is a much needed tool to manage congestion and pay for capital improvement to our transportation system, assigning gas tax, vehicle tax, or road pricing to the operating budget of TransLink is risky business. As we saw in 2008, as people give up their cars for transit, TransLink has less money to provide transit. Property tax is probably the most stable funding source for TransLink in this region. It is also the most fair as people in Vancouver will be paying more property tax to TransLink than people in the South of Fraser.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Real Estate Coffee Shop

Our friend Michael Thorne from the The Real Estate Coffee Shop recently interviewed Joe and I on his podcast. We will also be on his podcast next week talking about our Sustainability on the Edge Event
In this week’s episode Michael Thorne sits down with Joe Zaccaria and Nathan Pachal of South Fraser on Trax. Michael, Joe and Nathan discuss transportation, urban planning, environment, and other issues that affect the liveability of the South of Fraser region.

Living Green, Saving Green Media

Here is the media from our Living Green, Saving Green Event that we hosted in the City of Langley on Saturday. If you listen to the audio, the first presentation is by the BC Hydro Power Smart Team about conserving energy around the home. Gordon Price is the second presenter and he talks about how urban form and transportation choice effects our bottom line, and how the reliance on cheap oil puts us in a risky financial situation. The last speaker is Lindsay Coulter, David Suzuki's Queen of Green, who gives tips about living sustainably around the house. This includes tips on which household products have the least impact to human health and the environment.


Download the Audio (Right-click to save audio)



Friday, November 26, 2010

Interesting Reads

I hope to see many of you at our Living Green, Saving Green workshop on Saturday, but in the meantime you should check out the following.

First off, the first Green Streets and Highway conference was held a few weeks ago. It was held with the support of the U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and in collaboration with the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. The conference included papers from Convincing Elected Officials to Build Green Roads and Beyond Green: The Emerging Practice of Sustainable Street Design to the very technical Carbon Nano Fiber Reinforced Cement Composite for Energy Harvesting Road and Trace Element Leaching from Recycled Pavement Materials Stabilized with Fly Ash.

According to the USDOT Blog Fast Lane:
Administrator Mendez and I are proud of DOT's representation at this week's conference. FHWA professionals numbered among the presenters and technical staff, and quite a few FHWA Division Administrators were in attendance. We believe it’s the largest showing by FHWA at any event of this kind.

So, can American roads be built to respect their surroundings and help sustain the planet? Administrator Mendez's answer was a confident "Yes."
In other news, an article in the Washington Monthly called "The Next Real Estate Boom - How housing (yes, housing) can turn the economy around." by Patrick C. Doherty and Christopher B. Leinberger looks at the changing demographic trends in North America and how the demand for urban living is now outstripping the demand for suburban living.
Many hope that when the economy recovers, demand will pick up, inventories of empty homes will be whittled down, and the traditional suburban development machine will lumber back to life. But don’t bet on it. Demand for standard-issue suburban housing is going down, not up, a trend that was apparent even before the crash. In 2006, Arthur C. Nelson, now at the University of Utah, estimated in the Journal of the American Planning Association that there will be 22 million unwanted large-lot suburban homes by 2025.

There are some obvious reasons for the growing demand for walkable neighborhoods: ever-worsening traffic congestion, memories of the 2008 spike in gasoline prices, and the fact that many cities have become more attractive places to live thanks to falling crime rates and the replacement of heavy industries with cleaner, higher-end service and professional economies.

But the biggest factor, one that will quickly pick up speed in the next few years, is demographic. The baby boomers and their children, the millennial generation, are looking for places to live and work that reflect their current desires and life needs. Boomers are downsizing as their children leave home while the millennials, or generation Y, are setting out on their careers with far different housing needs and preferences. Both of these huge demographic groups want something that the U.S. housing market is not currently providing: small one- to three-bedroom homes in walkable, transit-oriented, economically dynamic, and job-rich neighborhoods.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quattro Charity Breakfast

Benefiting North Surrey Charities

-Bring non-perishable foods for the local Food Bank
-Free pancake and sausage breakfast with juice and coffee served
with appreciation by the North Surrey Lions Club (by donation)
-Bring toy donations for the Surrey Christmas Bureau
-Bring clean used clothing or blanket donations for the local branch
of the Salvation Army

