City of New West denies United Boulevard Extension is a done deal

TransLink’s United Boulevard Extension plans are a hot topic in New West. The article we ran earlier calling for citizens to come out to the upcoming public consultation meetings and speak out against the plans has become the most-commented post in our blog’s history.

A number of comments in that post referenced an article written in the Coquitlam Now about the project that led some people to believe New West had already given approval to proceed, which the City says is not the case. The City of New Westminster forwarded me the following letter to the editor from Mayor Wayne Wright in response to the Now article. Given the interest in this topic, I asked for permission to repost the letter here on Tenth to the Fraser. Read it, and make up your own mind.

I’d like to encourage anyone who feels strongly about the UBE project (on either side) to come out to the two public open houses tonight (Nov. 18), 5:30-8pm at the Justice Institute and Nov. 25, 5:30-8:30 at Place Des Arts in Coquitlam.

Here’s the letter our mayor sent to the Coquitlam Now on behalf of Council:

The following is the text of a letter to the editor sent by Mayor Wayne Wright to the Coquitlam Now earlier today:

November 18, 2010

Editor

Coquitlam Now

editorial@thenownews.com

Re. Agreement on United Boulevard plans (Coquitlam Now, November 17, 2010)

Dear Editor:

The title of your story on the current status of TransLink’s proposals for a United Boulevard Extension project leaves the impression that the City of New Westminster has given approval for specific plans to proceed. This is not the case.

In 2007, New Westminster city council provided conditional support to TransLink’s funding application to Transport Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway Program for the United Boulevard Extension component of the North Fraser Perimeter Road (NFPR.) Attached to that conditional support were a series of requirements that New Westminster council must see fulfilled should a United Boulevard Extension project move ahead.

Fast forward to July 2010 when City of New Westminster and Coquitlam councils met to discuss mutual concerns and priorities regarding TransLink’s proposed NFPR plans as well as Province of BC plans for the Highway 1/Port Mann Project in the area of the Brunette Interchange. At our meeting we passed the following resolution:

THAT…both municipalities share a common voice in recommending that TransLink seek funding to match the federal grant contribution of $65 million for the United Boulevard Project as well as to continue working with senior levels of government, and other affected stakeholders, in regards to collectively resolving transportation network requirements and connections in proximity of Highway 1 and the Brunette Interchange.

In the first case, the intent was to ensure that the interests of New Westminster residents were protected and, in both, that funding is available if and when sign-off is achieved for a United Boulevard Extension.

TransLink is currently holding public consultation meetings in New Westminster and Coquitlam to gather feedback from citizens in both communities on several United Boulevard Extension options. The City of New Westminster has encouraged residents and stakeholders to attend these open houses to express their views on TransLink plans. Once that consultation is complete, New Westminster council will review the results carefully before making a decision to support or reject TransLink’s proposal on a United Boulevard Extension.

While Coquitlam certainly deals with its fair share of traffic, by virtue of our location at the centre of Metro Vancouver, New Westminster is forced to bear an undue burden with literally hundreds of thousands of regional commuter vehicles passing through on our streets each and every day. In light of this reality, New Westminster city council will examine any transportation project proposed within our boundaries very carefully, taking into account the views of our residents as well as the impact on the quality of life we work so hard to maintain for our citizens.

Sincerely,

Mayor Wayne Wright

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46 thoughts on “City of New West denies United Boulevard Extension is a done deal”

  1. I'm not very impressed by the low quality of the maps (well, map) the province seems to offer for the NFPR route through New West. I'm not very impressed with the implications, either: depending on how major the upgrades to the existing infrastructure are, I'm concerned that it could end up cutting off downtown from the waterfront – or at least producing a significant psychological barrier like the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto.

  2. Thanks for posting that Briana. We were all a little perplexed by the Coquitlam Now article, and many of us thought we were getting bamboozled… The message above was reiterated by the Mayor and Councillor Harper last night at the Open House.

    The open house was really well attended, thanks for helping get the word out! I don’t think TransLink was prepared for the number of people they saw (I arrived less than an hour into a 3-hour consultation, and they had already run out of Comments forms- apparently the JI has a photocopier, because more arrived later).

    I posted some of my comments on the forum over at greennewwest.blogspot.com

    Short version: the fight is not over, but I am encouraged by what I heard from the public in attendance, and by what was said by the Mayor and the Councillors I chatted with.

