Tag Archives: Transportation and Urban Planning

Sustainable Transportation Experts Call New Port Mann Bridge Antiquated Thinking

Sustainable transportation experts call new port mann bridge antiquated thinking


Sustainable Transportation Experts Call New Port Mann Bridge Antiquated Thinking

Read this story from Metro News on the opening of the new Port Mann Bridge, which is drawing criticism from a leading sustainable transportation experts for driving climate change-causing car-based transportation instead of more sustainable, modern alternatives. (Nov. 30, 2012)

Its historical significance and sheer wow factor is unquestioned.

But everything else about the new Port Mann Bridge is fair game for sustainable transportation advocates.

Gordon Price – Simon Fraser University director of the City Program and board member of the International Centre for Sustainable Cities – says the government missed a golden opportunity to promote smart regional growth when the 10-lane, $3.3-billion megabridge between Coquitlam and Surrey officially opens Saturday.

Instead the project promotes urban sprawl, car use and champions outdated, 20th century “motordome” thinking, flying in the face of emerging trends indicating decreased car use and more demand for public transportation.

“The most frustrating thing is that [the Port Mann] doesn’t do what they said it was going to do: reduce congestion,” said Price. “The claim is disingenuous when you pass on the opportunity to include rapid transit within the budget. When that happens, expanding the capacity for cars [without an alternative] increases the demand. If people can travel farther in the same amount of time from cheaper land, they will.”

The original Port Mann, which cost $25 million in 1964, opened the region up to expansion south of the Fraser River.

That growth strained the road network, creating a situation today where the old five-lane Port Mann Bridge is congested in both directions 13 hours of the day.

Price doesn’t dispute that a replacement was required and doesn’t doubt commuters will give the bridge plenty of use despite its tolls.

But he calls the final design overkill and unnecessary.

“Why do we need the world’s widest bridge when all the planners said eight lanes would do?” he said. “I doubt you’ll ever need all 10 lanes. It’s today’s Granville Street Bridge, which never reached its designed capacity and never will.”

Robin Lindsey, a transportation expert at the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business, believes the effectiveness of the Port Mann won’t be known until 2014.

“People need time to adjust and experiment with their routes and decide for themselves about tolls,” he said. “I think it will cope fairly well. Best-case scenario, the peak times drop by as much as an hour and the effect of high capacity works. What happens in 50 years, I haven’t the foggiest idea.”

Forecasting done last year by Steer Davies Gleave, for Port Mann operator Transportation Investment Corporation, showed that traffic volumes on the existing Port Man have steadily decreased from 2005 to 2010, by approximately 8,000 vehicles in that period.

A Frontier Group report on driving behaviour in the U.S. shows the average annual number of vehicle-miles travelled by people between the ages of 16 and 34 have dropped 23 per cent from 2001 and 2009.

While the recession is a factor in both cases, the Frontier Group states high gas prices, licensing laws, improved alternative transportation (public transportation, primarily) and changing attitudes about driving and the environment represent the start of a generational shift.

Meanwhile, increasingly aggressive urban planning on a municipal level emphasizing livable communities, public transit and non-vehicle infrastructure is dramatically changing driving behaviour.

The City of Vancouver, for example, has reduced traffic volumes in the downtown core to 1960s levels.

Price feels governments have been slow to react because leaders grew up in driving cultures and new statistics showing a shift away from that mentality are so dramatic “it’s easy to be skeptical”.

Read more: http://metronews.ca/news/vancouver/459706/new-port-mann-a-link-to-the-past/

Photo of Jumbo Glacier by Trevor Florence

Undemocratic Jumbo Resort Threatens Kootenay Grizzly Bears


The Jumbo Ski Resort planned for the Purcell Mountains has been approved by the provincial government, which has put in place legislation for the area to become a municipality.

The setting up of a municipality is so the government will have someone to work with as the various permits are dealt with (which is Liberalese for “approved”).