Saturday, December 4th, 2010
9:00 am - 11:00 am
Quattro Discovery Centre
10768 Whalley Boulevard
(between 108th and 107A Street)

Event organized and sponsored by
Tien Sher Group of Companies
Developer of the Quattro community

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Picture of the Week - Central Surrey

One of the greatest transformations in the South of Fraser is happening in Whalley or what is now being called Surrey City Centre. This part of the region was your standard suburban commercial strip and is changing into a high-density downtown core that will rival Vancouver’s core. The following pictures are from the Park Place development by King George SkyTrain station.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Upcoming Event - Living Green, Saving Green

South Fraser OnTrax presents a workshop on saving money by living sustainably. Learn from David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green Lindsay Coulter and SFU’s The City Program Director Gordon Price. Also, BC Hydro will talk on energy saving in the home and provide help with accessing various energy saving rebates and grants available.

Saturday, November 27, 2010
1:00pm – 3:00pm
Douglas Recreation Centre
20550 Douglas Crescent

Setup and Registration

Introduction and Welcome

BC Hydro - “Power Smart Tips for Home”

Gordon Price, SFU City Program – “Sustainable City Living”

Lindsay Coulter, David Suzuki's Queen of Green – “Small steps for a healthier planet start at home”

-Question and Answer Café with Gordon Price and Lindsay Coulter
-BC Hydro Power Smart Team Information Table Open and Team available to answer Questions

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sustainability on the Edge II - Media

For those of you that couldn't make it to our Sustainability on the Edge II event yesterday due to the snow and train accident, I've posted-up the audio and presentation slides. If you have never heard Dan Burden, please listen. He will inspire you to make a positive change in your community. He even talked about my home town Vernon, BC and how awesome it is! The presentations below are in the order of the presenters in the audio.

Time Index
Dan Burden: 00:09:20
David Pollock: 01:00:22
Charan Sethi: 01:14:40
Ramin Seifi: 01:31:50
Shawn Bouchard: 02:00:10


Download the Audio (Right-Click)



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sustainability on the Edge Happening in Three Hours

Snow aside, Sustainability on the Edge is happening in just 3 hours from now.
Come in out of the winter wonderland. Kick back, relax and enjoy world-class speakers. All FREE of charge. Come in out of the cold!

Sustainability on the Edge
Saturday, November 20, 2010
9:00am – Noon
4th Floor - Township of Langley Civic Facility
20338 65 Avenue

On Saturday, November 20th, we will be hosting our 2nd Annual Sustainability on the Edge event. Our keynote speaker this year is Time Magazine's “One of the 6 Most Important Civic Innovators in the World” Dan Burden. He will be speaking on “How we got into this mess and our way out” along with other sustainability minded developers and local government staff. The snow has fallen and now we will be getting together this morning. Free registration begins at 8:30am!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Biographies of Speakers: Sustainability on the Edge II

Yesterday I posted the agenda and today I've included the biographies of the great list of speakers we have lined up. Hope to see many of your tomorrow.

Dan Burden Biography

Dan Burden is the nation’s most recognized authority on walkability, bicycle & pedestrian programs, street corridor & intersection design, traffic flow & calming, road diets, and other planning elements that affect roadway environments. Dan is also sought after by the health community, promoting neighbourhoods, villages, and cities that are designed for more active, interactive, and healthy living. Dan has 37 years of experience in developing, promoting and evaluating alternative transportation facilities, traffic calming practices and sustainable community design.

Employed by Florida DOT in 1980 as the first Bicycle Coordinator, Dan returned from an inspiring trip to Australia, changed his job title and became the nation’s first full time State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator in 1981. Then in 1996, with many requests to help others, Dan and his wife Lys founded Walkable Communities, Inc., a non-profit corporation helping North America develop walkability programs and walkable communities. In 2005, Dan joined Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin, Inc. and became a Senior Urban Designer, Principal, and Shareholder. Although Dan is contracted and paid through Glatting Jackson, he and his staff maintain and promote walkability information and knowledge through Walkable Communities, Inc.

