Saturday, November 12, 2011

Leotarded Traffic Ideas from Candidates

So apparently traffic concerns are top of the list for voter's concerns, in this election here in New West. I follow municipal politics pretty closely. More closely than most, I like to think. So I've been trying to find out just where all the candidates stand on the hot topic of traffic issues. There's not a lot of info out there, you actually have to talk to the candidates, attend get-togethers, etc.

And you know, I've come to the conclusion that most candidates haven't thought through our traffic problems. They certainly have no idea of how to solve them.

Witness dumb statements like:

- not supporting tolling on the Patullo: right. I mean, I get your commitment to social justice, and yeah, it sucks that many people don't make much money, but you know, once that new Port Mann opens with tolls, whaddaya think will happen? A related dumb idea, enunciated by another candidate, is that folks in New West shouldn't have to pay tolls on the Patullo (because it's "ours" somehow???). This is known as freeloading. Makes it sound like you are a Serious Contender, when the reality is you're OK with other people paying for the infrastructure you get to use. As for the social justice part, since when is it New West City Council's role to enable the low-income earners from South of the Fraser to commute to work? You'd be better off spending your political capital enabling affordable housing right here in our jurisdiction so lower-paid workers can live a little closer to "the office". And on lobbying Translink to provide better transit down there with good connections to SkyTrain - and that means funding the transit authority...which leads us to...

- voting against property tax increases to fund Translink. This one's for the Mayor, since he's the only one with the vote,  but the attitude is there amongst the candidates. Dude, New Westminster is the first community to suffer when transit funding dries up. In case you haven't noticed, it all drives through here. So it's a dumb idea to get all ideological about how to pay for transit improvements. Yeah, yeah, we all hate taxes, but really we all end up paying somehow. It's called offloading, I'm sure you've heard of the term, it's all the rage at higher levels of gubmint these days. It enables them to look like Serious People in lowering taxes, while in reality doing nothing of the sort. So denying dollars to Translink to score political points is a leotarded and completely counterproductive move.

- supporting the Stormont Connector: oh man, did you not learn anything from the UBE excercise? What's that? You'd only support a tunnel? Right. Just as a reality check, such a connector would cost more than the Evergreen Line and Port Mann combined. So a) it hasn't got a snowball's chance of happening, and b) even if it did it would rip up the area around McBride - and that's right in the middle of New West - for years during construction, and c) like the Port Mann, this only serves as a traffic inducer. It's not a solution. In fact, it's leotarded to bring this up at all. We don't need more hare-brained ideas floating around for senior levels of government to pick up and start pushing - look what happened with Skytrain's turnstiles! (addition: also, Burnaby would have to be OK with this, since most of the connector would go through there. Not gonna happen.)

- free Sunday parking: face-palm. Just when we were making some headway in getting folks out of their cars, and redesigning streets to be more human scale, we get leotard-clad ideas like this. This is a solution? To what problem, exactly?

- traffic should bypass New Westminster: uh-huh. We'd all love this, like we all love motherhood and apple pie. But bypass through where, exactly? Burnaby'll be overjoyed and is eager to take any traffic we no longer want, is that what you're saying? I'm not really hearing any solutions here, only more blather in an effort to sound like a Serious Contender.

- we don't need a transportation plan: OMG, did someone actually say that? Well, apparently some candidates think that spending more money on more planning and consultants is a waste. As in, wasting your tax dollars, which of course sounds very Serious. I can only imagine that these candidates already know what to do, or something. If so, I'd love to hear all about it. Hello?

Here is what we should be seeing our candidates discuss:

- what to do about Front Street
- how should freight move into and through our city
- what to do with that Parkade on Columbia** and how this part of town should look in terms of traffic and parking
- how to encourage mode shift in our neighbouring communities - something which will alleviate our traffic problems
- communicating a vision for the industrial lands and access to them; is there a place for industrial river access?

I've not seen anyone coherently identify, much less discuss, these issues.

New Westminster needs to have a discussion about how to at least hold the line on, and preferably reduce, traffic volumes both in and through our city. We need a council that clearly understands the broader issues around our region's goods movement and transit, not one that just mouths the tired line about "traffic is bad" or engages in empty posturing. Real solutions will cost money, will be politically hard to implement, and will cause pain as people have to adjust their habits and expectations. But other places have done it. So can we.

**OK, a few candidates have made statements about the parkade - some quite weasily with statements like "I support maybe getting rid of part of it" - but none have tied it to a larger vision.


  1. Hmmm. I agree with a lot of your points here, and they sound like they would be quite useful in deciding who to vote for. Unfortunately, you've failed to name the people, or even to provide any links. Surely some of these positions are online ? One of the great things about the Internet is that it's very easy to collaborate - no need to repeat the research that somebody else has done, instead we can build on it. Not possible in this case, unfortunately.

  2. As a newbie blogger I've not yet found the right balance between public naming-and-shaming and being completely anonymous. I don't have Pat Johnstone's guts (yet)! But here you go:

    Yup, most of these statements are public record. Check Tenth-to-the-Fraser's blog (link on the right) for a TON of info on candidates. Be sure to read the comments as well.

    no tolls on Patullo : Ashdown, Harper (the latter, stated in a meet'n greet)
    New Westminsterites should not have to pay: Macintosh (voiced in a meeting, but has since changed her mind as per written statements)

    Mayor Wright voted against tax increases to pay for Evergreen line. Osterman, Ashdown, Palmer, Wandell, Macintosh think taxes are too high.

    Supporting/willing to consider Stormont: Ashdown, Crosty, Williams, Wandell.

    free Sunday parking: Macintosh, Krasnogor

    We don't need a transportation plan: Ashdown (see full response in NWEP's questionnaire)