The irony, nay hypocrisy, of this seems to have been lost in the debate. This is nothing short of gerrymandering, for there already is a municipality to deal with – namely the several communities in the Kootenays which will be affected by this project This is a refinement of gerrymandering.

This technique came about when a Massachusetts governor, Elbridge Gerry, redrew an election district to suit his political needs. It looked like a salamander so the term gerrymandering entered the political lexicon.

At least there were real people living in Gerry’s new bounderies.

The obvious question here is, do people in the vicinity of developments have any say in the matter? They will be just as involved in, say, Nelson, as if the development were inside their city boundaries  – yet they have nothing to say on whether or not the project should be approved.

Well, not quite nothing, as we shall see.

This is eerily similar to the Ashlu River private power project in the mid-2000s. The proposal was to develop a dam on the river and make electricity. One of the main opponents was Tom Rankin, a rancher through whose property the Ashlu flows. Tom went on to form the Save Our Rivers Society, for which Damien Gillis and I worked the 2009 provincial election.

The regional district held public hearings around the district and learned that the various communities massively opposed this project. The Regional District voted down the proposal 8-1, so the Campbell government passed an amendment to the Municial Act, known as Bill 30, eliminating the right of any municipality to deny a private power licence.

Incidentally, it is of interest to know about the Ashlu that environmentalists claimed that it would – forgive the techical term – bugger up the fish runs returning to spawn.

The company stoutly denied this.

It turned out that the environmentalists were spot on – a marvelous salmon river all but gone.

Now, I alluded (above) that the public will have a chance to say their piece. They will – there will be public meetings to find out what environmental safeguards should be put in place.

The public will have no say as to whether or not there should be the development in the first place – thanks to the Campbell/Clark government the project is a “done deal”.

The opposition to this development is not all from tree huggers by any means. In fact, the diminishing grizzly bears will be further diminished by this project as will other wildlife.

Indeed, government scientists have spoken on this:

“The proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort has the potential for substantial and direct cumulative impacts to the Central Purcell Grizzly Bear population.”
– BC Ministry of Water Land and Air Protection, 2004

“…there will be a substantial impact to grizzly bear habitat effectiveness, mortality risk, and most importantly, the fragmentation of grizzly bear distribution…”
– Matt Austin, Large Carnivore Specialist, Biodiversity Branch, Government of B.C

Nothing anyone can say – not even the most prominent scientists in the world can make a difference – the project has been approved and the appropriate municipality set up, all nice and legal-like.

There is an election coming up in May and what the people are entitled to know is whether or not the NDP would restore to local bodies the right to be heard and listened to when large projects with sensitive environmental issues are involved.

Over to you, Mr Dix.

Port Metro Vancouver illustration of Deltaport and proposed Terminal 2

No Economic Need for Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank


by Susan Jones

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, commonly known as Port Metro Vancouver (PMV), is moving forward with plans to extensively dredge the environmentally-sensitive estuary of the Fraser River to build another man-made island for a new terminal with 3 container berths.  The island will be 115 hectares (284 acres) plus an intermodal yard and a widened causeway with road and rail expansions.  The Project will impact 210 hectares (519 acres) of internationally-significant fish and wildlife habitat at Roberts Bank.  There is no economic or environmental justification for Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) to proceed with these plans.

Port Metro Vancouver claims:

B.C. Container traffic is expected to double over the next 10 to 15 years (2.9 to 5.8 million TEUs)

– Throughput for PMV and Prince Rupert will almost triple (i.e. 9M TEUs) by 2030

However looking at the facts:

Port Metro Vancouver experienced zero net growth in TEUs from 2007 to 2011, with a 14% decrease in 2009.  PMV has been handling about 2.5 million TEUs annually since 2007 with 2.1 in 2009.  There has been little growth in demand for several years. The world economic situation for containers is uncertain.  PMV needs to justify the growth forecasts.

– Prince Rupert is an expanding container port which handled .4 million TEUs in 2011.

– Existing BC port facilities are operating at about 60% of utilization – PMV is operating at about 57% utilization.  Approximately 70% of laden containers coming to the Lower Mainland are destined for elsewhere in Canada.  Approximately 10% are destined to the United States and 20% are B.C. bound.

