Traffic congestion and public transit infrastructure are named among the top issues for most civic election candidates in New Westminster – and it seems we’re not alone. Greater Vancouver is experiencing major growing pains related to suburbun expansion. Cost of living has boosted growth in areas like Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam, Surrey and Abbotsford, but the majority of jobs are still located in Vancouver. The result is gridlock due to the funnel effect of so many people coming into the downtown area through a limited number of access points.
Unsurprisingly, those at the wide end of the funnel want to twin the Port Mann bridge, hoping it will speed their commute into town. We at the narrow end – New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver – are more likely to oppose it, fearing it will only bring more non-residential traffic into our communities.
In the south-of-the-Fraser communities of Langley, Surrey, Delta and White Rock, where gridlock on the bridge is a huge issue, nearly 75 per cent of candidates agreed or agreed strongly that the bridge should be twinned.
Artist’s rendition of a twinned Port Mann Bridge.
In the Tri-Cities area, support was even higher. Eighty-five per cent of candidates agreed.
In the core communities of Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster, where many fear that more lanes will bring more traffic, only 30 per cent either agreed or agreed strongly with the bridge twinning.
New Westminster council candidate Betty McIntosh said she’d like to see the new South Fraser Perimeter Road completed to siphon off some of the traffic that now runs through New Westminster, which, as the geographical centre of the region, has a disproportionate number of vehicles travelling through it“New Westminster is a compact, well-planned city with a large volume of transit users. We can work, live and play within our city boundaries,” she said.
Lorrie Williams, also running in New Westminster, said the city could “easily become just the crossroad to other places” and it needs well-planned commuter and truck routes and cooperation with other municipalities to share the burden.
As a central access point for the Lower Mainland, New West benefits from proximity to both the city and the suburbs, but as this issue highlights, there is a dark side. Too much traffic is just pass-through traffic, and it impacts local traffic, air quality, quality of life and also our businesses.
The Sun quoted Williams and McIntosh, but here are some opinions from other local candidates on the traffic situation here in New West and what to do about it (quotes from the Sun’s poll data and candidate websites):
- Wayne Wright (incumbent): “
- Blair Armitage:
- Jaimie McEvoy: “
- Terrance Owen: “
To help you on voting day, Nov. 15, you can use the database as a personal ballot, printing off a list of all candidates and then circling those that best reflect your views.
Print it out and circle the candidates you’re voting for? C’mon Sun, you can do better. The data is there, all that is needed is the technical execution to make it more useful. If the Sun doesn’t have the technical resources, they could at least provide the data in an easily remixed format so that others with the knowledge and the desire could create something better suited for the Web.