There are few people in the country who know more about traffic calming practices, access management, building streets for emergency responders, intersection design, and other strategies for creating pedestrian and bicycle friendly communities than Dan Burden. He has taught bicycle and pedestrian facility design courses, livability, Smart Growth, and Sustainable Transportation in hundreds of different communities throughout North America.

Dan has personally photographed and examined walking, bicycling, placemaking, and town centre conditions in over 2500 cities in the U.S. and abroad. He worked as a bicycle consultant in China for the United Nations in 1994, and he has been to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and many European countries to photograph their great cities. His pictures have been published in the New York Times, National Geographic, Better Homes and Gardens, Sierra Club calendars, and Weekly Reader. Presentations are always richly illustrated with examples from near and far.

-Time Magazine recently listed Dan as “one of the six most important civic innovators in the world.”
-The Transportation Research Board (National Academy of Sciences) honoured Dan by making him their Distinguished Lecturer in 2001.
-In 2007 EPA’s New Partners for Smart Growth gave Dan its first “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
-In 2000, The Association of Pedestrian and Bicyclists Professionals (APBP) honoured Dan with its first “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
-The League of American Bicyclists lists Dan as “one of the 25 most significant leaders in bicycling for the past 100 years.”

Charan Sethi Biography
Charan Sethi is President of the Tien Sher Group of Companies, developer and builders of community sensitive and transit friendly new home construction projects.

A licensed Machinist in England, Charan continued his trade upon immigrating Canada in 1979. Charan began an award-winning career as a Realtor consistently ranking amongst the top 1% in the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board. In 2001 he also started developing new single-family and multi-family communities. Since then, Charan has completed single-family and multi-family residential developments and subdivisions throughout Surrey, Richmond, and New Westminster totaling over 1,400 homes. Charan’s current goal is to develop 12 acres of land in Whalley – part of the new Surrey City Centre. When completed, this development will supply over 1,900 residential units and 35,000 sq.ft. of commercial/office space to Surrey’s growing population.

Charan is an active member of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association, the Urban Development Institute, the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association, and Richmond Chamber of Commerce and a Director of Surrey Business improvement. As President of the Tien Sher Group of Companies, Charan believes in giving back to the community including his sponsorship of neighbourhood festivals and the Surrey Christmas House.

Ramin Seifi Biography
Currently serving in the position of Director of Community Development with the Township of Langley. Registered as a Professional Engineer with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC; and a practicing Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners. Completed academic education in United Kingdom with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering in 1985 and moved to Canada in 1990. Over 25 years of experience in municipal engineering and community planning work in the private and public sectors in Europe and Canada. Lead and manage a team of approximately 70 professional, technical and support staff in 7 distinct yet inter-related departments ranging from long range planning and economic development to permits, licenses and inspections. A member of the senior management team, responsible for providing recommendations and advice to Council related to establishing strategic direction, policies as well as disposition of individual development applications. Serve as co-chair of the Urban Development Institute’s Langley liaison committee and represent the municipality on other external and regional initiatives.

David Pollock Biography
David started his career in engineering as a construction engineer in the United Kingdom spending four years building roads and large diameter storm projects. Upon his arrival in Canada in 1989 he moved to the consulting sector and worked for a variety of companies both in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island focusing on the municipal sector. After ten years in consulting practice David moved into local Government working for Maple Ridge, White Rock and most recently the Township of Langley.

In addition to his work activities at Langley David is the incoming Chair of the Municipal Engineers Division of APEGBC and is on the Board of Directors for the Master Municipal Construction Documents Association (MMCD).

Shawn Bouchard Biography
A Serial Entrepreneur since 1994, Shawn has owned and run many businesses in different fields such as sales, finance, building trades, appraising, marketing and project management. Over the last 20 years Shawn has also been active in the community as a volunteer in three community organizations. All of these experiences have given Shawn a broad understanding of the needs of both business and community. Shawn is currently the principal of Capstone Group Holdings, vice president of Quadra Homes, serves on the board of the Pregnancy Options Centre (Surrey) and is a member on the Urban Development Institutes Langley Liaison Committee. Through Quadra Homes, Shawn is the project manager for Yorkson Creek, a 1628 unit master planned community in the Township of Langley, Cedar Downs, a 338 unit condominium project in Pitt Meadows, and West Harbour, a 220 unit single family project in West Bank.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sustainability on the Edge Agenda

Here is the agenda for our second annual Sustainability on the Edge Lecture Series. You can also download a PDF copy from our document archive. We will be selling pens and buttons to support events like this in the future for $2 a piece.