– If there is growth, PMV and Prince Rupert have plenty of capacity without building a second terminal at Roberts Bank.  With improved efficiencies and planned expansions in the inner harbour and Prince Rupert, the ports will be equipped to handle 9 million TEUs by 2020 and at least 11 million by 2030.    This level of capacity can meet PMV’s most aggressive forecasts for 2030 container traffic.  This is all without Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank.

– A double increase would require a Compound Annual Growth (CAGR) of 7% which is not happening. The current CAGR is less than 2%

– A study commissioned by Port Metro Vancouver shows the PMV is looking at the highest case scenario of growth which is unrealistic:Preliminary Container Traffic Projections for Port Metro Vancouver: 2011 to 2030 – May 27, 2011 by Worley Parsons Canada.

– The current PMV statement is based on the “high case” forecast.  To date, PMV has not even realized the “low case” forecasts.

– The “low case” projection for 2011 was 3.02 million TEUs for PMV and Prince Rupert.  The actual business for 2011 was 2.9 million TEUs (2.5 for PMV and .4 for Prince Rupert).

– The lowest case projections for the Deltaport Third Berth in 2006 have not been realized.  PMV forecast 2.8 to 3.5 million TEUs by 2010.  This has still not been achieved.

Deltaport Third Berth Project Comprehensive Study Report, July 2006, page 37:  The following forecasts, in TEUs, for the Vancouver Port Area, are set out in Table 6:  

Note: These figures do not include Prince Rupert.  In 2010 and 2011 PMV handled 2.5 million TEUs, well below the lowest cast forecast of 2.8 million TEUs.  In fact, PMV handled 2.5 million TEUs annually from 2007 until 2011 (with a drop to 2.1 in 2009).  It appears that there will be some increase in 2012 but still the compound annual growth will only be 2%.

– The Worley Parsons Study of 2008 made forecasts of 5.53 million TEUs to 7.87 million TEUs by 2030 for Port Metro Vancouver terminals (does not include Prince Rupert).  There is already capacity to handle 5 million TEUs in BC.  With planned upgrades at Centerm and efficiency improvements, the capacity can easily reach 7.8 million TEUs by 2030.  The Port of Prince Rupert has capacity for 750,000 TEUs with plans for 2 expansions which will increase capacity to 2 million TEUs and up to 5 million TEUs respectively.

Prince Rupert and Port Metro Vancouver can build to a capacity of 11 to 12 million TEUS by 2030, without ever building Terminal 2.  With a current need for 2.5 to 3 million TEUs, there are plenty of options for gradual growth, if it occurs.

– The Worley Parsons Study of 2008 did not:

  • study in any depth the impact that Prince Rupert port will have on demand in Vancouver
  • consider a scenario of continued lower growth due to the global economic situation
  • explore options for enhancing supply of terminal capacity at the existing Vancouver terminals
  • compare the economic and environmental costs of various options for capacity expansion in the region

– The results of the May 2011 Worley Parsons container traffic study have been over-stated to try and justify the need for Terminal 2.

– The market study by Worley Parsons is inadequate to justify a $2 billion project

– Alternatives can be undertaken at dramatically lower economic and environmental costs

– Economically it is cheaper, and environmentally sensible, to carry out earlier plans for expansions at Centerm and perhaps Vanterm in the deep sea Vancouver harbour before dredging internationally significant habitat at Roberts Bank in the Fraser River estuary.

– Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank is estimated to cost $2 to $2.5 billion.  Port Metro Vancouver requested bids in 2008 and selected a joint venture between APM Terminals North America and SNC-Lavalin (APM Terminals/SNC-Lavalin), as the preferred proponent for the Terminal 2.  None of the bidders was willing to fully fund the project and Port Metro Vancouver may have to find at least $1 billion to fund the project.

– Funding Terminal 2 initial works without operator commitment opens huge new risks for PMV, including unlimited cost exposure, unfair competition claims and unaccountable use of public assets.