  3. The letter is damage control.

    Our Mayor is not refuting Mayor Richards statements, nor Councilor Mae Reid telling us what a "superb" job the planning departments have done together. Good legal advice !

    But to his credit, our mayor does admit that the two councils met in July to discuss, and he does recognize the fact that vehicles are moving thru our town and not stopping because it is a transportation corridor. (copy that Pat and Mat ?)

    I also find it very interesting that soon after I posted that link to the article we have a "coquitlam person" making comments about their mayor words. I didn't know this blogs influence was so FAR reaching.

    Funny how it all works isn't it Mother ?

    Long version : Mat and Pat are learning about Lemons, Limes and Grapefruits !

    1. It'd definitely damage control, but that doesn't mean it's not truthful. It's up to each of us to decide whether we believe what the letter says. I just wanted to represent both sides.

      As for the Coquitlam person, I don't know who that is – the email address & handle are new to this site's comments. We do have readers who live outside New West (some who work in New West, some who visit frequently and some who used to live here and still feel an attachment to our town). We are not the biggest blog on the block, but we do pretty well. Over the past 30 days we've had over 5,000 visitors and almost 10,000 pageviews. Almost 2,000 were viewing our site from New West.The rest were from Vancouver, Burnaby, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and other nearby areas.

      1. I never *specific*ally said it wasn't truthful.

        And for your misquoting pleasure :

        "…the City of New Westminster has given approval for specific plans to proceed."
        Well, even without misquoting, he still uses the adjective "specific" before plans.
        And ofcourse
        "both municipalities share a common voice in *recommending* that TransLink seek funding to match the federal grant contribution of $65 million for the United Boulevard Project"

        So, thats like saying, hey translink, go find us some money to match the feds to do this UBE, and then when translink finally does – albeit a few bucks short – well, we might not be interested anymore because some half-informed constituents are causing negative images in the media.

        and congratulations Mother on your latest hi-score at blogger.

        1. Your criticism of the mayor's letter is fair, Rick, but I will warn you one final time to keep your tone respectful. I have a name. Only my kids get to call me mother.

          1. For my tone I must atone.

            While you have declared your bias, I have been called mis-informed and made to feel like my viewpoint is worthless by those presenting their sensational agenda under the guise of the environment.

            Thank you so much for the distinguished honour of being the child in your grown up debate.

          2. I can see how you might feel that way, as one of the few (and maybe only) dissenting voices in the comment thread. If it helps, I don't believe your viewpoint is worthless at all. I was glad to see someone come in with an opposing viewpoint.

            In my opinion (and I do have one – I am not a reporter who must refute any appearance of bias) this is a debate worth having. Without you, the comments would have been a chorus of 'amens' and not a debate at all.

            It takes bravery to voice a dissenting opinion in a forum where a lot of strong voices stand against you. Your criticism would be better heard, however, if you could keep your focus on the issues rather than talking smack about your neighbours here in New West and putting down your host through name-calling and sarcasm.

          3. In the Now News it seems a few other people feel differently, albeit in a different town. Is their viewpoint worthless ?!? The paper even quoted the Mallardville Residents Association President. He says it's a step in the right direction. He must have a worthless mis- informed viewpoint as well ?!?. And let's not forget the mayor has allegedly stated he is in favour of the T junction on the CBC radio. His viewpoint must be worthless too ?!? Talking smack. I didn't know on the other end of my typing oral speech is reproduced. How does my voice sound ?!? Mother was a joke, so was F Sharp. Sorry for typing smack ?!? Word up ?!?

          4. I just said that I am glad someone is representing the other point of view. One side, opposing the UBE, is very well represented here. It's good that the other POV is getting some representation. Once again, it is certainly not worthless.

            A problem with text-based communication is that jokes often don't translate well. Your comments have come across very abrasive, but maybe you don't intend for that to happen. If I've mistaken your intent and misread your tone, I apologize.

    2. Rick, I don't think I fully understand your position. Are you advocating that because of our central geography, New West should just live with any transportation plan the region wants to build? I can't get a clear read on what your opinion is on this topic.

      New West already supports more than its share of regional transportation corridors. We have no surplus land and our residential neighbourhoods already see crouding by through traffic (and rat runners). We have established traffic corridors, options. Now is the time to hold the line and say no to this project and no to any increase in vehicles entering our city. It is not a case of NIMBY it is IMBYA as in In My Back Yard Already. Is this not a view you share?

      1. Mr. T, my position is from a regional aspect (kinda like think globally act locally )

        How can New West support more then its share ?