Saturday, November 20, 2010
9:00am – 12 Noon
Township of Langley Civic Facility Fraser
River Presentation Theatre
20338 – 65 Avenue, Langley, BC


Schedule of Events

08:30 – 09:00
09:00 – 09:05
Opening Remarks, Who SFOT is, Introductions & Housekeeping Matters – MC Jordan
09:05 – 09:10
Township Mayor Rick Green’s Welcome Message
09:10 – 10:10
Mr. Dan Burden ‐ Key Note “How We Got Into This Mess and Our Way Out”
10:10 – 10:30
Mr. Charan Sethi – “How to Change Your World – Being A Social Architect”
10:30 – 10:45
Mr. Ramin Seifi, P.Eng., MCIP, Director of Community Development –Township of Langley
“On the Road to Sustainability”
10:45 – 11:00
Mr. David Pollock, Manager, Operations – Township of Langley
“Making our Township More Sustainable”
11:00 – 11:15
Shawn Bouchard
“Attitudes for Successful Partnering!”
11:15 – 11:45
Panel Discussion (All Speakers) Written Submission Q & A
11:45 – 12 Noon
Closing Remarks – MC Jordan Bateman/South Fraser OnTrax

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

BCTA - Meeting Last Night

Last night, we had the chance to hear from Greg Kolesniak who is a policy analyst for the BC Trucking Association. While the first thing that may come to your mind is the connection between the BCTA and the Gateway Program, I was surprised to hear about the new research that they are starting.

Greg talked about how if you try to solve the issue of congestion with only supply-side solutions, you will shortly find that you have exhausted any spare capacity. The BCTA is now researching Transportation Demand Management (TDM) solutions for Metro Vancouver. I think there is an acknowledgement from all players that the Gateway Program is the last kick-at-the-can for supply-based congestion mitigation strategies and that TDM is in the future for Metro Vancouver.

The BCTA will be looking at all TDM from congestion pricing to distance based insurance. It will be interesting to see what they recommend for this region.

Besides TDM, Greg also gave an overview of the trucking industry in BC and you can find out more information in the presentation below.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Picture of the Day - Growing Up

All things being equal, cities seem to grow out before they grow up (figuratively and literally). Vancouver started its history as a community of one-story street-front commercial buildings and single-family houses with the occasional apartment building. It then slowly built up over the past 60 years. In the South of Fraser, it seems like the same pattern is happening. The City of Langley was built out long before my time and is in the process of building up now. The following picture is from one of the former single-family neighbourhoods North of the Nicomekl River.

53A Ave @ 203rd St

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sustainable Transportation Slide Show

As promised, New Westminster City Councillor Jonathan Cote provided this presentation from his talk at the NWEP AGM on November 9, 2010.

As Cllr. Cote points out, the urban landscape and development plays a vital role in the transportation and transit options we get. So, he says we need (and SFOT agrees):

  • Street Design
  • Mixed Use
  • Density

Friday, November 12, 2010

Upcoming Meeting and Events

Our next meeting is on Tuesday, November 16th. This month we will be hearing from Greg Kolesniak of the BC Trucking Association. He will be speaking about the economic benefits of the trucking industry in BC. He will also be available to answer any questions or comments you might have on trucking in the province.

Monthly Meeting: BC Trucking Association
Tuesday, November 16th
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Township of Langley Municipal Facility
4th Floor, Yorkson Creek Meeting Room
20338 65 Avenue

On Saturday, November 20th, we will be hosting our 2nd Annual Sustainability on the Edge event. Our keynote speaker this year is Time Magazine's “One of the 6 Most Important Civic Innovators in the World” Dan Burden. He will be speaking on “How we got into this mess and our way out” along with other sustainability minded developers and local government staff.