– Currently there are about 600,000 containers (TEUs) going through BC ports that are US bound. If the same US/Canada mix applies going forward this could increase to as much as 1.6 mill TEUs. The US has already expressed concerns about BC ports handling US traffic. It could be argued that T2 is being justified solely on the US bound traffic.

– Port Metro Vancouver is moving forward with the Terminal 2 Project without a proper cost/benefit analysis and without credibly considering alternatives.

– Worldwide there is a new focus on shorter logistics chains to reduce the environmental footprint.  The newly dredged and enlarged Panama Canal is scheduled to open in 2015 which will dramatically affect the container trade business on the west coast of North America.

– The new Panama Canal will be the epicenter of a strategic supply chain shift. According to Jones Lang Lasalle, 25% of imports currently coming through the West Coast could shift to East Coast ports as a direct result of the Canal expansion. In fact, the firm cites the Panama Canal as one of the five most compelling change agents in the supply chain going forward. Port Metro Vancouver could therefore lose as much as 600,000 TEUs annually.

– Canadian West Coast container business is important and should be executed with overall planning of best options.  Instead, Port Metro Vancouver competes with Prince Rupert and favours Roberts Bank over the other lower mainland ports, namely Vanterm, Centerm and Surrey Fraser Docks.  PMV also fails to form partnerships with inland terminals which provide ample industrial land.  Ashcroft Terminals is a viable option which is a crossover area for CP and CN railways and it has plenty of industrial land with appropriate infrastructure.

– Port Metro Vancouver is ignoring recommendations from a 2008 study commissioned by David Emerson, federal Minister of Trade, Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative: Strategic Advisor Report:

  • “We recommend that the development of a system of inland terminals as on overall strategy to serve the following purposes:” The document provides 7 purposes including the fact that this would reduce truck traffic and port congestion. (p. 21)
  • “We recommend that policy makers develop container capacity in Prince Rupert before making investments in Vancouver, beyond what have been announced to date. We believe that capacity can be expanded in Prince Rupert relatively quickly and such a strategy will allow time for Vancouver to develop solutions to its congestion.” (p. 12)
  • “We recommend that the ability of ports to finance expansion be reviewed…there must be an appropriate ability to finance this development, for it includes a significant element of risk.  The current structure and rules regarding the financing of ports are completely inadequate.” (p.12)

Port Metro Vancouver is ignoring warnings from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that:  “there was no possible amount of mitigation projects they could envisage that would compensate for the environmental damage that T2 would cause.” (source:2007 pre-bid meeting for T2)

Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank makes no economic sense and public assets will be exploited to fund an environmental disaster with the wilful destruction of orca, salmon and migratory bird habitat.

Susan Jones is a longtime Tsawwassen resident and researcher on issues related to port and highway expansion in Metro Vancouver.


Northern BC Mayor Pushes for Transit on Highway of Tears


Highway 16, also known as the Highway of Tears, has once again been in the news as new DNA technology allowed police to link a deceased sex offender to the 1974 murder of 16-year-old Colleen MacMillen of Lac La Hache, B.C., who disappeared while hitchhiking. Much of the media attention has focused on how amazing technology allowed police to solve a crime decades after it was committed and years after the murderer died.

However, very little attention has been paid to a forward-looking resolution by Smithers’ Mayor Taylor Bachrach which passed nearly unanimously at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September. The Highway of Tears Safety Resolution calls for the provincial government to finally implement the recommendation of the 2006 Highway of Tears Symposium Recommendations Report for improved bus service between northern communities. The report points out that most of the murdered and missing are young indigenous women, and that most of the cases are unsolved.

Mayor Bachrach said in a telephone interview with The Common Sense Canadian that improved highway transit service would have “multiple benefits, not the least of which is women’s safety.” He expressed interest in directing carbon tax revenue to both passenger rail and highway bus service as a way to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve safety.

