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Other mayors agree with New West's Pattullo position
New Westminster’s traveling lobby road show appears to have worked.
The Metro Vancouver mayors council approved a proposed $7.5-billion transportation investment plan last Thursday.
Notably, the proposal calls for a tolled four-lane replacement of the Pattullo Bridge as well as looking at road pricing throughout the region. There are also plans for light rapid transit lines in the Fraser Valley. All of those were supported by New Westminster in its Pattullo Bridge position paper, released earlier this year.
“I have to say I’m extremely pleased,” said New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright.
“From New Westminster’s point of view we’ve always tried to do what’s best for the region as well as the city.”
Mayor Wayne Wright
City councillors have been visiting other municipal councils recently pitching New West’s position.
“I have no doubt that going out to all the other councils had a significant positive impact,” said Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, chair of the city’s traffic advisory committee and co-chair of its master transportation plan task force.
“Before it was out there that New Westminster was just this parochial place. When I presented to councils I started with that. I said we’re 7 1/2 square miles and have all this history. It’s a little bit easy to look at it and dismiss us as parochial. We had a fact-based position. I was very well received at the ones I went to, and I heard that from the [other councillors] too. They heard us and they understand … The overall plan is good.”
Wright said Surrey was good to realize replacement of the Pattullo Bridge was needed soon.
By making the bridge expandable to six lanes it leaves open the door if the infrastructure is there to support it, the bridge could be expanded in 20 years.
But with the changes being made to the transit system, Wright said it’s possible expansion won’t be necessary by then.
Wright and McEvoy said Surrey’s willingness to compromise came about thanks to Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan.
“I know at one of the meetings Surrey attempted to respond to New Westminster’s position on the Pattullo Bridge and my understanding is they got shut down by Burnaby’s mayor telling them they’ve got to be looking at the region,” said McEvoy.
Corrigan, though, was the only mayor to vote against the plan because it’s too big and costly for taxpayers and the provincial and federal governments.
“They went for virtually everything and I don’t think that’s going to be palatable to the majority of people,” Corrigan told the other mayors Thursday.
“That’s a relevant comment,” admitted McEvoy.
“He’s been around a long time. He knows his community. But, to be fair, the other cities know their own communities.”
To help pay for the plan the mayors would like the province to reallocate $250 million in annual carbon taxes to TransLink. Transportation Minister Todd Stone quickly rejected that idea, although he said he was willing to negotiate a separate Metro Vancouver carbon tax.
McEvoy believes Stone should reconsider because it would be a good use of the carbon tax.
The plan also calls for TransLink to look at not only placing a toll on the Pattullo but reduce the current ones on the Port Mann and Golden Ears while developing a system of region-wide user fees.
A priority would be given to building a new $2.1 billion light rail transit line connecting Guildford, Surrey Centre and Newton, and then later Langley via the Fraser Highway.
Vancouver would get a $2 billlion subway extension of the Millennium line along the Broadway corridor as far as Arbutus.
The package needs tentative approval from the province and a yes vote by a majority of Metro Vancouver residents in a referendum that’s expected to be held in 2015.