        Thats like saying, people have to get off skytrain and take a bus around new westminster, then get back on skytrain so they don't use up our section. What kind of logic is that ? If it's not NIMBY its NIMCity. Like delta closing the tunnel ! Or how about the Alex Fraiser ? Let them start restricting people trying to get to Surrey thru delta ! HA

        Thats what I get from your folks side.
        So does your side make any projections of the volume increase thru our city ? No wild guesses ?
        Our planning departments must have done some "superb" research into this by now and should be able to give a figure ! Whats the damage Mack ?

        1. Traffic is already coming through New Westminster. All Translink wants to do is invite more traffic by making the Bailey Bridge a four-lane highway, essentially turning a former short-cut used by a few into a main thoroughfare. There is absolutely nothing being done to control congestion in New West. What they really should be doing is using that money for another major project, say, a rapid transit line like the ever-promised Evergreen. It seems so silly that to take advantage of a $65 million-dollar gift, they're willing to spend an additional $100 on something that is unnecessary and not wanted by New Westminsterites.

          And don't forget that people are at risk of losing their homes here. Why should that be acceptable in a community that has no way of extending its area of growth?

          1. If it is not wanted by New Westminsterites, why has the mayor stated his position on the CBC radio in favour of a T junction (apparently). Both councils have met to discuss this, and both cities planning departments have been doing a "superb" job working thru the issues.
            This is not news people. It's been in the plans for along time.

            And now your last paragraph complains that we have no avenue for growth ourselves !

            If we can't grow, no other community should !!!

          2. Rick said: If we can't grow, no other community should !!!

            Not at all, but I don't think we should be taking land away from NW residents so that we can accommodate the traffic of other cities. And yes, I understand your point about dividing the same amount of traffic among three routes. But let's face the reality. Traffic will increase because more people will be living out in the Valley (that's where urban sprawl is heading). So rather than make it easier for people to use their cars to commute, let's work on other options. Wouldn't rail to and from the Valley be better?

        2. Rick asked: "So does your side make any projections of the volume increase thru our city ? No wild guesses ? Our planning departments must have done some "superb" research into this by now and should be able to give a figure ! Whats the damage Mack ?"

          Funny you should mention that, Rick. We asked one of the reps from Translink how these new plans would affect traffic going up and along Braid/8th Ave. She said that they hadn't looked into it. I guess Translink thought we'd be so excited about getting a new bike lane connecting Sapperton to an industrial area (via a cloverleaf overpass) that we wouldn't dare say no to their plans. Not so…

          1. Well, this is my simplified math on the subject.

            We have X number of vehicles on these roads.
            Making a shortcut does not increase the number X going to destination Y
            It divides the number X as people travel to destination Y and destination Z
            What will increase the value of X ?
            Tough question – I know !
            You give ?
            Ok, the answer is more people.
            More people means more trucks, buses, bikes, skateboards and cars.
            Simple arithmetic

          2. If you want to understand the math of this, you need to read about the Braess Paradox and Implied Demand. I won't go into Braess here, as it is a big internet (code for "google it yourself") The ideas are fundamental to what we are discussing here.

          3. Yeah, I'm sure in awe of this paradox. I'm overwhelmed with the complexity !

            Every trucker, who need to haul his load from point A to point B will decide to take a longer route, burn more fuel, and spend more time to satisfy your ideologies of saving the environment by restricting the flow of traffic so engine are running idle in traffic jams then actually doing work.

            Hey, Let's clone vancouvers anti-idle bylaw ! That will fix the problem of pollution when traffic is backlogged ! Start small ! Your group isn't ready to solve the big problems yet, that what professional engineers are for.

            Btw – if those idea's are SO fundamental, why have you waited till now to reveal them ?

          4. Rick, I didn’t invent the Braess, it is a fundamental principle of traffic systems. You raised the spectre of the “math” of this, and I provided the foundation mathematics. You respond by calling it my “ideology”. Well, if reality based on a foundation of mathematics and scientific principles is an “ideology”, I think that is one on which I’ll hang my hat.   

          5. So a mathematical paradox is the foundation on which you hang your hat on this debate of the UBE, and not "real world" empirical data.

            Very good then !
            We have distilled your position to it's essence !

            (wiki paste) "Braess's paradox is about as likely to occur as not occur"

        3. I think the ideal would be to learn from Vancouver's success at manipulating mode share to reduce car traffic even though more people are actually entering downtown these days. The trick is to provide and encourage alternate transportation options: SkyTrain, bus, bike, walk, streetcar, ferry, whatever. Anything but more roads and more cars.

