United Boulevard Extension Open Houses

If you’ve ever wondered why Skytrain has a dip in the guideway along Brunette, it isn’t to create a roller-coaster experience, but was designed to accommodate an overpass connected to United Boulevard in Coquitlam with Brunette Avenue.

Translink has been offered matching Federal stimulus money to complete this project as part of the Pacific Gateway Project, and told they must commit to this project by the end of the year or the money will be reallocated elsewhere. As part of the design process Translink is asking the two affected communities, New Westminster and Coquitlam, to approve moving in to the design phase (and committing to build the project) before year’s end. Hence the rushed public consultation occurring now. However like in so many projects, the devil is in the details.

Before heading to NWEP’s Urban Transportation Forum last Thursday night (I was on the organizing committee), I spent an hour at Translink’s by-invitation-only stakeholder meeting about the United Boulevard Extension (which it’s important to note the media was explicitly told they weren’t invited). There are two public open houses for this project coming up, the first being this Thursday November 18th from 5:30-8:30pm at the Justice Institute.

At the stakeholders meeting four designs were presented, each costing between $152-175 million dollars. It should be noted the federal money being offered is only $65 million. This leaves Translink to come up with $87-110 million to complete the project. At a time when Translink is strapped for cash and can’t even bridge the Evergreen Line funding gap, the decision to fund up to $110 million for the UBE is difficult to justify.

Moreover, in Translink’s own materials regarding their 2011 supplemental plan the numbers don’t add up. Take a look at the Municipal Update, page 5. In the funding options being proposed right now to the Mayor’s Council Translink claims the total financial impact of the UBE project to their budget is $53.2 million. That’s no where near the minimum of $87 million Translink would need to build the most basic option for the UBE. Another “funding” gap to fill?

In their own Transport 2040 evaluation, their strategic plan to encourage mode shift and lower pollution, the UBE scores 6.5 out of 10. Far below almost every other project.

So in summary, even with increased revenue from property taxes or a vehicle levy, we can’t afford the project and it doesn’t achieve Translink’s goals. So why do they want to build it? Federal money.

Unfortunately, based on the language used at the stakeholders meeting, the main push to build this project is the federal dollars on the table. Multiple times over the evening there were comments suggesting that if Translink didn’t commit by the end of the year the federal government would take their money and invest it in another project was used.  As you hopefully learned as a 3-year-old, just because someone is offering you something free you don’t have to take it.  What also rang in my head when I heard this justification was, “Evergreen Line?” Sure we’ll take the money, but let us use it where our own regional analysis show it will be most useful. Who knows more about regional transportation issues, TransLink or Ottawa?

And it’s not even the first time a higher level of government has tried to use matching funds as an incentive to build this project, in 2003 the provincial government offered a similar deal and the region turned them down because they recognized it wasn’t in the region’s best interests.

So how does this all relate to residents of New Westminster?

First, the cheapest of the 4 designs shown to us that evening involved expropriating good size chunks of commercial and residential land in Sapperton all the way up to Rousseau Street. One design involved building a new regional truck/commuter route parallel to Rousseau, connecting at Braid and then routing traffic back down to Brunette. The approximate expropriation area for this option can be seen in the diagram below. In three of the four designs (which were also the 3 cheapest, so you can guess which we’re likely to get) there would be some kind of new interchange on the west side of Brunette abutting the residential neighbourhood.

However this isn’t simply a NIMBY issue. While all cities have a role to play in accommodating movement in the region, the UBE does not serve this purpose. Instead, it shifts congestion from regional highways into densely populated residential areas with no significant gain in mobility for drivers stuck in traffic. It also encourages a shift of mode back into cars from the more sustainable alternatives. This project may merit consideration if real solutions for existing traffic problems within New Westminster were put in place first, however we are still waiting to see if solutions for increased traffic in the New Westminster region are affordable or practical. This was illustrated 25 years ago when Hwy 91 was brought to the Queensborough Bridge and no capacity was created to handle traffic within New Westminster.

“So where will the traffic go?” someone at the meeting asked. This is where things got a little vague. TransLink would commit to fix the Columbia/Front Street intersection at some fixed date, but not as part of this project. Which brings up visions of the fixed date set for completion of the Evergreen Line, which was originally supposed to be 2011.

As for the rest of Front Street, TransLink said that would be dealt with as part of the Pattullo Bridge project, however again no commitment on what would be done or when. The city has stated very clear stipulations on what it wants from an upgraded Front Street in this brinkmanship game it continues to play with TransLink and the province. But once the UBE is built and the flood gates are opened, all our bargaining power will evaporate. We’re playing a very dangerous game hoping we can negotiate an unaffordable solution after a piece of the project which makes our traffic congestion magnitudes worse is completed.

The United Boulevard Extension is a potential disaster for traffic congestion in New Westminster. The proposed connector doubles the capacity for traffic to enter New Westminster from the expanded Hwy 1 and Lougheed corridors, while there remains nowhere for it to go except to overflow onto residential streets. The portions of the NFPR through New Westminster remain unfunded, and most proposals aired so far are grossly inadequate to deal with existing traffic volumes. While the NFPR is being advertised as a “goods movement” investment, it is reasonable to expect that a significant portion of the users of will be single-occupancy vehicles, as they are on Front Street today.