Mayor Bachrach, who rides his bicycle for transportation in Smithers and was formerly a commuter on BC Transit’s bus service from the Village of Telkwa to Smithers, defies the stereotypes of rural BC residents as all being wedded to 4-wheel drive pickups. Unlike residents of Metro Vancouver, Bachrach sees the devastating impact of global warming in the form of dead pine trees killed by the pine beetle outbreak set loose by milder winters on a daily basis.

A few hours’ drive south on Highway 16 brings you to Burns Lake, where the local sawmill lies in ruins after an explosion caused by sawing dead pine trees the equipment was never designed to handle. The explosion killed two workers and leaves the economic future of the town in doubt as the timber supply shrinks and becomes less secure with the warming climate.

Without the income to buy and operate cars, young people will put themselves at risk hitchhiking if there is no reasonable and affordable alternative, and in recent years the provincial government has allowed companies including Greyhound to cut service to smaller communities. Owning and driving a car is just not affordable to many in BC’s interior, particularly indigenous youth. The high fares Greyhound charges for short and medium distance trips to smaller communities is a significant barrier to many, even if there is bus service when needed.

Highway bus and passenger train service is an essential safety service, preventing both crash deaths and death from violence, as well as being an essential environmental measure to reduce carbon emissions from excessive automobile use. It is time to put real pressure on the provincial and federal governments to fund good affordable highway bus and passenger train service across the province and country. Public transit is not just an urban issue.

Highway of Tears Safety Resolution – passed by UBCM delegates in Vancouver September 28, 2012:

WHEREAS a number of young women, mostly aboriginal, have been murdered or have gone missing along a stretch of Highway 16 in northern British Columbia now referred to as the “Highway of Tears”;

AND WHEREAS many of these missing women are believed to have been hitch hiking between communities where there is a lack of public transit:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM petition the British Columbia government to implement the recommendation of the Highway of Tears Symposium by establishing and funding a shuttle bus service between northern communities.


Clark Turns to Blacktop Politics to Reverse Political Fortunes – Raising New Tunnel and Highway


Read this column from the Province’s Mike Smyth on BC Premier Christy Clark’s latest attempt to turn around her sagging political fortunes – this time with talk of a replacement for the George Massey Tunnel and widening the Canada 1 Highway to Alberta. (Sept. 30, 2012)

By promising to replace the congested Massey Tunnel and build a four-lane highway all the way to Alberta – with an asterisk next to the “promise,” that is – Christy Clark is going old-school on us.

Black-top politics! It’s a proud B.C. tradition, going back to the grand old days of Social Credit, and continuing with the Liberals and NDP, too.

Now Clark is proving she can buy votes with asphalt with the best of ’em.

Who wouldn’t want to escape the Massey Tunnel traffic-jam torture chamber once and for all? And a four-lane Trans-Canada Highway to the Alberta border would be sweet for drivers in the Interior.

Clark threw in a new 16th Avenue interchange for Surrey, and a whole bunch of new school and hospital projects too, in a spending-spree speech to B.C. municipal leaders.

Now, before you get too excited about all this, be aware there are a few catches.

For one thing, you’ll have to vote Liberal in the next election to get all the goodies, because none of this stuff will get built by May. In fact, you’ll probably have to vote Liberal in two or three elections, because these aren’t exactly short-term projects.

Clark said replacing the Massey Tunnel, for example, would take 10 years – yes, an entire decade – to achieve. (Never mind that they put men on the moon faster than that.)

Widening 280 kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway from two lanes to four also would take a decade, she said. Speedy Gonzales, she ain’t.

Then there’s all the fine print and wriggle room attached to the “promises” as well.

On the Massey Tunnel, Clark only committed to “begin planning” the replacement of the tunnel. Would it be replaced by another tunnel or a bridge? How much would it cost? Would it be tolled?

Clark couldn’t answer any of those questions but, by God, she’s going to start planning to answer them at some point (after the election, that is.)

On the Trans-Canada, Clark said the government is prepared to spend $650 million on the project over the next 10 years. But she wants the federal government to cough up matching funds, and there’s no guarantee that will happen.

