Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Transit

Toronto council votes 44-1 against keeping Gardiner Expressway as it is – at least part will be torn down

Former Toronto Mayor Rod Ford, who rode to power only five years ago on a promise to end the “war on the car,” found himself on the losing end of a 44-1 council vote Thursday on whether or not to demolish  all or part of the eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway.

As someone who lived in Toronto for many years in the 1970s, it’s hard to imagine the Gardiner being removed, even though it was a parking lot for most of the day just 20 years after it was built, effectively severing the city from the Lake Ontario waterfront.

Clearly, though, the Gardiner is nearing its last days. Right across Canada — even in the freeway-heavy GTA — there’s massive public support for more people-friendly transportation and transit options. (Vancouver will consider the future of the much smaller Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts in September.)

Once it had agreed that change was required, council split 24-21 on what that change would be, with a narrow majority rejecting a complete teardown in favour of the so-called “hybrid” model, which would keep the elevated freeway west of the Don River while reducing it to an at-grade boulevard to the east.

Proponents of a complete removal —  the entire eastern section of the Gardiner would be replaced with an at-grade boulevard — have already vowed to keep the debate going.

The council split along urban/suburban lines, with downtown councillors overwhelmingly in favour of converting the entire eastern section to a boulevard. Vancouver council, in contrast, voted unanimously two years ago to pursue studies on replacement of the Viaducts, with staff to report to council this year.

June 13, 2015

Vancouver closing in on walking, cycling, transit goals five years early, but cloud hangs over transit’s future

Vancouver is on track to achieve its Greenest City goal of having 50 percent of all trips in the city by walking, cycling or transit five years ahead of schedule, according to a report to council today, but it will be a “big challenge to get more people on the transit system at this time,” says transportation engineer Lon LaClaire.

LaClaire was presenting impressive new numberson the dramatic changes in the city’s transportation patterns, including an 11 percent jump in cycling trips in the last year. This has been achieved without reducing the absolute numbers of car trips.

But LaClaire warned that additional progress will require more investment in transit because of the current crowding on Translink buses and trains. People make the shift to transit because they enjoy the experience, he told Mayor Gregor Robertson, and can switch back to cars because of a single negative trip.

So the possibility of a “no” vote in the transit referendum is casting a shadow over further progress.

May 12, 2015

Federal transit funding and Translink’s efficiency gains are good news; now we just need a Yes vote

Ottawa’s modest but important budget commitment to transit funding has one important catch, thanks to the provincial government: Metro municipalities need a Yes vote in the current transit and transportation referendum to match senior government contributions.

That was Mayor Gregor Robertson’s message yesterday, but there was more good news in a recent assessment of Translink’s efficiency gains by Victoria transportation analyst Todd Litman.

As Burnaby News Leader reporter Jeff Nagel wrote yesterday, Litman’s review of Translink’s costs found it was more efficient that most North American cities and can compare itself to transit veterans like Chicago and San Francisco. What’s more, transit riders themselves are bearing 55 percent of Translink’s costs with fares, a higher share than most other jurisdictions.

More efficiency, federal funding beginning to flow . .  . all that’s needed now is a solid Yes vote to begin long-awaited investments in Metro transit infrastructure.



April 22, 2015

Thousands of conversations: notes from the #yesfortransit campaign trail

“Where can I get my Yes button?” demanded the woman next to the back door on the Number 50. “You can have mine,” I told her. “I can’t wear it where I’m going now,” she told me in a low voice, “but I”ll put it on right after.”

It was just one of many conversations in the last week that tell me a real debate is under way across the region about the Better Transportation and Transit Plan as ballots reach every household. (Everyone is supposed to have one by tomorrow, but a number of UEL and UBC residents at a meeting last night were still waiting.)

It’s still unfashionable to be out and proud about supporting the Mayors’ Council plan, but many people do want to see congestion reduced, commuting times slashed and all the economic benefits that flow from the proposal.

The Translink haters have had their day. I think many will be voting Yes in the privacy of their homes.

Will it be in time to put the Yes team over the line? That remains to be seen, but in the course of four public forums in the last week and a number of other encounters, I find lots of room for optimism: [Read more →]

March 26, 2015