Many of these travellers may choose to use the new Evergreen line and greatly improved transit service if such a service were to be provided to the Tri-Cities areas. In this sense, TransLink’s investment in the NFPR directly competes with their investment in the Evergreen Line and other transit services, and delays the inevitable and necessary shift from automobile-dependent transportation to more efficient mode choices for people, a stated goal of TransLink. With a continued “Funding Gap”, and the Evergreen Line still unfunded 10 years later, why would TransLink have a desire to spend $87-110 million on the United Boulevard Extension.

Just because someone offers you free candy doesn’t mean you take it. But this isn’t free candy. This is bitter medicine they know isn’t effective – and we are paying more than half the cost.

This issue affects more than just those whose houses are slated to be knocked down to make way for the UBE. In addition to the environmental and social costs, for the City of New Westminster, the expropriation of more commercial and industrial land to build the UBE means a further dwindling tax base, more congestion on city streets, and more burden on residential taxpayers. For the City, the project is an absolute financial and environmental disaster.

So now the issue is over to you, the citizens and taxpayers of New Westminster. Council is being asked before the end of the year to approve TransLink moving forward with this project. Go to the open house, ask lots of questions, make up your own minds on this project and let our mayor and council know your thoughts, because that is where the fate of this project will be decided. (And remember, next year is an election year.) This project will have enormous implications on New Westminster for decades to come, and we have less than 6 weeks to have a meaningful discussion on the topic.

73 Replies to “United Boulevard Extension Open Houses”

  1. Excellent post Matthew. The combination of the United Boulevard project with the tolled Port Mann Bridge expansion (and subsequent diversion of drivers to the free Patullo Bridge) will not only make traffice completely unbearable, it will make it very unsafe in our neighbourhoods. Residents need to attend these meetings and express their concerns.

  2. Good points all around, Matt.

    Translink can't claim to be interested in promoting alternative mode share and continue to winge about the "funding gap" while pouring $100 Million down this hole.

    The City really can't support this, it does nothing for New Westminster, and does significant harm.

  3. It gets even more interesting, thanks to others for digging around further and this document was found:

    Page 16 at the top:

    The 2011 Supplemental Plan includes TransLink’s partnership contribution of $60 million to the project.
    To date, TransLink and federal commitments total $125 million of the $153 million estimated cost of the
    North Fraser Perimeter Road Phase I project. Negotiations are underway to include additional agencies as project funders.

    First, $153 million, I guess we know which option they'll be going with. I'll give you a hint, not the one with the list impact on New Westminster neighbourhoods and tax base.

    But more importantly, they admit there's even a funding gap in this project! So, they want New Westminster to commit to the project without know what it will look like, how traffic mitigation elsewhere in the city will occur (and when it will occur) and without the money to even make the project happen, all within the next 6 weeks. Does this make sense to anyone?

    This screams even louder, with TWO proposed projects both with significant funding gaps, one of which will solve most of the problems the other would attempt to, combine the funding and make the Evergreen Line happen!

  4. It gets even more interesting, thanks to others for digging around further and this document was found:
    (page 16, top)

    The 2011 Supplemental Plan includes TransLink’s partnership contribution of $60 million to the project.
    To date, TransLink and federal commitments total $125 million of the $153 million estimated cost of the
    North Fraser Perimeter Road Phase I project. Negotiations are underway to include additional agencies as project funders.

    First, $153 million, so I guess we know which of the four options they're planning to select. I'll give you a hint, it's not the one with the least intrusion on New Westminster's neighbourhoods and tax base.

    But more important, the UBE has an admitted funding gap. Where's this money suppose to come from, the cash strapped province who is already cutting back to scope of the SFPR?

    So Translink is asking New Westminster to approve a project without answers to what & when mitigation to alleviate the problems this creates will be done, without knowing what the project will look like, and with a funding gap that could mean further erosion of the scope and therefore potentially more impacts on New Westminster liveability. Does this make sense to anyone?

    What makes far more sense when presented with two projects, both with funding gaps, where one project's ENTIRE BUDGET will fill the funding gap of the other, and said larger project achieves the exact same congestion reduction goals plus MORE, is to combine the funding envelops and at least get one project done. And for those who haven't put the pieces together I'm of course talking about the Evergreen Line.

    Let the Mayor and Council know this, loud and clear. Every letter and delegation counts.

      1. That's a very good question. Translink was saying they needed New West & Coquitlam approval to move forward as the affected municipalities, but if New West says no, then what?

        We all know this offer of 50 cents on the dollar money is high levels of government way to influence municipalities without actually TELLING them what to do, looks better politically that way because then the municipality appears to make the decision. But we also know the NFPR is important to the province and feds. So would the province step in and push the project on Translink like it has with other projects?

        All good questions I don't have an answer to.

