What to do about traffic? The candidates weigh in

A constant source of frustration and conflict in New Westminster, traffic is one of the most heated issues in our city right now. This is the second in a series of posts highlighting responses from New Westminster Environmental Partners' mayor and council candidates' survey focusing on environmental issues.

Traffic ranks as one of the top concerns for New West residents. Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd.
Traffic ranks as one of the top concerns for New West residents. Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd.

This is the second in a series of posts highlighting responses from New Westminster Environmental Partners’ mayor and council candidates’ survey focusing on environmental issues. Our first post brought together the mayoral candidates’ answers to NWEP’s questions on local questions related to sustainability. You can read all candidates’ full responses on NWEP’s website. If you’re looking for more information on mayor, council and trustee candidates we have compiled a list of all New Westminster civic election candidates’ websites, Twitter profiles and Facebook pages on Tenth to the Fraser. 

A constant source of frustration and conflict in New Westminster, traffic is one of the most heated issues in our city right now. An outpouring of public protest scuttled the proposed United Boulevard Exchange, but the city remains challenged by the question of how to handle the competing demands on its roads. Truck traffic and downtown commuter traffic from other suburbs regularly clog our streets and the resulting gridlock inspires rampant “rat-running” through normally quiet residential street. The question of what to do about all this isn’t easily answered, as council considers other factors including social, environmental and economic costs.

I have therefore grouped replies from our council candidates based on the emphasis they gave in their answers to the various competing approaches to transportation planning. There is some overlap, so please do read through the candidates’ answers in full, but my hope is that this will give voters a sense of which candidates prioritize improving the flow of car traffic vs. reducing the volume of car traffic, for example, or those who advocate focusing on mitigating imapacts on residential streets vs. more ambitious plans to radically reroute traffic. Replies are from candidates for council, unless otherwise indicated.

The question NWEP asked candidates was this: The City will be developing a Master Transportation Plan within the next term, what would you like to see included in that plan?

Improve the flow of car traffic

James Crosty – Mayoral Candidate
Comprehensive movement plan to get vehicles in and out efficiently instead of building our road network for two or three hours a day. The people that live work and play in New Westminster should not have to endure movement challenges for the other 21 hours a day. The public must play an important role in any plan to be developed.

John Ashdown
I would like to see a plan which plans to do away with $100,000 plans, which simply gets put on the shelf. We need a bypass! We need to work with adjoining communities for a common solution. Develop Stormont. The UBE is unnecessary now they have the King Edward overpass nearing completion. However Brunette, E. Columbia, Front Street and Stewardson Way will need to be a huge part of the Study. Once the South Perimeter Road is complete, I estimate you will see a considerable reduction in traffic heading through New West to Highway #1. We have a whole crew of transportation bureaucrat’s claiming their high salaries are justified. Now is the time to prove it.

Lorrie Williams
A reasonable truck route plan, exploration of the Storemont interchange.

Reduce car traffic, increase transit/cycling/walking

Vance McFadyen – Mayoral Candidate
Regarding developing a workable Master Transportation Plan you have asked a difficult question. The most obvious challenge to me is the re-routing of commercial trucks/vehicles, improved traffic control, improved inner city transit and to create incentives to encourage more foot and bicycle use. A lot of people find it easy to go downhill but not so easy to go uphill.

François Nantel
Better strategy to streamline through traffic like.  Study to see if one- way streets would help, and where. More left hand turn signals (dedicated), or interdiction to turn left. May be a gondola from Columbia Station to the Mall uptown that would run above the low rise on 7th street (they have those in Venezuela).

Jonathan Cote
Given that transportation is such a critical issue in New Westminster, the Master Transportation Plan will be one of the most important documents the upcoming council will be working on. I would like to see this plan focus on increasing the sustainable transportation (walking, cycling and public transportation) mode share in our community. I also feel that this plan needs to focus on improving the integration of land use and transportation planning.

Jaimie McEvoy
Look at options to reduce traffic in New Westminster, and move away from our role as the throughway of the Lower Mainland.

City positions and a plan to pursue them on regional transportation issues and inititatives.