Sustainability on the Edge
Saturday, November 20, 2010
9:00am – Noon
4th Floor - Township of Langley Civic Facility
20338 65 Avenue

On Saturday, November 27th, our Living Green, Saving Green workshop kicks-off. Learn from David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green Lindsay Coulter. Also, BC Hydro will talk on energy saving in the home and provide help with accessing various energy saving rebates and grants available.

Living Green, Saving Green
Saturday, November 27, 2010
1:00pm – 3:00pm
Douglas Recreation Centre
20550 Douglas Crescent

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Westminster Environmental Partners AGM & Sustainable Transportation Forum

As most of you know, I was on the platform last night for the Annual General Meeting of the New Westminster Environmental Partners meeting (NWEP). I'm not sure what the official count was, but by the end of the evening I would guess 60-70 people in attendance.

Stephen Rees did a pretty fair job of recapping what each speaker had to say on a high level and I would refer you here for more details. Addressing some of Stephen's comments, I would say that the NWEP wasn't necessarily trying to get "experts" to speak last night. Rather they seemed to be looking at sustainable transportation through several viewpoints.

I for one never call myself an "expert" on anything, including the consulting work that I've done for the past 30+ years. It's up to others to judge what value they derive from my work. Feedback from the audience was very good and most didn't want to leave at the end of the night. Stephen is an expert on many of these issues, and so I'm certain these meetings will frustrate him, as they can only scratch the surface of the entire realm of deeper, interrelated issues that could always be examined.

The forum did end with a Q & A related to the very issues that Stephen mentioned like the proposed replacement of the Patullo Bridge, the North Fraser Perimeter Road and work on United Blvd. that will all impact New Westminster in a big way. Some of the audience approached me later to talk about how much information they got out of the evening and came with some very comprehensive questions for all of us.

I very much enjoyed hearing from Jerry Dobrovolny, the Director of Transportation for the City of Vancouver (a New Westminster resident and former councillor). It was interesting to hear about his mandate from CoV officials that they NOT increase road capacity despite the widening of Highway 1 and the larger Port Mann Bridge that is soon to be delivered. He said the city controls signaling and such, they have facts and data on current demand and they will not be changing anything to accommodate more vehicle demand. This makes it imperative for the south of Fraser region to build extensive transportation options into these communities.

Jerry Dobrovolny's presentation included two parts. The first on the controversial Segregated Bike Lanes Project which you can access all the information here and data regarding the Burrard Street Bridge cycle project here.

The second half of Jerry's presentation was related to the 2010 Winter Olympics and data obtained during that time. I can't do the subject justice as he had many facts and figures from this huge event that you can find links to here. He made it clear that although other Host Cities collected data and devised plans BEFORE the games, Vancouver continued collecting data DURING the games with the help of UBC students.

I have an email out to Cllr. Jonathan Cote of New West and hope to post his presentation here later when I hear back from him. Hat's off to the hard working folks at NWEP for an excellent meeting!

My presentation can be viewed here:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cyclists' Bill of Rights

In BC we already have a Taxi Bill of Rights, maybe we should also have a cyclists' bill of rights based on the following from the Bike Writers Collective (we can just remove some of the US Constitution stuff and replace it with Charter rights).
WHEREAS, cyclists have the right to ride the streets of our communities and this right is formally articulated in the California Vehicle Code; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are considered to be the “indicator species” of a healthy community; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are both environmental and traffic congestion solutions; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are, first and foremost, people - with all of the rights and privileges that come from being members of this great society; and

NOW, THEREFORE, WE THE CYCLING COMMUNITY, do hereby claim the following rights:

1) Cyclists have the right to travel safely and free of fear.

2) Cyclists have the right to equal access to our public streets and to sufficient and significant road space.

3) Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.

4) Cyclists have the right to the full support of our judicial system and the right to expect that those who endanger, injure or kill cyclists be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

5) Cyclists have the right to routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements.

6) Cyclists have the right to urban and roadway planning, development and design that enable and support safe cycling.

7) Cyclists have the right to traffic signals, signage and maintenance standards that enable and support safe cycling.

8) Cyclists have the right to be actively engaged as a constituent group in the organization and administration of our communities.