      2. With this kind of project local governments have very significant influence. But it is also very important to put the squeeze on provincial politicians, and generally get people out on the street and the issue into the media.

  5. thank you for attending and a great job on informing the public Matt. just curious were the property owners on Rousseau invited as stakeholders. Who were the other stakeholder invited and how did they respond at the meeting?

    1. Bob you will have to ask the City who the stakeholders were, at the meeting it was said that the City provided the stakeholders list. However I was also told for groups such as the RAs Translink wanted them to send only 1-2 people. This was not a public information session.

      As for the potentially affected property owners, there was a brief comment that it was also not for them. I came in late and didn't hear the entire explanation on that. For that reason and having to leave early for the NWEP AGM I also didn't get a chance to look around the room to see exactly who was there.

      1. Great summation of the meeting, Matthew. I was there too. I had heard about the meeting and requested to be there representing the MSRA as I figured given the fact that the McBride Sapperton area would be directly impacted we definitely have a stake. I never did get a response to my request but got an invitation through the City as I sit on the Traffic Advisory Committee. Regarding homeowners: TransLink talked at the beginning of the meetnig about how they had identified stakeholders and also stated that they have been meeting individually with property owners who would potentially be impacted.
        The regional road that they would make Rousseau would just aggravate the traffic situation we presently have on E.8th and Braid Streets. The MSRA has for years requested that E.8th be removed as a truck route. This would undoubtedly elimintate this from ever happening.
        NW was always told that the UBE would not feed traffic onto Braid. The option with the additional road does just that.

        1. What too about all the potential taxes NW stands to lose from the lands being expropriated. We're faced with this issue today though because our neighbouring city received funds years ago to build a large street (UB) that would solve some of their traffic issues by dumping it on our one lane Bailey bridge and our industrial area.

  6. Shame on TransLink to bundle this dead end project with the Evergreen Line as an all or nothing choice with their current round of supplemental funding explorations. The NFPR project competes with the Evergreen Line for travelers. The majority of users of the NFPR are and will be commuters, not trucks. Trucks will never move freely through New West as long are the roads are plugged with cars, so this project does very little to move goods. New West is a City where everyone can get to/through by transit. SkyTrain has the capacity to carry a 10-lane freeway worth of travelers. Goods can move by parallel train or barge routes and would move better on truck if there were fewer commuters on the road. In a densely populated community such as New West the only way to get anything moving again is to get people out of their cars with attractive alternatives to driving.

    If TransLink manages to find $100million for this project, lets put it into better transit for Tri-Cities so they don't have to drive, finish the Evergreen Line and tell the feds they can stuff their $65million for more urban roads. That's one federal grant we can do without.

  7. Matt someone told me that the city did not do a very good job of identifying the stakeholder list for the Translink and that alot of people were upset including our local MP. It would appear much more work has to be done in communicating to stakeholders and the public. I hope this is not a done deal and they don't want anyone to show up at these meetings. I hear Wayne is pushing very hard for the garbage incierator at Canfor

  8. Mr. Phelan I voted for you in the last election and you will have my support in the next election as well. Do you think the city/school district should request air quality monitoring around some of our local schools before any more traffic is indroduced?

    1. Thanks Bob. I think they should. The easily observable consequences of increased traffic are more accidents and fatalities. The insidious consequences are a slow deterioration of quality of life. Air pollution increases and has health impacts later on in life. As well, to avoid dangerous traffic in neighbourhoods, Parents choose to drive their children to school instead of walking. This not only causes a decrease in physical activity levels but the loss of a sense of community.

      1. Indeed, the growth of traffic in New Westminster is directly pulling us away from the community we need to build.

        When I read of suggestions from DPAC to remove all crosswalks from McBride with the goal of keeping the children safe while walking to school my heart sank because this is simply addressing the symptom and not the problem. The problem is the unchecked traffic racing down McBride as if it's a freeway. Our youth are put in danger by this, and instead of addressing the problem we're looking to solution that will only make doing the right thing, walking to school, feeling safe going to a friend's house even if on the other side of McBride, less attractive.

        We need council to take a firm stand that we will not be a speedbump in the regional freeway network. That we are a community and the Pattullo and/or NFPR adds nothing to our community. Rather than playing this brinkmanship game, balancing on the fence saying maybe we'll support these projects, if we get the unaffordable mitigation we want, take a stand and say NO.

        I've recently had a conversation with someone quite high in Translink, this person pretty much said that the "plinth" we want on Front Street isn't going to happen. That no level of government could afford or justify $500 million (the last estimate I've heard) for 2 km of road. So why are we sticking to this negotiating position we'll never get? Is it just a negotiating position and there's actually a lower bar we'll accept? And how would anything less effect New Westminster?

        Vancouver for the past 2 decades or so has had a very firm policy, no new traffic capacity. This wasn't even a partisan issue, it was brought in by an NPA council, and reaffirmed by both a COPE and Vision council. It was done because all these councils recognized holding the line on traffic was a good thing for the residents of Vancouver. This is why the expanded Hwy 1 ends at First Avenue, and there will still be gridlock on the freeway, just a lot wider one. We need a similar policy, no new capacity in our New Westminster, period. Who will be brave enough to take such a stand?

