Why another visioning exercise for transit?

Abbotsford/Mission are currently undergoing a visioning exercise for the future of public transit in this region over the next 25 years.

Abbotsford/Mission are currently undergoing a visioning exercise for the future of public transit in this region over the next 25 years.

I have participated in the process – pointing out that we need service to the airport, better service to Aldergrove, a connection to Chilliwack, and an overarching strategy to provide transit service to citizens in those parts of town that can accommodate public transit, and only minimal service, perhaps with small community buses, to the low-density suburbs that have proliferated in Abbotsford.

However, I have to question the need for this process. Since I began to follow the development of the local public transit system, I’ve seen an Official Community Plan written (2005), which came shortly on the heels of the Central Fraser Valley Transit Plan (2004). These were followed by a Transportation Master Plan (2007), and a Fraser Valley Regional District Transit Study (2010).

All of them contained varying projections and visions for the future of public transit in the area, and I have to say, I’m dismayed when I see yet another “visioning exercise” brought forward.

Did not one of the four processes I’ve cited contain a long-term vision for public transit?

Abbotsford’s current Official Community Plan states, “Transportation and land-use planning initiatives should be mutually supportive … to result in a more transit-supportive, pedestrian and cyclist friendly city.”

It also recommends, “Concentrate higher-density residential and employment areas with walking distance of transit routes.”

Even more specific, it describes a recommended policy to “Support continual improvement of transit service hours per capita, with the goal of achieving 1.0 service hours per capita by 2025 and 1.5 service hours per capita by 2040.”

This is only a sampling of what the OCP says – but if the OCP, which was a broadly consultative exercise, already has the vision, then what is the current exercise accomplishing?

Filling in what our priorities should be? Where people want service? If so, why are they passing it off as a “visioning exercise” and not a “demand analysis” exercise?

I was under the impression that our leadership at this city was concerned about cost effectiveness. If so, why do they permit such exercises in redundancy to go ahead instead of implementing the visions already developed?

Perhaps more to the point, if BC Transit doesn’t do anything except create plans, organize visioning processes, and consult endlessly, why is ValleyMax still a member?

Given how many strategic plans have been designed for this region, it looks awfully like they’re putting together a one-size fits all solution and applying it all over BC.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for public involvement and consultation. I just think it could be done a whole lot more effectively and efficiently.

I have enough patience to see the current visioning exercise through to its completion – but I really don’t want to see another one for 25 years, so let’s be ambitious in designing a system that people will  use to save money.


van der Kroon

Abbotsford News