Tuesday, October 7, 2014

More freeways and highways for Metro Vancouver and BC

This morning, the BC Ministry of Transportation launched “B.C. on the Move: A 10-year Transportation Plan”. The province is seeking public feedback about the plan between October 14th and December 12th to help identify priorities for people in the province. The government has set up a website where you can download a discussion guide and also provide feedback via a survey.

Looking at the information in the discussion guide, I wonder how much room there will be to change or provide meaningful feedback on transportation priorities in the province. The government has outlined four main priorities: moving goods and people safely and reliably; growing the economy; connecting and strengthening communities; and, maximizing collaboration and investment with partners, including First Nations, the federal government, regional and local governments, and the private sector.

The discussion guide is divided into three sections. One section outlines the state of the transportation system in BC. It talks about roads, transit, cycling, rail, ferries, ports, and airports; it’s actually very multi-modal and gives equal attention to all modes of travel.

The second section highlights what transportation infrastructure the government has invested in since the start of the 21st century. Looking at this section, it becomes apparent that the province has focused more on expanding roads and building bridges than over forms of transportation. The province has also invested heavily in road infrastructure to improve access for natural resource extraction. The section does highlight the completion of the Canada Line, Kelowna Rapid Bus, and the start of Evergreen line construction.

The final section focuses on future priorities of the provincial government. Sadly, this is the least multi-modal section of the guide.

While the province has four goals for the future of transportation, it is clear by looking at the discussion guide, that there are really only two main goals for the province: moving people and goods safely and reliably, and growing the economy. These goals have specific actions, while the remaining goals seem more aspirational.

It is also apparent from the discussion guide that reducing GHG emissions is not a priority for the province. Sadly, transit, cycling, and reducing GHG emissions appear to be afterthoughts; the government wants bigger roads and better airports.

For Metro Vancouver, the province is going to replace the George Massey Tunnel and that’s about it. The province has basically washed its hands of transit in the region. The rest of the province will see more roads, especially if those roads will help open up LNG opportunities.

While the province is seeking public feedback about its plan, I feel like the province’s investment strategy is already a foregone conclusion: more roads, and especially more roads to support LNG.


Patrick said...

Do you think it's worthwhile engaging in the survey for those of us that would like to see a greater importance placed on public transportation and cycling infrastructure on the part of the province?

On one hand, it pads their returns before they build the report, on the other hand, it may genuinely change their emphasis.


Nathan Pachal said...

I think it is worth doing. At least feedback on an alternative will be captured.