At the end of the day, you’re left with some very grand and catchy promises – and a very long and dubious road to achieving them.

And don’t forget that it was just over two weeks ago that Finance Minister Mike de Jong was telling a tale of woe about the province’s budget, and promising to cut spending to contain the deficit.

Now here’s Christy saying she’ll spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new highways, tunnels, schools and hospitals.

Does the public ever notice these contradictions?

Read more: http://www2.canada.com/theprovince/columnists/story.html?id=65fef882-933c-4d63-baf3-b6da106e5670


Cash-Strapped Translink Cutting Back on Expansion Plans


Read this story from the Georgia Straight on Translink’s recent announcement that it will be paring down its plans for expanded service in order to cut costs in the face of a budget deficit. (Sept. 17, 2012)

TransLink is putting off some planned expansion projects over the next three years, including 306,000 hours of increased bus service, after falling short of projected revenues.

But through $98 million in annual efficiencies identified by TransLink over the next three years, the transit authority is planning to proceed with some expansions, such as the region’s contribution to the Evergreen Line project, and an increase of 109,000 in annual hours of transit service.

“There’s 306,000 hours of service that is not going to be introduced over the next three years. It’s needed service, we just can’t deliver it,” Robert Paddon, TransLink’s executive vice-president of strategic planning and public affairs, said at a news conference today (September 17) on the authority’s draft 2013 Base Plan.

Some of the planned projects that will not proceed include expanded SeaBus service on Sundays and holidays outside of the summer months. While B-line service on King George Boulevard will go ahead under the draft plan, the service won’t extend to White Rock Centre as originally anticipated.

In addition to the efficiencies, TransLink will also draw on its reserve fund to maintain existing services and allow some of its planned improvement projects to go ahead.

Some of the other projects that will proceed over the next three years include upgrades to Expo Line stations such as Commercial-Broadway, Metrotown, New Westminster and Joyce-Collingwood. Rapid bus service will be launched on Highway 1 over the Port Mann Bridge between Langley and New Westminster, however a 10-minute frequency along the route will only be offered during peak hours. Buses will run every 30 minutes during off-peak hours.

The 2013 draft plan is contingent on the mayors’ council on regional transportation voting in favour of a two-year $30-million property tax hike. The mayors have previously voted against the increase.

TransLink officials said the transit authority’s budget has been challenged by factors including lower than expected fuel-tax revenues, and lower than anticipated fare and toll revenues.

Read more: http://www.straight.com/article-781151/vancouver/translink-cut-back-some-transit-expansion-projects-part-threeyear-plan

Vancouver's car shares reshaping transportation, cutting carbon emissions

Vancouver’s car shares reshaping transportation, cutting carbon emissions

Vancouver's car shares reshaping transportation, cutting carbon emissions
Car shares like this co-op are fast changing Vancouver’s transportation scene

Read this story from The Tyee on Vancouver’s three diverse and thriving car share programs and how they are reshaping the city’s transportation system and helping to reduce its carbon footprint. (July 31, 2012)

A year back, Alexis Hinde decided to try an experiment: she ditched her private vehicle and switched to a car sharing group. Since then, she said she’s sharply cut back the time she drives.

“It used to be if it was raining I would take my son eight blocks to daycare in the car, because it’s easy to be lazy about that sort of thing. Whereas now if it means having to reserve a car and the expense of that and everything else, I’ll just walk with [my son] to daycare or get on the bike and take him,” she said.

It’s a lifestyle switch that appears to be growing in popularity, as vehicles stenciled with car share company logos become a common sight on Vancouver’s streets. Though each company is different, car shares offer a variety of rental vehicles, often by the hour, and they spare customers the expense of paying directly for maintenance and insurance. After use, share members can drop off vehicles curbside and just walk away. It’s the convenience and potential savings that drew Hinde in.

