Eric Doherty: Gateway's United Boulevard extension cancelled to applause in New Westminster
On Thursday (May 19), a large and determined group of New Westminster residents gathered to find out what design TransLink would be pushing for the first section of the North Fraser Perimeter Road. Instead, the crowd burst into boisterous applause when Sany Zein, TransLink’s director of roads, announced that TransLink would cancel the North Fraser Perimeter Road portion of the Gateway Program because local residents and New Westminster council would not support it.
New Westminster residents have proved a force to be reckoned with. Mayor Wayne Wright referred to the first NFPR open house as “a donnybrook”—slang for a mass brawl. It was this outspoken opposition that forced provincially controlled TransLink to back off on the United Boulevard extension, the first phase of the NFPR in New Westminster. If they had proceeded it would have cost about $175 million for a short stub of freeway and an overpass that would feed more traffic onto the already congested New Westminster street network.
“This is an example of what is possible when you get citizens involved in important issues. Now is the time to go back and focus on public transit,” said Andrew Murray, a member of the Council of Canadians’ New Westminster chapter. “We also need to fix the dysfunctional way TransLink operates; this needs to be an issue in the upcoming provincial election.”
Roadway expansion is one of the main drivers of increasing greenhouse gas emissions in B.C. and globally. While our provincial politicians talk about cutting carbon emissions, the reality is that they are often spending our money to increase the emissions that threaten the stability of our climate.
Until recently, the NFPR and the whole Gateway freeway megaproject looked unstoppable. Work is continuing on the $3-billion Highway 1 freeway widening which includes the replacement for the Port Mann Bridge. Despite vigorous resistance by local residents and legal action by the Burns Bog Conservation Society, work on the $2-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road freeway continues in Surrey and Delta. However, as the price of gas soars and concern about global warming mounts, spending billions on roadway expansions may no longer look like such a great way for politicians to get re-elected.
The people of New Westminster have shown that “unstoppable” projects can be stopped with determined resistance. Now it is time to stand up and demand an end to the Gateway freeway megaproject. Our limited resources should be invested in thing like electric trains and public transit, not on making global warming worse by spending billions on freeways.
Eric Doherty is a member of the Council of Canadians’ Vancouver-Burnaby chapter and StopThePave.org.
May 20, 2011 at 10:13am
This is fantastic news! Thank you residents of New Westminster, because of you we can plan for a more sustainable future for Metro Vancouver, bravo well done!
Bob Ages - Delta
May 20, 2011 at 10:35am
That is fantastic news. One down, one to go - the South Fraser Freeway. Congratulations to all the people of New Westminster who stood up to the province. South of Fraser residents - the ball is in our court to turn up the heat. There is still lots of time before the pavement goes down.
May 20, 2011 at 12:12pm
Who says you can't stop freeway projects! Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard for modern transit solutions for Metro Vancouver. Now we should have all of the $175 million in funds originally made available for the NFPR divirted into more transit in Metro Vancouver. It is time to stop subsidizing our roads and start funding our transit responsibilities.
May 20, 2011 at 1:09pm
You can celebrate this victory and work towards the next one this holiday Monday. The Subury Neighbourhood Association is hosting a Victoria Day Garden Party on the route of the SFPR. See www.sunburyneighbourhood.ca
May 20, 2011 at 3:26pm
Amazing, hopefully the rest of this insane project can be shut down. The complete WRONG direction for our 21st century world. RELOCALIZATION is key. Thanks Eric!
May 20, 2011 at 3:36pm
Nothing can be done right now about the level railway crossing...
...but why not double up on the bailey bridge to allow for two-way traffic?
I love that little bailey bridge, but two would be twice as nice.
May 20, 2011 at 4:00pm
It's a shame that the vocal minority halts improvements in the movement of goods and traffic for no discernable benefit. If you don't like the growth and enhancement of services in the GVA there are lots of open spaces in the province that you could move to.
myna lee johnstone
May 20, 2011 at 4:43pm
the railways are cheaper to maintain they already exist and should be used to the max
it is very difficult to get people to quit their auto habit
May 20, 2011 at 9:25pm
This is way with this attitude New Westminster will continue to be a City of losers in Metro Vancouver!
roads make GHG emissions?
May 20, 2011 at 11:01pm
You people are on crack. Without freeways, cars stop and start to increase GHG emissions.