Concerned citizens packed the pews at Vancouver's Unitarian Church on Sat. Sept. 29 to learn about the environmental failings of B.C.'s Gateway Project. Speakers included activists Bertha Williams and Betty Krawczyk, transportation economists, bus drivers and second-generation "freeway fighters."…
Concerned citizens packed the pews at Vancouver's Unitarian Church on Sat. Sept. 29 to learn about the environmental failings of B.C.'s Gateway Project. Speakers included activists Bertha Williams and Betty Krawczyk, transportation economists, bus drivers and second-generation "freeway fighters." There was something prophetic about sitting in the same locale where Greenpeace held its founding meeting back in 1970.
Now, almost four decades later, with climate change finally on the global agenda and in the era of peak oil, our elected officials still believe that the way to combat the Lower Mainland's traffic woes is to build more roads. No one has ever built themselves out of congestion!
There appears to be a major disconnect between our Premier and his Transportation Minister, Kevin Falcon. At last month's UBCM meeting, Premier Campbell outlined the province's steps to tackle climate change, by announcing that the province would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent (below the current level) by 2020. However, the $10 billion Gateway mega-project being endorsed by Minister Falcon involves the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge, expansion of Highway 1, and loss of wildlife habitat — a move that will increase our regional road emissions by 31% above current levels. The math doesn't add up.
During Al Gore's recent visit to Vancouver, the Premier received accolades from Al Gore for his climate change "promises." Gore failed to point out that Campbell's lack of actions speak louder than words. The true agents of change were the people standing outside in the cold and rain, demanding better transit and no freeways.
Local municipalities are tired of the province meddling with their well-thought out regional plans. Vancouver's high livability rating is the direct result of its resident's efforts to balance nature and business. Ironically, Gordon Campbell, the author of Vancouver's Livability Strategic Plan, is the same person implementing projects that will dismantle the plan.
The $3 billion Gateway project is based on nothing — just the whim of the provincial government. No government staff was ever asked to prepare a report on the Gateway plan and no environmental assessment was ever done.
Derek Corrigan, mayor of Burnaby described the big buck megaproject as "the most backward decision in the history of B.C."
The Gateway plan promotes more single occupancy vehicles and does nothing to improve mass transit. Critics are pushing for a plan that incorporates rapid transit over the Port Mann — currently the only bridge in the Lower Mainland without any public transit.
During the Stop Gateway public forum, Gordon Price, Chair of SFU's City Program said:
Vancouver has been used as a model for cities around the world. Yet we are widening highways, installing tolls with no alternatives at the time of peak oil. It's not enough to oppose the Gateway. We must also put forth a new vision for the Lower Mainland and demand it from those in charge.
I am tired of being told to help the planet by driving a hybrid car, changing my light bulbs and flying less, while the provincial government continues to make poor decisions in combating greenhouse gases. We are witnessing unprecedented urban sprawl in Squamish, coal emissions at Port Mellon's pulp mill, and fossil-fuel burning hydrogen buses for Whistler. The Sea to Sky Highway expansion feeds directly into the "Freeway Web" envisioned by the B.C. government.
If our provincial leaders truly understood ecological principles, they wouldn't be making the decisions they're making. In two years time, "The Best Place on Earth" will be seen on TV screens by the world, as the "place that could have been, and once was, but is no more."
We need to work together through collective citizen action and intelligent government. Premier Campbell still has time to steer us in a new, sustainable direction with more mass transit and bike lane options, instead of short-term, big buck destructive plans.