        Hrm, almost makes me wish I was going to run again next year. I did take such a position last time and gladly would again. 🙂

        1. I'm all for taking a stand.
          I'm hoping New West residents can be rallied to a Strathcona-style stand on the issue. Look at how successful they were and now years later the result is Vancouver is talking about getting rid of the Georgia St. viaduct. (Though I've often wondered how the residents along the de facto highway of First St. feel about Strathcona's victory.)
          I hope there's a big turn-out at the info session on Thursday.

        2. I like the way you framed that Matt. New West has done more than our bit as a conduit of other munis traffic needs. The proposed changes are a cancer and will lower the standard of living in the city. REFUSE the United Connector. Rebuild a Pattullo Bridge at 4 lanes wide only (or toll it).

  9. it seems I'am a stakeholder in this mess as I live on rousseau st and have for 38 years, but it was only a short time ago I heard about this plan. I guess since its not in queens park not too mant people care. I wonder where our Mayor lives?

    1. Jim. This isn't a done deal.

      Show up on Thursday, learn what you can, then contact the mayor and every councillor personally. Be calm, be respectful, but explain to them that this deal is a bad deal for you. They will listen.

  10. I hope you'll attend the open house at the JI on Thursday Jim. There are many people who care about this community and don't want to see it destroyed by an ill-conceived highway project. And don't be afraid to email/write the Mayor and let him know what you think…

    1. I have to differ with you Andrew on the "don't be afraid to email/write the Mayor" and I will include councilors in this. If you don't agree with them they never forget. In this city you offer your disagreement or disaproval of projects at your own peril. Even 10th to the Fraser gets antsy when you complain about decisions that this current Mayor and Councilors make. Sorry but I have experienced this first hand and its why I will not use my name or go to anymore workshops. They just don't care to hear the truth or listen to the people who live in this city.

      1. I think it makes a difference how you disagree, Worried. It's not disagreement by itself that makes me antsy, it's the way those comments are sometimes communicated by critics. I agree that people can get pretty fired up in this city (I know I've been on the pointy end of criticism on the blog a few times). It's important for diverse opinions to be heard (which is why I try not to censor comments on the blog unless there are concerns about legal risk).

        Up to you whether you want to speak publicly, but I do want to say that on this website you are welcome to share your opinions, critical or not, so long as you do so respectfully.

      2. Worried,

        I would approach this from the view that the Mayor and Councillors have not already made a decision, and that they should at this point be seking input from their constituents. If you give them no input now, but complain about the decision they make after they make it, then they have good reason to question your sudden disapproval.

      3. Whoa, wait, before we start attacking the current mayor and council or asking when the next election is over this issue let's take a step back. If I came off as sounding like I'm pointing the finger at them over the UBE I must correct that.

        This project is a TRANSLINK proposal with Federal money. This issue has NOT gone to council yet, we don't even known what either the staff recommendation will be nor what the mayor and council think about the issue. For all we know staff will recommend council not accept it and council will vote unanimously to reject it. We're only urging people to write the mayor and council to reassure them and give them the political backing to do what is obviously (and they might have anyhow) do the right thing.

        In fact we've already heard from one council member who has told us, "Don't let no [to this project] not be an answer." The facts are this project in no way benefits New Westminster, from a social, from an environmental, from a economic/tax base angle. This is obvious from the facts. So before we go judging council over this issue let's wait to hear the position they take.

        However realistically I expect it to be a 4-3 vote on the issue. The important part is we do write them and push to ensure we have the votes that the 4-3 goes the correct way and we protect New Westminster from the traffic hordes. But here's hoping saner minds will prevail and it will be a unanimous vote against allowing Translink to proceed to the design phase.

        Write them, reassure them that you will SUPPORT their decision to vote the project down. Engagement, not confrontation as Briana said.

        1. Whats this ? First a 'high up' translink exec, and now a "No Name" councilor offering advice ?

          Protect New West from the traffiic hordes ? I think the traffic is already horrendous !
          And this is not NIMBY ?

          I wonder if the next NWEP "Green" alcoholic binge party will have a betting pool setup to take odd's on your councils vote expectations.

          1. Rick: Please moderate your tone. I am happy to have you present an alternate viewpoint here, and that's why I've allowed your comments through. However, further attacks against individuals and NWEP will not be allowed. Please focus your comments & criticisms on the issues we're discussing, rather than dissing NWEP.



          2. This council member had not yet publicly stated his opinion so it was not my place to repeat what he said in private. He has a right to be the first to put his position out there.

            However yesterday he tweeted a very clear position on the issue, so I feel it is now appropriate to fill in that blank. I don't like being vague like that however sometimes it's an unfortunate necessity.

            Jonathan Cote has said he is against Translink's UBE proposal. One down, 6 more to convince (or maybe reassure that they were already planning to support the correct side since we don't yet know their positions).