Review the routing and the need for Patullo Bridge, be ready to challenge TransLink when necessary, push the province to reform TransLink to be more responsive to communities, and give greater emphasis to public transit and other modes of transportation.

A solid plan, with targets, timelines, and adequate resources, to make all of our streets safe and fully accessible to all.

Enhance and promote support for walking and cycling in the city – and beyond the city, as part of our connection to regional transportation infrastructure.

Call for improvements to Skytrain and the five stations in New Westminster, and expanded hours of service. Skytrain should be safe, be clean, and be well maintained.

Citizen involvement – a very good program of consultation with citizens, stakeholder groups, and neighbourhoods.

Return Front Street and the waterfront to the people, and restore the natural environment on the waterfront and the heritage buildings on Front Street, by finding parking alternatives to the parkade so that it can be at least partially removed.

Undertake initiatives to support electric vehicles and small personal transportation in the city.
Improve bike and pedestrian pathways by removing obstacles.

David Noshad
‘Walk/bike to work’ is [a] subject that needs close attention. If designed properly, programs like this can reduce daily traffic while improving citizens’ quality of life.

Chuck Puchmayr
We are the thoroughfare of Metro Vancouver, and if you think the traffic is bad now, wait until the new 10 lane Port Mann bridge is open. We need to take advantage of our Chartered control of some of our roads and curb the expansion of the vehicle onslaught into our city. At the same time we need to move people and goods efficiently and creatively.

Focus on quieting residential streets

Betty McIntosh
A continuation of respect for all residential neighbourhoods with reduced impact from motor vehicles. In the plan clear direction of where motor vehicles can go not just where they can not go.

Vladimir Krosnogor
Sensible solutions to out frustrating traffic problems. Reduce traffic in residential areas, not increase it

Bob Osterman
We need to know the BC Gov’t final decision on the Patullo Bridge, also we need the Surrey-Delta South Fraser Perimeter Road to be completed to take truck pressure off of our roadways; Front/Brunette/Stewardson. We need to continue neighborhood traffic calming, and making each neighborhood safely walkable.

Balance needs of all users

Wayne Wright – Mayoral Candidate 
Transportation requirements are complex and issues that we need to address include pedestrian safety at crossings, better facilities for cyclists, transit access and service, reduced volume of regional truck and vehicle traffic, vehicular safety as well as air quality, noise and livability issues. We need to find the best routes for all traffic in the City and how to find the funding that will be required.

Gerry Liu
I would like to see the master transportation plan include a choice to move around the city by foot, bike, bus, Skytrain & car. Consideration for semi trucks must be included as well as handicap & disability services, providing facilities – covered benches, & trees for the environment.

Send traffic ‘around, over or under’ New Westminster

Susan Wandell
Through traffic still needs to be directed to the perimeter of the City. I would support a cut and cover on McBride Blvd. from the Pattullo Bridge through to the Stormont Connector.

Gavin Palmer
Our City is in the unique position of being the ‘keystone’ of the lower mainland and needs to determine its own destiny. As the oldest City in Western Canada, preceding Canada itself, we deserve the respect of the other cities in this region and MUST continue to remind them of this fact. We have no land to devote to expanded roadways and have no funds to pay for regional arteries. With that being stated, we need to work with our neighbors to arrive at a regional solutions which work for all. Flow-through traffic needs to go around, over or under our neighborhoods so our citizens can enjoy the quiet enjoyment of their homes including the ability to get in and out of the city unimpeded. This will be a major challenge and needs public consultation with our citizens and our bordering jurisdictions.

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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12 comments

  1. Only J. Cote raises the need to coordinate transportation planning with landuse planning – I see this approach as the only way to plan for these issues in our City.
    The Provincial govmt and Translink have both shown us what terrible problems arise when road engineers are in charge of transportation planning. Does anyone know if the new City's transportation planner is just another engineer or does he have professional credentials in transportation planning?

  2. Keith, I have met the new "Transportation Guy" Jerry a couple of times, He showed up in the middle of the UBE debates, and attended the last couple of those public meetings: I think it was an eye-opener about how involved this sleepy little community could be if the issue is important. He also attended a bike ride with the City's Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, and recognized that the "Hill issue" in the City had potential solutions! I also saw him poking around my neighbourhood the other day looking at a "problem intersection" where there have been some recent accidents, taking notes and looking the area over.