          As long as it is faster and easier to drive, people will continue to make that choice. Make it faster and easier to take transit or make other choices, and we'll have better success getting people out of their cars.

  4. Regarding the "T" junction: I spoke to a Sapperton resident at the meeting who said he has been following the issue for several years and the "T" junction option was the only option he had ever heard mentioned before. The cloverleaf options were all new to him. So yes, the "T" junction has been in the plans for a long time, but not all the options have been.
    I think it's pretty understandable that people are upset. Even if they aren't all environmentalists, it's understandable they don't want their homes torn down.
    At any rate, Translink has apparently decided to have another meeting with a Q & A session, though no date has yet been announced (accordintg to a story in the NewsLeader).

  5. Why were more community reps not invited to the city/Translink stake holder meeting at Westminster club? Who at the city was responsible for generating the local stake holder list for Translink? After all these communication mistakes will there be an apology and a new stake holder meeting scheduled?

  6. The city should have more stake holder meeting s on the UBE. I’m not sure what happened at the 1st meeting but the 2nd meeting at the JI was a joke. Who at the city would be responsible for getting the message out?

    1. My understanding is that the first meeting was not open to the public. It has been widely criticized for the people and groups not included and the notice given for attendance.
      The second did seem to be on short notice also but was widely publicized. I know at least two of the council who tried to bring in as many as possible.

      It is Translink that wants this. New West can do with out it; in fact would be better with no change to the Bailey Bridge at all.

  7. With close to 500,000 cars going through Monday through Friday, it would be a lot beter if we could train our local population to just walk or take the bus that way when all these new proposed roads and bridges are finished and bring in an additional 500,000 cars the local…..

  8. Good job getting the UBE story out to the public Will, I wonder who directed the Record not to report on what happen at the JI in their weekend paper? City spin doctor?

  9. To City Spin Doctor: (if that is your real name!)
    I did not write the UBE article, although I am interested in the topic. Mr. Laird passed this one on to Tenth to the Fraser.
    Also, I was expecting to see a note in the Record about the meeting but it did not make it in I guess. They have 2 related articles on Nov 17th however.
    Lastly, I personally have seen no evidence that the Record or the Leader is under any influence from us or the city. Do you have any context to your remark?
    Thanks for commenting!

  10. Could it be this story was not given much attention by the Royal City Record because the Record does not think the story is that big of a deal? Not sure how that works – close to 350 upset people show up to a public meeting (most of these people were not invited to the City/Translink intial stake holder meeting) and it's no big deal?

  11. No point in speculating and no point in the Record reporting the JI meeting? It a done deal and the public will just have to accept it!

    1. No, you have misunderstood me. I agree with you that the Record & Newsleader ought to report on events like the JI meeting. All I'm saying is that speculating about why something wasn't covered in the comments on our blog won't get you answers because we don't have any insight into how the local papers' newsrooms make those editorial decisions. If you really are upset about the lack of coverage, the best thing to do is to take it up with them. Their phone numbers and email addresses are on their websites, or you can follow up on Twitter: @pattracy is the Record's editor.

      1. http://communities.canada.com/VANNET/blogs/onlyne

        They've done a story now (online) and apparently there will be one in tomorrow's paper.

        Speaking from my experience of newsrooms, I'd guess the reason they didn't cover the JI meeting was because the meeting was on a Thursday and the next Record wouldn't be out until Saturday. I'd guess they made the decision that there'd be a lot of competing coverage anyway and chose to save a reporter for another story.
        A lot of newsroom decisions are made because there's a limited number of staff to cover a limitless number of stories. It would be nice to have 24-7 coverage, but given the limitations of print, that's not going to happen. I would like to give kudos to the Record for their online coverage and note they have covered some local stories very quickly, for example, Belle Puri's move back to the CBC after Campbell's resignation. That, I'm pretty sure, was a scoop on all major media in the province.

  12. I'm still waiting for the Coquitlam Now to acknowledgment of our Mayor's letter.
    And the retraction the so called "coquitlam person" suggested because their mayor miss-spoke.

    So far nothing.
    The media must all be getting their "stories straight".
    I'll also be turning on the boob tube to watch council tonight after Mr. McEvoy's comment stated it would be talked about.