9) Cyclists have the right to full access for themselves and their bicycles on all mass transit with no limitations.

10) Cyclists have the right to end-of-trip amenities that include safe and secure opportunities to park their bicycles.

11) Cyclists have the right to be secure in their persons and property, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure, as guaranteed by the 4th Amendment.

12) Cyclists have the right to peaceably assemble in the public space, as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.

And further, we claim and assert these rights by taking to the streets and riding our bicycles, all in an expression of our inalienable right to ride!

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Westminister Environmental Partners AGM - FREE Admission

On Tuesday night, November 9, 2010, the New Westminster Environmental Partners will hold a forum on The Future of Sustainable Transportation at their annual AGM. This event is free and open to the public. All details of this event are listed above in the poster.

I am on the speaker's list as you will see below. I have been asked to share information on the future of sustainable transportation in the south Fraser region. I am very much looking forward to this evening, as my fellow speakers are quality people.

The Speakers List Includes:

Jerry Dobrovolny
is the Director of Transportation for the City of Vancouver and a former New Westminster City Councillor. He will discuss how the Olympics and Separated Bike Lanes are helping to Make Vancouver the Greenest City in the World by 2020. The presentation will include newly released data showing the shift in travel modes that occurred during games time, and discuss how cities can excel in a paradigm of peak oil and GHG reduction.

Joe Zaccaria is a sustainable transportation advocate from South Fraser OnTrax. Joe will present some quick facts from our neighbours in the south-of-Fraser region, including options to decrease motordom and make our communities walkable again. What is driving transportation needs in the south of Fraser? What is being planned and what is being hoped for? What does these mean for the whole region?

Jonathan Cote is a New Westminster City Councillor. He will talk about how urban design and form affect sustainable transportation. He will also talk about road pricing and other issues in the local (New Westminster) and regional (Metro Vancouver) context.

You can check out the NWEP website here for more details and complete information on the group. Memberships will be available for $5.00 at the meeting if you wish to donate and vote at this AGM. Come out and support this worthy community group that is making a difference!

New Westminster Environmental Partners AGM
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Student Union Lounge at Douglas College
700 Royal Avenue, New Westminster (Main Campus Address)

Picture of the Day

The Muse on Fraser Highway in Langley City
In our continuing series called "What do you mean there is more than strip malls and single family housing in the South of Fraser?", I present the live/work building. The City of Langley has three of this type of building which allows both running a business and/or living in the same unit. This type of development has been very successful in the City and we are likely to see more of this flexible building style in the coming years.

Friday, November 5, 2010


The City of Langley is currently looking at introducing a tree protection bylaw that would see a fine of $1,000 to $10,000 for cutting down trees that have a diameter of 20cm or larger on private property. The bylaw came about as a result of a poll which showed that 91% of City of Langley residents want their municipality to take a leadership role in sustainability and environmental protection. Also, some of the feedback heard from the recent consultation on Smaller Lot Sizes south of the Nicomekl River found that people were very concerned about the removal of trees caused by the scorched earth policy of some developer when building new projects.

The Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) representative that sits on the Park and Environment Advisory Committee was concerned at last night's meeting that invasive species are part of the protected tree bylaw. I hope this is resolved before final reading of this proposed bylaw in December.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Road Design

Last night at the SFU/City of Surrey Transportation Lecture Program, I had the chance to listen to Paul de Leur, PhD from ICBC talk about road safety and design. I asked him what the safest kind of intersection and most dangerous was, and also the safest kind of road and most dangerous was.

Roundabouts are by far the safest type of intersection because they reduce the amount of conflict points in an intersection. T-bone collisions are replaced with side swipe collisions which are significantly less lethal. Signalized intersections that meet at non-90 degree angles are the most dangerous as there are a large amount of conflict points.

As far as road design goes freeways reduce the amount of minor collisions, but increase the amount of collisions that end in someone being dead as compared to any other type of road.

In Surrey, according to Jaime Boan, 7% of the total transpiration capital budget over the next 10 years is dedicated exclusively to cycling and walking. Of the City's road building budget, 25% gets spent on sidewalks and bike lanes. That's a pretty big change when you think about the fact that Surrey didn't even build sidewalks until the 1990's!