            As for your comment about more people equalling more traffic, why? And how exactly does that work? Where do we put these roads? Where do we put these parking lots the cars will need? The whole idea is we need to move people out of their cars. More people ARE coming to the region, the goal should be despite more people, no more cars. Get these new and existing people on to transit, which can be scaled up to meet the population demands, unlike road building.

            As for if population growth is a good thing in general. The planet is overpopulated, no doubt about it. Encouraging smaller families around the world should be a goal, (this might not be politically correct but) I personally would like to see a goal of shrinking the global population by 1-3 billion by 2100. Unfortunately that likely isn't going to happen, but hopefully we can at least stablize the population.

            Regardless of growth or shrinking, there will continue to be an influx of people to Canada and Vancouver simply because climate change will create an enormous amount of climate refuges. People who's land will become uninhabitable not by anything of their doing but because of our unwillingness to curb our emissions. The goal has to be to develop a plan on how to house and transport them around the region which is sustainable and leads to healthier more livable communities. And it most certainly can't involve paving over massive amounts of farm land, since we'll need to feed ourselves in this changed world as well.

            So how do we do this? Little steps. Preventing projects like the UBE which re-enforce our car dependent culture. Drawing that line in the sand saying we're finished with road building, time to move in another direction. A direction that can work for all of us. Will it be easy? No. Will we have to make some sacrifices? Definitely. But it's the new reality of the world we've created by our own actions.

          3. Sorry about my tone Mother, I will moderate to an F sharp.

            Thanks for coming out of the closed chambers.
            Why do more people = more traffic. Well, for one thing, we don't work where we live anymore. We rely on food being shipped to us. We buy products that come from overseas in containers and are delivered by truck to the places we shop. We need to build more houses for these people so we need more trucks hauling concrete and stuff.
            Where do we put these roads ? Where people go. Buses need roads to you know.

            As for the people immigrating to our region that is a federal issue being addressed.
            It's been well established that North America has been suffering negative population growth and to fill in the gaps of our inverted population pyramid, the strategy – immigration.
            So when a wealthy foreigner wants to immigrate to Canada, you can tell him, sure welcome to Canada, you can buy a house, start a business, but sorry no cars for newcomers. Sure.

            As for your projections of the worlds population by 2100, I'm sorry, but currently the world has 7 billion, and is projected to 10 billion in a short 25-30 years. Sadly it was recently reported that the worlds fresh water supply will sustain population growth to 2030. Plants need water more then your toilette.

            And thus we have some real insight into the reason why our region is experiencing such growth. Our abundance of water, which will become so precious in such a short time.
            Our Co2 emissions havn't altered the planet in such a way that people will be climate refugees. That is perhaps a century away, not the problems of the next decade or two.

            I think if this route will save people time in their commute which saves gas, etc. then its a good thing, and even better the feds are kicking in some cash. Sorry if that means your house gets bought out, but it's in the greater good of a infrastructure.
            Even a horse and buggy would save some time taking a short cut.

          4. Thanks Rick. I love the debate going on here, but it's my job to try to keep things civil.

            Personally, I side with NWEP. I think TransLink should prioritize funding the Evergreen Line, as this would do far more to move people in the region than expanding United Boulevard. We should do our best to create alternatives to driving rather than simply expanding roads.

            However, there is certainly another side to the story, and this comment thread would be far less lively without someone weighing in on the other side!

  11. JIm you should ask city hall why you were not included on the stake holder list, I understand that there were a lot of stake holders that were left on the list.

  12. There is a large group of Sapperton residents organzing and planning to attend the Open House on Thursday. We are dropping off flyers at every house possible so that all area residents are aware of the plans and know they can find out more and also voice their opinions on Thursday. We have also emailed the Mayor and all Council members asking them to confirm their attendance at the Open House. Jaimie McEvoy has an Out Of Office message (away until the 25th) and Lorrie William replied that she is in Ottawa this week. Waiting for the rest of the replies. Also emailed our federal and provincial reps. Dawn Black is not available but her assistant Linda Asgeirsson will attend. Waiting to hear back from Finn Donnelly.

  13. A parent told me that there was a very well attended DPAC meeting last night and traffic/air quality was a hot topic. A motion was passed to send a delegation to the next school board meeting to request air quality monitoring around local schools. I think everyone should be demanding air quality testing.

  14. Boo Hoo !

    Personally, I don't care. New West is a transportation corridor, has been, always will be. What did you expect Mathew ? I guess your contact at translink is so "high up" if you named names you would be assassinated. Go ahead, try pitching our def council in charge of the biggest nothing.

    I can guarantee that you will make no difference. Give your head a shake, and take a look at a map.

    New West is not a destination.

    1. thanks for the resource there, Rick. That only makes our point stronger. Many plans made in the 1998 report you link to, which were intended to address some traffic issues in the City, have been ignored. The report also make a compelling case for limiting the number of increased lanes into and out of the City, and argues that expansion on front street is not in the city's interest. Good stuff!