    He seems extremely knowledgeable about sustainable transportation issues, and used a lot of pretty nuanced language when I talked transport with him. He understood complete streets include the pedestrian and cycling infrastructure; that the City had limited area to build new lanes; and that the City has great potential to improve it's livability with some smart transportation choices.

    For a guy as skeptical (some say cynical!) as me, he has made a very good first impression.
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    1. Pat, can you arrange a meet with him and the public. Others could use a little boost in faith that we actually have someone working in our citizens favour.

  3. Pat, from what I've read on your blog, I think you provide too many solutions and objective analysis to be considered a cynic. Skeptical is good. (I like to consider myself a skeptical optimist.)

    A couple of candidates mentioned the Stormont connector. Could someone explain what this is or point me to some more info on it?

    I'm glad Gavin Palmer mentioned New West's history and would quibble with the description in the intro of New West as a suburb. I believe we're the oldest municipality in the area, so I'm not quite sure that makes us a suburb of Vancouver. Semantics perhaps, but I think it's important that residents consider New West as a city in its own right.

    Why? So that we can, as Jaimie put it, "move away from our role as the throughway of the Lower Mainland." New West is not just somewhere where people sleep or drive through.

  4. The Stormont Connector is a mythical road that would be built to connect McBride Blvd to the Cariboo Road Interchange at Highway 1. If you look at Google Maps, imagine the north end of McBride (at 10th Ave) continuing north and then blowing Newcombe Street up to 4 or more lanes, until it enters to the forest just north of 16th Ave, then swooping to the north-east to connect to Highway 1 at the Cariboo intersections (which was originally designed to accommodate this connection). I have a couple of issues with this as a solution to anything.

    First off, I’m not too sure how bringing another high-capacity road to New Westminster’s border is going to improve the traffic situation in New Westminster! Somehow connecting the North end of McBride to a high-capacity route to the new 8-lane Highway 1 is going to reduce the traffic on McBride? Bonkers.

    Second, the connector is 100% not in New Westminster. Asking Burnaby to plough down 40 houses, and cause untold disruption to hundreds more, to help relieve New Westminster’s through-flow issue sounds eerily similar to the Coquitlam wanting New Westminster to build the UBE. A friend of mine suggested anyone who proposes the Stormont learned absolutely nothing from the UBE process.

    1. Thank you Pat – I was wondering the same! I know there is a strong appetite to offload New West's traffic issues onto surrounding communities (and I am guilty of this attitude as well). While the NIMBYism of that is a bit sad, the fact is that anywhere else is better able to accommodate those roads for the simple reason that they have more land, period. While it sucks for the 40 homeowners, the impacts on the municipality are not felt as keenly in a place where there's simply more room to work with.

      1. Bri, The underlying assumption being that any more space has to be converted to traffic lanes, as if that is going to solve any problems. I don't want bad planning in New West to hurt the livability of Burnaby and more than I want Coquitlam's bad planning to impact New West.

        Unfortunately, we are all suffering from the bad planning South of the Fraser. I suspect the best way we can improve the transportation issues in New West is to build adequate transit service in Surrey and points East.
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    2. I recall City of Burnaby would only support the Stormant Connector as a cut/cover (ie.underground or tunnel) design – would perhaps mitigate neighbourhood, parkland and environmental issues? Seems like a plausible connection to Hwy#1 from Patulla?
      I for one, though, am not too focused on building more automobile infrastructure. Let's give priority to walking, biking and transit as the "three friends" of transportation solutions for New West!

      1. Keith, I don't see anyone lining up to pay the several billion dollars it would cost to build a 4-km automobile tunnel under Burnaby and New Westminster: ecpeically as it would be essentially useless as a truck route as there would be no access for placarded trucks (as there is not access to them in the Cassiar and the Massey Tunnel). Again, I think our traffic situation would be better improved in spending those billions on Transit and non-road-based goods-movement ideas.

  5. Surprised that Nandel suggested a gondola going from Columbia to Royal City Centre as that would seem redundant to the existing transit routes that already cover that route. Perhaps someone should just get rid of the hills? 😉

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