Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Letter To the Editor - February 7, 2006 - From Pierre Rovtar - No to Gateway

(We post letters to the editor prominently sent to our attention. EDITOR-LFP)

To the Editor,Not everyone south of the Fraser River supports the twinning project.

Members of the Fraser Valley Conservation Network are concerned with how twinning will impact their quality of life. Although many residents are fed up with the congestion at the Port Mann Bridge, many believe that twinning will merely exacerbate the problem and contribute to more sprawl and congestion within a few years.

Widening Highways 10, Hwy 15 and the construction of the 96th Avenue connector from the Golden Ears bridge to 176 Street will mean our communities will be severed and fragmented into car dependent clusters of homes surrounded by pavement.

This is typical of the type of progress exemplified by 1950's California.

I think the Transportation Ministry is well aware of the failure of road expansion to cure congestion problems, so the question is: “Why does BC Transport Minister Falcon continue to pursue this failed experiment?”

The Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition believes that anything that contributes to urban sprawl puts added pressure on removal of land from the ALR. The City of Abbotsford has just approved the exclusion of 400 acres of Class One farmland for building industrial parks, while the City of Surrey recently approved construction of the Campbell Heights Business Park, ignoring the recommendation of its own Environment Assessment Committee. The committee wanted to protect this second growth forest land (classified as most environmentally sensitive ESA-1) which was home to several blue and red-listed endangered species.

Even Paul Landry, President of the BC Trucking Association, speaking at a recent Transportation summit, said that building business parks many kilometers from population centers and without transit access was not a good idea.

The Fraser Valley Conservation Network believes that better alternatives to twinning and road expansion can be implemented immediately.

Introduction of Rapid Bus service from Abbotsford, Langley and Surrey with queue jumper lanes (already in Translink's plans for 2007) at the Port Mann bridge could bring commuters to Coquitlam and to Millenium line stations within months, for a fraction of the cost of twinning.

Tolls could be implemented immediately with all funds earmarked for a light rail crossing to connect the new North East line with communities south of the River.

And the future could see the reinstatement of Interurban transit along the Southern Railway line (the old BC Electric Railway).

But above all else, we need a Transportation Ministry that can look to the future, and not to the California of decades ago.
Pierre Rovtar

Pierre Rovtar, ran unsuccessfully against BC Minister Falcon in Surrey-Cloverdale as the Green Party candidate. He has become an advocate for healthy long term development. Pierre became involved in local issues by joining conservation groups such as the Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition the Surrey Environmental Partners and the David Suzuki Foundation. Editor- LFP

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