Burnaby mayor fiercely opposed to Gateway

It is no secret that Burnaby city council, and in particular Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan, are fiercely opposed to B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon’s $3-billion Gateway Program.

That opposition will be more visible to readers of Burnaby’s community newspapers, thanks to a four-page ad placed by the city on May 28 that seeks public input on the project. Gateway to Gridlock: A Wrong Turn Will Cost Us All Tomorrow pulls few punches, but centres around the message that widening highways to alleviate traffic congestion is a wrong-headed approach.

Falcon first unveiled Gateway in 2004, and the plan includes the widening of Highway 1 from East Vancouver to Langley and the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge. The project will also see the replacement of the Pitt River Bridge and the construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road through Delta.

According to the ad, Burnaby will bear the brunt of the project’s impacts in terms of traffic flows, but the report also states PMH1 is “wrong for Burnaby; wrong for the region”. “It will harm the entire Metro Vancouver region by encouraging sprawling development, creating increased traffic (especially single-occupant vehicles), and shifting people away from transit and other alternative forms of transportation,” the ad states. “The region stands at a crossroads, where major investment decisions like PMH1 can tip us back towards past problems, or forward into progressive solutions.”

The fourth page of the ad also questions the prudence of building the project as a public-private partnership, in which tolls are collected by a private operator. “This means managing congestion takes a back seat to business profits.” The City of Burnaby staff refer readers to several links, including the Web site of the Livable Region Coalition , the earliest opponents of PMH1. The LRC group also includes former NPA councillor Gordon Price, who has repeatedly stated, to the Straight and elsewhere, that a fundamental question needs to be asked of Falcon: Where in the world has widening highways succeeded in reducing traffic congestion?

On January 18, the Straight asked Falcon to name one place where widening highways had reduced congestion. “Well, Vancouver for example,” Falcon said at the time. “If you didn’t have the Cambie Street Bridge there, you would have a lot more congestion along those other corridors. There was controversy when the Cambie Street Bridge was being proposed, you may recall, and yet imagine today if you did not have that bridge. You have to remember, Vancouver has already got about eight bridges representing 27 lanes of traffic. So Vancouver is in a pretty good situation. But Vancouver’s population isn’t growing, but the population south of the Fraser is the fastest-growing part of the province. You can’t just ignore it, just because everything looks pretty nice in Vancouver right now.”

The construction period expected if Gateway proceeds as planned will be from 2008 to 2013.

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