Of the three car share groups in Metro Vancouver, Modo is now at 9,000 members, up from roughly 7,000 in 2010, and over the last five years, Zipcar has expanded “steadily” to more than 11,000 Vancouver members, according to Business In Vancouver. Car2go has experienced significant growth since setting up shop last year, reporting that 15,000 members have now signed up to drive the company’s small fleet of Smart cars.

And now there’s evidence that growth is starting to achieve what proponents claimed it would. Vancouverites are shedding their private vehicles, reducing their drive times, and lowering their impact on the environment.

Read more: http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/07/31/Car-Shares

Sockeye and other fish and wildlife are threatened by plans to ship jet fuel through the Fraser River estuary (Land Conservancy photo)

Jet Fuel Tankers in Fraser River Would Put Critical Fish Habitat at Risk


As Parliament debates the watering down and the neutering of environmental legislation in Canada you again must be made aware that the lack of leadership by Environment Canada and DFO (with the laws they now have) have allowed one of the most irresponsible projects to be proposed for construction in the world class Fraser River and its globally significant estuary that is home to some of the largest salmon runs and migratory wildlife populations in the world. If Bill C-38 is passed as is, this valuable river and key fishery habitat will receive less protection than it has over the past  few years despite what the Minister Ashfield has promised – a more focused effort to better conserve key habitats and fisheries. This promise is nothing less than a cruel hoax.

The Fraser River is is one of the most critical fishery rivers and key fishery habitats in the world and that fishery does not now receive proper protection and with Bill C-38 it will get much worse. In the past decade DFO and EC have not done their job in enforcing their sections of the Fisheries Act and above all have compromised proper and comprehensive environmental reviews that can harm fish and migratory birds and their essential habitats.

The Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC) attempted to barge jet fuel into the Fraser River in 1988. The then Federal Environmental Review Process held proper hearings and rejected that proposal in 1989 as too great a threat to the estuary and public safety. Imagine – better environmental protection some 23 years ago! Despite that finding, the VAFFC refused to build a safer option – a pipeline from the Vancouver Airport to the Cherry Point refinery and large fuel dock near Bellingham in Washington State.

Two years ago VAFFC detected that times had changed and environmental laws were not being applied (despite the misleading claims of the opposite from DFO Minister Ashfield and Ministers Kent and Oliver) and applied to ship giant Panamax tankers of cheaper jet fuel from offshore locations into the very fragile and highly productive Fraser River Estuary, build a large offloading terminal several kilometers upstream and there store up to 80,000,000 litres of toxic and highly flammable jet fuel on the shores of the Fraser River. So as to ignore the Federal CEAA process, whose weak regulations did not even trigger a comprehensive or public panel review of this major project, VAFFC asked the BC Environmental Assesment Office for a voluntary review and Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) then accepted the Province as a lead in a so called harmonized review with PMV. Most citizens and local city councils have found this arrangement totally unacceptable and unethical.

Why would the Federal government allow a junior government lead review when this is a federal airport, federal port, federal migratory birds, federal fish and habitat and relates to a federal pilotage authority, federal navigable waters and Canadian shipping laws? Also why would the Federal Government delegate environmental impact review to the port (PMV) that is dedicated to industrial development in fish and wildlife habitat areas? This is one of the greatest conflicts of interest imaginable. In this project, PMV will indeed profit from any project approval. Only a lower level Environment Canada official to date has stated in writing that this project is unacceptable (August 2011) – i.e.: “The project would present a new and unacceptable risk to the locally, nationally and internationally-important fish and wildlife populations of the Fraser River Estuary, including migratory birds and species at risk…” and “Environment Canada is of the opinion that there is a limited ability with currently available technologies to effectively control a potential Jet-A fuel spill in the Fraser river Estuary”.

Last week the PMV released a new report rationalizing the low risk of tanker traffic in the Fraser River. This is despite the fact that the VAFFC could have up to 100 tankers and barges a year entering the estuary full of toxic and  flammable jet fuel. We have had a safety systems engineer review the tanker traffic report produced by offshore consultants for PMV. A covering letter from VAPOR and the VAPOR tanker traffic critique are attached for your information and action.