    I don't blame them for keeping property owners out of "stakeholder" meetings. Nothing would ever get done with that lot of crybabies. The real stakeholders are the truckers, construction workers, engineers, planners, pavers, and of course the motorists who will benefit from this project The money earmarked for this goes right into our local economy. Can't say no to that !

  13. I was looking at a news website, and came across a tweeter screen, and clicked on something and found myself on a facebook with all these tweets about tonight's meeting. (funny how that happens)

    The top part seems to suggest that a motion was passed to scold translink ? I felt it was about taking the meetings from closed session to open session. It's been in the works for sometime, and now the cats out of the bag so to speak. Why should translink be scolded for doing what best for the people ?

    Then some of the silly comments I saw… The first one is by Matthew Laird suggesting the cities website is weeks out of date., thats funny, I found the schedule easy enough and up to date…. Then Mat goes on about how Council "just doesn't get it". Well Mat, if you can't find the schedule and then declare the website at fault, how am I supposed to believe you "get" anything ? He continues on about people taking short cuts thru New Westminster. Its really sad that you still don't understand that people need to drive thru New Westminster to get where they're going. You want people to drive around New West ? Thats really sustainable.

    I would like to see every city you have to go through to get to your destination say "Sorry go around, we don't want YOUR traffic".

    I thought I would post it here, because I don't know how to make a tweeter. And maybe other people don't either.

    1. Just a note. We already have the traffic. The debate is weather to have ever so much more and destroy a historic neighbourhood in the process.

      1. Mr. T, last night while watching my boob tube there were other votes our council made, some of which had to do with developers wishing to get approval for their residential development projects. I believe one was even in poor 'ol Sapperton. I didn't see a single person come out and say we don't want more traffic in our neighborhood because of this development with variances will increase our neighborhood density. It passed unanimously.

        So exactly WHAT are you typing about ? Your neighborhood is so "historic" it's re-zoning and development proof ? Exactly how snobbish and elite are New West's west end riff raff whom can't afford Vancouver's west end real estate ?

        1. Development does bring more activity to a neighbourhood, but the quality and type of the development makes a big difference to the impacts the neighbourhood sees. The UBE as it has been presented so far will do nothing but choke our streets with pass-through traffic. I don't know the specifics of the developments before council, but usually new developments bring added neighbourhood amenities, and many of them have programs to encourage more sustainable transportation alternatives to driving. The added density of these developments, for example, can make more frequent bus service more cost-effective for TransLink.

          1. A good example is Plaza 88: 600 residences built on top of a Skytrain station within walking distance of numerous amenities. Yes, many of the residents may own cars, but they won't need to use them every day.

            An example of the opposite: Fraser Mills, the proposed development on United Boulevard with 3700 residences, no transit, walkable to nowhere, but a short drive from the … wait for it…. United Boulevard Extension.

          2. Starting a war with Coquitlam's development plans ?
            Take a closer look at your own town before you go pointing the finger !

            I read with astonishment your poop-heat-to-energy-plans on the voice blog !
            You should make a delegation to council on that gem !

          3. Rick, do you have a personal problem with me? Should we get together for coffee to talk about it? I’ll buy. Because I am sure by now, people interested in this blog are getting as tired of your personal vendetta against me as I am. Let’s you and I talk, and save these good people the time.

            Give me a call, 604-525-5009. e-mail me, pdjohnst@telus.net.
            Otherwise, stop hiding behind anonymity and attacking me, and start bringing something constructive to the conversation

          4. Dear Patrick,

            I am sorry that you feel that I have a personal vendetta against you. This is not the case, in our society we all have the right to an opinion, no matter how uninformed or shortsighted it may be. You are a valid human being with thoughts and emotions. I can only express my sincerest regrets that your emotions have clouded your vision of what is sustainable for everyone else.

            Best of luck on your mission to save mankind !
            (sorry I don't drink coffee, imported beans trucked from the 3rd world isn't sustainable)

  14. I've posted 15 slides from TransLink's PowerPoint on the UBE proposal on our Facebook page here (http://on.fb.me/hGVzBh) for anyone who wants a look. I wasn't able to attend the meeting but our reporter Michael McQuillan was there. He said there was talk of TransLink adding a "town hall style" meeting, but we've yet to confirm details. Sounds like TransLink could have run this one better—seems to have raised more questions than it answered.
    —Chris Bryan, NewsLeader

  15. Just heard from TransLink's Ken Hardie, who said they don't have a date or a time yet, but they will be hosting a meeting before Dec. 9 in New West.
    Chris Bryan, NewsLeader

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