      1. No problem Pat, Someone had to step up to the table with something more then translinks Buzzer.
        And it's not about traffic issues in our city down the street where you live, It's about the N-S E-W corridors THRU new west. Does anyone know how many vehicles pass thru new west on a daily basis without stopping ? I thought all you green gills would be clamoring for bike lanes. All I read in this is NIMBY. Yet last week you had some future transportation meeting, and was this on the table for discussion ? It must be brand new news to you all ! Boo hoo, so they expropriate some more of new wests prized sapperton real estate, what will council do ? Increase zoning density perhaps ? Hmmmmm this regional growth is quiet a conundrum isn't it !

        1. Thanks for your input Rick. I think you are a little out of touch, but I encourage you to show up on Thursday as well and learn a bit.

          We did have a talk about this last Thursday, but we fortuitously scheduled the NWEP meeting the same day as Translink's roll out of this plan to "stakeholders", so it was a little premature fir us to organize a response. It is only coming out of last week's meeting that the public response you are seeing (thanks mostly to the efforts of the NWEP) is happening.

          This is very far from a NIMBY issue. We want this federal and regional money to be spent on the Evergreen Line: we want other areas to have access to transit that New Westminster enjoys.

          I do not see how “regional growth” pertains to this issue. New Westminster will take it’s share of population as the region grows, but this project actually erodes our housing and business area. The density gains we have already agreed to regionally will not be served by this project.

          1. Yawn….
            How does regional growth pertain to this issue. Let me think for a pico second.


            And as for having to wait for translinks roll out to stakeholders is an excuse for your NWEP groups limited foresight and evedentally poor event planning.

            A few questions you might be able to help the group with –
            1) When was the last time land was expropriated from New West for regional transportation ?
            2) How many vehicles pass thru New West without stopping

            New West is one big bottleneck on everyone elses way home. So they cut thru your hood and race down the street to shave minutes of their commute. Boo Hoo, I told you guys to look at a map ! New West is that small little peanut with what, 85k people, surrounded by communities with hundreds of thousands of people !
            Think globally act locally ?
            More "green" rhetoric

          2. Rick, Thanks for the constructive input. But with all due respect, you are wrong, and caps-lock does not make a statement more truthful.

            Growth does not = more roads, nor does it = more cars. If you saw Jerry’s talk at the successful NWEP Forum you would have learned that the City of Vancouver, since 1997, has had an increase in population of about 25%, and increase in jobs of about 22%, and a *decrease* in the number of cars entering the City of about 18%. Their alternative mode share goes up, their private automobile mode share goes down. They (and too many other cities to list here) have proven that population and job growth do not require the building of more roads.

          3. Your right, I'm wrong. Thanks for making that clear. Caps lock can't help a wrong person. My opinion is invalid.

            So, Growth = more bicycles and skateboards

            Sorry, didn't see Jerry's talk, did see Stephen Reeds blog about it. Your numbers don't quiet match what I remember, and what I remember most is the sample dates. You see data is easily manipulated. So for example if between 1997-2005 we have 27% growth, well, so what ? Thats a specific time index selected to give that result. Maybe if the data was from 1990 to 2000 it would be 15 percent, if it was 2000-2010 it would be 34 %. If you wanted a good data set, have everything in the same time frames. I also remember his notes had things like 180 percent bike use increase, what does that mean ? It's Olympic fodder ! Ofcourse Vancouvers core is seeing a decrease in cars ,parking lots don't make as much money as high-rise condo's and office buildings.

            Now how can we compare Vancouver with New West ? They don't compare. New west is a hilly place. I can barely walk up some of the hills. I couldn't imagine trying to peddle a bike up, let alone going down ! So I'm afraid your concept of getting people out of cars and riding bikes and walking in new west isn't as simple as cloning Vancouvers master plans.

            This is about moving people more quickly to their destinations and has the potential to alleviate some of the congestion we already have daily in New West. I think it's high time translink started doing something. So what if a few people have to move.

          4. Yes but Patrick the hills of New Westminster and oh yea the hills of New Westminster play a big role in our transportation challenges. Also you forget that 1/2 the population in New Westminster is retired or close to retirement. They simply can't walk up the hills!
            I suppose the NWEP solution would be to give every household an electric assisted bike like the city gives it employee's. Oh but the rain oh ya the rain…….will it ever end now get back in your car and drive to the appointment!
            Vancouver can do all kinds of things our city simply cannot accomplish when you consider our layout and our population. It's a poor example for what we need. New West has to catch up to the past…grid lock = pollution surely this has not escaped the green vision. We need people out of cars for sure but we don't need them sitting in traffic waiting to get out of New Westminster. Good luck if you think our bedroom community will be able to act in isolation…..

          5. And just how will opening the door to more traffic solve New Westminster's traffic problems? I hear a lot of blind faith statements that if we just build the road everything will get better. Sorry I've been to too many places that did that and they simply have the same problems we have, but just more of it.