It is urgently requested that BC MLAs and federal MPs look into this matter, in that we are witnessing a serious slide into a high risk activity in this world class fish and wildlife habitat area and the BC and Federal environmental assessment processes seem unwilling to relate to this project in a a serious or meaningful way. Also if Bill C-38 is passed by the Harper Government, this type of irresponsible risk exposure to our environment and public safety is bound to increase greatly over the next several years and our living resources in the river and their habitats will again be further degraded. Our children and grand children will damn those that allowed this to happen.

It is urgent that you now act on these matters in that Canada will be greatly diminished if this type of irresponsible environmental planning and assessment is allowed to continue.

Economist and author Jeff Rubin (image: gulfofmexicooilspillblog)

Renowned Energy Economist, Peak Oil Expert Jeff Rubin Speaking at Capilano This Thursday


Former CIBC World Markets Chief Economist-turned Peak Oil spokesperson Jeff Rubin will be discussing his latest book, The End of Growth, at Capilano University this Thursday evening, starting at 7:30.

After building a successful career out of accurately predicting the rise and fall of oil prices for his clients, Rubin shocked many in the financial community when he left his position at CIBC to focus on informing the public about the dangers of an oil-dependent globalized economic model. He and a growing number of energy and economics experts believe the end of cheap, easy-to-get fossil fuels means higher and more volatile energy prices which will render the distance and energy-intensive global economy unworkable in the near future.

Rubin’s first book on the subject, Why Your World is About to Get A Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization became a Canadian bestseller in 2009, launching his career as an author and public speaker on issues surrounding Peak Oil.

The Toronto-based Rubin’s stop in North Vancouver is part of a speaking tour publicizing his sophomore effort, The End of Growth.

In addition to his two books, Rubin publishes a weekly blog on the Globe and Mail’s website, titled Jeff Rubin’s Smaller World. 

On his own website, Rubin explains:

It wasn’t subprime mortgages but triple-digit oil prices that brought down the world economy.

And unless that economy started to wean itself off an ever-depleting supply of affordable oil, there would be other recessions to follow as economic recoveries would simply push oil prices right back into triple-digit range. But weaning our economy off oil meant, at the same time, making fundamental changes in the way we live.

This is not the kind of message investment banks want their chief economists delivering these days, to either governments or investors. But the urgency of this message grows with every passing day.

Tickets for Thursday night’s show are available online through Capilano University.


Jericho Sailing Club slams Harper's closure of Kits Point Coast Guard Station

CKNW: Jericho Sailing Club slams Harper’s closure of Kits Point Coast Guard Station


Jericho Sailing Club slams Harper's closure of Kits Point Coast Guard Station

Read this story from CKNW on the reaction to the Harper Government’s decision to close Kits Point Light Station without public consultation. (May 22, 2012)

The General Manager of the Jericho Sailing Centre says closing the Kits Point Coast Guard station impacts the safety of all marine recreational users.

Mike Cotter says with 250,000 boat launches a year they have their own volunteer rescue team who could now see their number of emergency call outs double.

Cotter says there was certainly no consulation before closing the coast guard station despite comments from Heritage Minister James Moore.

“I am baffled when I see the Ministers comments that this had broad public consulation before hand, it certainly didn’t. Our facility is putting more individuals out on the water for recreation than any other facility in the Vancouver area and this is the first time we have heard of it.”

He says it is disappointing to see a decision like this made in Ottawa by people who have no idea what local needs are.

“I would like to see them come out to Vancouver and take a first hand look at the situation and not sit back in Ottawa and make a decision that really affects people here, safety here. In the face of growth in recreational boating in the growth of marine tanker traffic through Burrard inlet this makes no sense at all.”

Cotter warns the move will negatively impact safety.

“I would like to invite the Minister {James Moore} to come down to Jericho and I will give him a tour in a rescue boat and he can see for himself because I think from his vantage point he is not getting a clear picture.”

He says the coast guard are also first reponders in the event of an oil spill in Burrard inlet and moving them farther away makes no sense.

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