Last week, Premier Gordon Campbell told the Straight the provincial Gateway Program would reduce greenhouse-gas emissions throughout the region. This week, Stephen Rees, the B.C. Green candidate in Richmond East, said the premier's claim was a lie.
“It's all about land development,” Rees, a former TransLink planner, told the Straight on April 14. “It's got nothing to do with transportation. It's got nothing to do with goods from China or anything else. Every time you flip a piece of land out of bog or agriculture into a higher and better land use, you make lots of money overnight just at the stroke of a pen by the change of the land-use zoning. And that's what they're about.”
Campbell and B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon officially unveiled the Gateway Program in 2006, although it was established in 2003. The project includes the widening of Highway 1 from East Vancouver to Langley, the replacing of the Port Mann Bridge with a 10-lane span, and the construction of the North and South Fraser Perimeter Roads.
Campbell said Gateway is “many, many things that are happening at once to make the region more livable, to reduce our impact and our greenhouse-gas impact, and to invest in public transit. And I think that when you take all those things together—as we move to California tailpipe emissions and those other initiatives—I think you will see actually a reduction in greenhouse gases.”
Rees countered, “It won't, and that's their own figures,” referring to B.C.'s 2007 environmental-assessment submissions, which predict that 176,000 tons of greenhouse gases will be added in the Lower Fraser Valley annually until 2021 as a result of Gateway. He added, “I don't believe their figures. I believe it's grossly underestimated.”
Rees noted Falcon trampled on TransLink's 2004 plan—included in its three-year strategic plan for 2005 to 2007—to have a bus running across the Port Mann from Surrey to Coquitlam. The former planner said the plan could help alleviate the congestion without spending billions of taxpayer dollars.
Transportation planner Eric Doherty also slammed the premier's greenhouse-gas claim.
“If we go ahead with Gateway, we can flush the whole 33 percent by 2020 target,” Doherty said. “That promise”¦can't be done if you're spending billions of dollars on freeways at the same time. It's impossible, and I really do think that the government, in particular Gordon Campbell, understands that full well.”