            If you really want to solve traffic problems you have to admit that at least one of the possible solutions is to have less of it. This can only be accomplished by not opening the door to more of it, and by providing quality alternatives to driving. (and by reducing the need to make some of the trips in the first place). Before we spend $100s of millions of tax payer money on something that probably will make the problem worse, I'd like to see what we could do with the same money put towards getting people out of their cars…

  15. Huh. I don't see how this benefits New West. There is already a ton of truck traffic on McBride (I know, I stand there and wait for my bus everyday hoping that I don't get hit by speeding flatbeds) so why add to it?

    I say spend the money on the Evergreen Line. I thought that the West Coast was supposed to be front runners on green projects. How is making driving easier while causing more pollution (air, visual, noise) green?

  16. I think the city should rethink their proposals. If the plan is to now direct all the new truck and car traffic from the new Pattullo and United Blvd. projects down past the new peir park they are going 10 lanes not four on Front Street.

    1. Just a note, this is not the city's proposal. Our council has not yet developed an (ahem) voice on the subject.

  17. Something that keeps coming to my mind is that driving a car is not a right. Being able to move around the city is important, but I think we should be encouraging more folks to try and live and work close to their homes. Not only does it lower commute times, but it also is a better bet in the event of a natural disaster like an earthquake. I try and stick close to home for almost everything and I 100% reject the notion of commuting for 2+ hours in from the Valley. There isn't an immediate solution as I see it, but encouraging people to at least consider and think about it when they find employment and housing is a step in the right direction.

    1. This is something I've often thought of – and it mirrors our talks about this when the Patullo Bridge was closed down for a week and it seemed like the world would end.

      I strongly believe that people should include the length of their commute and proximity to work in their decisions of home buying (or renting) and in job searches. It's not something you can regulate or make a rule about, but it's just good sense – whether you have kids in school, drive, take transit or walk, considering this proximity carefully is important. Somewhere along the line we fell for the idea that it's our right to live wherever the heck we want to live and drive as much as we want to.

      It's not just "green gills" to talk about this, it's good economic, social and community sense. It's just a hard subject to broach because of the external pressures like difficulty finding jobs, economic downturn and the very very low vacancy rate in our region.

  18. This all sounds like another package deal! Wayne gets his cash cow garbage incinerator on the Canfor lands in a trade with metro Vancouver for approval of the United Blvd and Pattullo projects

  19. We need more affordable and effective rapid transit. The Federal Government should put the 65 million towards completion of the Evergreen Line rather than pump it into the NFPR.

  20. Mayor Wright has confirmed that he will be attending tonight's Open House. He also was interviewed on CBC Radio this morning and seemed to strongly state that the City was only interested in supporting the T-Junction option.

    1. Why would be want the T-junction option, or any of the options?

      First, the T-Junction doesn't solve the problem Translink is trying to solve, which is to keep trucks (and cars) moving. It will involve a traffic light, so vehicles will still have to stop, idle, and spew fumes starting up again. That's not a benefit for New Westminster or the region.

      Second, where does this traffic go? With no commitment on what or when will be done further down the road. With the Queensborough already "upgrades" and traffic STILL backs up all the way to 4th, what exactly will this overpass accomplish except move the traffic jam a kilometre down the road IN TO New Westminster. We must take Vancouver's policy of ZERO net traffic increase in the city. If more people need to be moved, any increase in mobility must come from other transportation modes. It's the only sustainable and affordable option.

      1. Listen to the rhetoric "stop, idle, and spew fumes starting up again." better to stop and go then crawl at a snails pace. I read someone else talk about "trucks belching diesel" – do they not know diesel is the most efficient motor and fuel for transportation ? What you want gasoline fueled trucks so you don't have to see the opacity during acceleration ?

        Again, trying to clone Vancouver. We are not an end of land, we are a middle peanut ! Want to see bottlenecks head down to highway 99 where it's a daily event into the tunnel. Sometimes that traffic stretches clear cross Richmond to the Oak st bridge.

        Real easy for Vancouver to make a Zero traffic increase policy when you can't fit anymore !

        1. "Real easy for Vancouver to make a Zero traffic increase policy when you can't fit anymore ! "

          You keep making our points for us Rick! That is exactly what we are saying. New Westminster can't fit any more in our little "peanut", so it is time to adopt a Zero Traffic Increase policy.

          1. And this UBE is going to increase the traffic volume by what sensational amount ?
            What 2x more traffic ? 5x ? 100x ? How many times do I have to ask ?
            You don't answer because you know the answer and it doesn't help your argument !

      2. Doesn't the "T" junction at least get truck traffic off Braid?
        I too prefer the option of zero net traffic increase to the city, but I'm torn by the reality of all those cars trying to cross the train tracks after coming off the bridge from Coquitlam. I realize that's not a mess of New West's making, but that train intersection is dangerous.

        1. Yes, there are many vehicles trying to cross at Braid. You say "cars" which is very interesting since this whole project is billed as a TRUCK route. The existing United and bridge over to Braid is suppose to be a TRUCK route. So why is it filled with all these cars? It's not suppose to be a commuter route to begin with, so why are we concerned about these cars?

          I personally say break the connection at the NW-Coquitlam border. They're currently building the Prince Edward overpass connecting United to Lougheed, bridging the tracks at that point, there will be a route for traffic from United to the larger arterial roads, so why do we need this one which will create increased pollution in New Westminster and erode our tax base?

