By Peter Teevan
This was a recurrent question at the last Council Workshop before the summer break. Councillor Jim Hanson, although outnumbered, was questioning the pace of development in the context of what he called the “lack of a transportation plan”.
Mayor Walton, with the others chiming in, retorted quite passionately – “We absolutely do have a transportation plan; it is right there for anybody to see” (paraphrased). So that’s what we did. The Plan, for what it is, is indeed on DNV’s Website. And if you want to see the end of the automobile, go ahead and implement it.
The problem is, the plan is full of contradictions and untenable positions. Firstly, it acknowledges what we already know are challenges;
1) We are limited by two crossings, which are pinch points at the two bridgeheads.
2) We lack a grid pattern due to our topography, and therefore don’t have enough east-west corridors.
3) The number one reason people drive their cars is because it’s faster than other modes (74% said that) and that as average incomes rise (DNV is now over $103,000 per household per the 2016 census), the propensity to switch away due to cost is low.
So what does the plan hope to create? Well its first priorities are to encourage Cycling and Walking. Great goals to be sure, but considering the topography and weather, and the fact that the average of DNV’s 2.88 trips per day, for an average 8 km’s per trip, it’s not surprising that car ownership is on the rise, not decline, and currently 79% of all trips are not by cycling, walking or transit. The goal of the plan is to increase the walking, cycling and transit share of 21% to 35% by the year 2030. That’s not the problem.
The problem, fellow citizens, is, that for the 79% of us who are convinced we need to use our cars because it’s faster, too far, we need to arrive dry, or it’s simply impossible because we need to carry things or other people with us – the plan treats us like we’re a blight on the community. Things would be beautiful, says this plan, if we were all retired and could walk and bus everywhere, which doesn’t fit with the OCP goal of bringing back “the missing middle” and young families.
There is not a single traffic-improving suggestion in the plan; the only one mentioned is the Mountain Highway/Lower Lynn Interchange improvements, which is a Provincial project.
Any plan to make east-west traffic flows more efficient by synchronizing traffic lights? Nope. Any plans to coordinate construction closures between DNV, CNV, and DWV to ensure we don’t have closures on Keith Road and Main Street at the same time? Nope. The only traffic measures talked about are slowing down to make it safer for cyclists. Lots of mention of the car being a safety threat to the cyclist – and it is. No mention of the cyclist learning to navigate among cars in a safe manner.
But there is an elephant in the room. Actually there’s two. One was built in 1937, making it 81 years old now. The other, built in 1957 – so it’s a spry 61 years young! One Provincial Official admitted to me that the Ironworkers Bridge is “50 years away from Patullo-shape”. And it’s maxed out now during peak times. Shouldn’t we be committing development income NOW to new bridges needed in the future?
What is their solution to the bridges? Transportation Demand Management! What is that? To promote the choice of cycling, walking and transit by educating and “incenting” people to switch away from cars. How do you “incent” people to do that? Why by making them more expensive of course! What’s not mentioned? MOBILITY PRICING, which is a tax for which the intention is to make driving so expensive, that we all choose to quit driving.
The philosophy of Translink seems to be “let it fail” and then we will come in to “save the day”.
During the workshop, I pointed out to Council that “demand first, infrastructure later” is not how this country, province and Metro Vancouver were built. “Visionaries”, I said, “had the foresight to build a railway through to Burrard Inlet, and all this development came because of it”.
So what would be “visionary” today? The only thing I can see, is to implement MLA Jane Thornthwaite’s idea of a East-West running Skytrain on the North Shore – one that takes people from Horseshoe Bay to Dollarton, and hooks into the other systems. Because one day, those lines could go over to Gibsons, up to Squamish & Whistler and through to the Evergreen Line in Port Moody. That would be visionary.