          Let's finish the Prince Edward overpass and the Evergreen Line, evaluate what those do for regional transportation demand, and then we can talk about the NFPR. And when/if we do, let's talk about it as an entire project/corridor rather than piecemeal like we are now. Because if we really are designing transportation networks you can't do so in disjoint pieces.

          Stop the UBE and let's take a look at the region's transportation needs and what this all means for sustainable people and goods movement from a higher level.

  21. Mayor Richard Stewart said in an interview Tuesday. "We now have commitments from New Westminster that the project ought to go ahead. We've got them to sign off, we've got [the City of Coquitlam to sign off]."

    Read more: http://www.thenownews.com/news/Agreement+United+B

    Told ya you'd loose ! It's practically a done deal already as reported by the Now news.

    1. Rick, Mayor Steward mispoke, something he does frequently. Watch for a retraction in the next paper.

  22. Thank you for posting this Rick.
    It's another "done deal" in New Westminster. Lip service once again as the deal gets done behind closed doors. When will the people in this city realize the city, mayor and council don't care what we have to say. Its time for a wholesale change from elected officials to the planning department. Frankly we should be mad as he!! and refuse to take it anymore.

  23. Hi Matt, great to hear your thoughts on the priorities! I’ll share this with the project team as well to ensure your comments are captured.

    I just wanted to clarify one thing. I passed along the issue you’ve raised regarding the funding situation to our planning staff. It’s slightly tricky to explain but the gap is not quite what is suggested. So here is (hopefully) a good explanation of what is happening:

    First, yes, you are right that there remains a funding gap for the project, and negotiations are underway to include additional agencies as project funders. Both of the 2011 Supplemental Plan options include TransLink’s partnership contribution of $60 million to the project. The Federal Government has committed another $65 million. The project is estimated to cost $153 million, leaving a gap of $29 million still to be funded.

    Second, the $53.2 million “financial impact” you refer to isn’t the amount TransLink will contribute (that’s $60M) but is rather the “net cost” to TransLink of the project over the next 10 years.

    To explain what “net cost” means, a home mortgage provides a useful comparison. Say you buy a house for the price of $600,000. Over the lifetime of your mortgage, you don’t actually end up paying $600,000 exactly—you’ll put in a down payment, plus payments over the years that will add up to a higher amount than $600,000, owing to interest and the like. Our “net financial impact” is roughly equivalent to adding up all the mortgage payments that you’d make over the years, and taking that total.

    So just to bring it back to the United Boulevard project, the $53.2 million “net cost” refers to the total value of the “mortgage payments” we would pay on our investment into the project over the next 10 years.

    Hope this helps!


  24. I am not a resident of New Westminster but sympathize. This is not a clearly laid out plan and is not to the city's benefit. Force them to make changes

    1. This is not a clearly laid out plan ?

      Re-read Mathews first paragraph ; "If you’ve ever wondered why Skytrain has a dip in the guideway along Brunette, it isn’t to create a roller-coaster experience, but was designed to accommodate an overpass connected to United Boulevard in Coquitlam with Brunette Avenue."

      so. when was that dip put in ? How many years ago ? And its not a clearly laid out plan ?

      Sounds to me like it's been "part of the plan" for a long time !
      This translink open house will be nothing but a "canned" presentation of facts, therefore, I need not attend.

  25. A very good article Matt. The meeting tonight was attended by the Mayor, Councillors McEvoy (myself), Cote, Harper and McIntosh, by MP Fin Donelly, and a represenative of MLA Dawn Black's office.

    I'm proud of the showing and the interest of people who attended tonight.

    Far from encouraging people to accept the situation, I encourage people to be informed and engaged. Check out the Translink website, call their offices, send in letters and emails.

    I encourage people to look at the other Tenth to the Fraser posting on the city's response to media in Coquitlam:

    And please, feel free to let me know what you think, jmcevoy@newwestcity.ca. The more people who comment and share their views, the more there is to take to Translink and pursue this issue on behalf of New Westminster.

    Thanks, and nice to see so many people tonight. We'll be discussing this at City Council on Monday.

  26. The McBride-Sapperton Residents Association (MSRA) has now booked the Sapperton Pensioner’s Hall for December 1st at 7:00 p.m. to aid us in our discussion regarding the United Boulevard Extension proposal. This is with the hope that we can come to some kind of consensus as a community as to what is best for us and what we can and cannot support. This will be an opportunity for people to feel that they can come together as a community and share frustrations and get organized. The MSRA has a history and experience of taking action on issues. The MSRA can respond on behalf of the community if there is some consensus regarding the options and the community as a whole will be taken more seriously if something goes to council through the MSRA. The mayor and city councilors have been invited to attend. Please get the word out ASAP, as this is short notice and a very busy time of year.

  27. Most of the federal funds are contingent on provincial funding and municipal/regional funding, leading to a 3 way split. The province is likely also offering up in the area of $50M, which makes the Translink contribution make sense.

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