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  1. The ownership of waterfront land in this area is confusing. To many people, perhaps the majority of citizens, the transportation hub is the most important land use there. A public land use . Yet we see these occasional private projects crop up that truly stick it in the eye of public access, future transportation and any semblance of the high quality urban design this area requires.
    On the latter point, has anyone in any public agency given even five minutes of thought as to what mid-century transportation looks like? Or to the necessary expansion of pedestrian space as local, regional and national rail and ferries are reconstituted?

    1. Yes.
      See lots of information here:
      http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/currentplanning/whitecaps/presentationboards2.htm
      You’ll see reference to future passenger marine terminal (in addition to Seabus), as well as future rail lines (in addition to WCE).
      Much of the “hub” has been considered – and the preservation of waterfront views from what amounts to an inland site several blocks from the water runs counter to the development of the hub.

    2. Thank you for this link, Guest. I was at the VPL that day and saw the display panels and have the PDFs archived. I would consider this effort an initial first step, a rather awkward reaction to the private waterfront stadium proposal. Then silence …. until the big Origami bird landed in a very tiny nest nearby.
      The crucial issue of land ownership and a truly forward-looking vision of transportation in 2050 have not been adequately addressed at Waterfront Station. There is a new federal government in place that just assumed an important and highly visible role in Paris to reach an international agreement to limit carbon emissions with the goal of reducing the target rise in global temperatures to LESS than two degrees C, hopefully 1.5 degrees. Do they even know what that means to airports and flight? To electricity generation? To rail infrastructure? To the crucial role this waterfront site will have?
      There are some valuable considerations that must be taken to heart regarding this site. It is an historic and much active national rail terminus that links to the core of the Metro and to the ocean in one locus. With any effort, even modest ones, to reduce emissions through national programs in coming years, flight will decrease and demand for rail will increase. The additional West Coast Express-like double-loaded 200m platform indicated in the Waterfront Hub planning panels will prove horribly inadequate when the demand would probably require 10-12 tracks in an array of 500+ m platforms for a high-speed continental rail service in the latter half of this century. The platforms must be elevated enough to buy a century while the sea level rises anywhere between 1.5m and 5m 100 years from now. Then you have the as-yet unrealized potential for BC Ferries to run high-capacity passenger ferries from the downtown waterfront to the downtown waterfronts of the cities on Vancouver Island, essentially creating a highly efficient walk-off, walk-on rail-to-ferry service without the level of expensive infrastructure required when transporting cars and trucks. In considering all the above, this entire site must eventually accommodate a few hundred million national and continental rail passengers, local transit users and coastal ferry passengers every year.
      When we see the waterfront hub carved up today with a mix of unconsolidated property ownership that could severely crimp a crucial public transportation service with private tower projects, even with TransLink’s accommodation of tower development there (this accommodation probably stems from their historic underfunding), it demonstrates a very troubling myopia about the future. The planning of this area MUST look forward 100 years, otherwise there is the risk crucial transportation links and services will be erased before anyone realizes how essential they will be, and Vancouver’s link to the rest of the nation could be diminished.
      In my view, especially with the new federal emphasis on limiting the effects of climate change and building urban infrastructure, a federal agency like Port Metro Vancouver should start negotiating with the private owners to purchase their properties, and once all the important waterfront parcels are assembled, to start planning for the future well being of Canadians.

      1. Now you’re talking. At around $100 million a kilometre for TGV-style rail it will cost around $450 billion to barrel it through to Toronto from Vancouver. Plus a few billion to drill through the mountains. Add to this another $50 billion to run it up to Montreal and now we’re talking so real money.
        Since that cost is for the short route through the US, if you want to run it up to Calgary and Edmonton, or even through Canada that’s a hundred, or more, billion extra?
        If we take a route through Canada and are stopping in Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, etc., we must add time to the overall trip. Non-stop would be at best 17 hours. With stops it’s almost a full 24 hour day. So you have to add three or four meals and a bed for sleeping.
        Can you pull it all together for around $500 a ticket, all in, and be competitive?

      2. You cannot adhere to the principle of keeping the planetary temperature below a 1.5 degree increase and maintain flight at current levels. That is not just a matter of principle, it’s also a matter of economics and thermodynamics.
        Aviation fuel will not adhere to today’s artificially low prices forever. The median price of a barrel of oil between the highest point ever reached and today’s low is over $90 / barrel, just where it sat less than two years ago. The volatility of petroleum fuel price and supply alone affects every facet of an airline’s financial planning. Two years ago I sent a CD by airmail to New Brunswick and paid $3.20 in fuel surcharges. There is a price point below where the costs of extraction exceed the return, especially with over-leveraged outfits (e.g. US shale today where both the Eagle Ford and Bakken formations are expected to be in decline by 2020, thereby erasing today’s glut). There is also a price point above which flight and excessive fossil-fueled road travel becomes unaffordable (e.g. peak price of 2008). There is a lower-than-peak price point where airlines and their business customers and consumers become vulnerable to higher interest rates.
        The cost of an electrified trans Canada HSR line is best managed when the construction is phased over two or three decades. The costs of 50 years of HSR service will be less than the aggregate expenditures and debt of the top 25 airports over the last 50 years, and the environmental impact will be incalculably lower on a per passenger basis. HSR will generate increasing revenue for a century and longer in both passenger and light freight service. Frequent rail service can move over 1,000 passengers per train, about four times more than an average international wide-bodied jet, and eight times more than a medium-sized trans-continental jet (e.g. 737 or A340), and achieve a lower per passenger operating cost.
        Building on the flat Prairies and other non-mountainous regions will be a lot cheaper than you imply, and that’s where you start. Connecting large city-pairs (Toronto-Montreal, Vancouver Seattle, Calgary-Edmonton) is also most viable because of the very convenient centre-to-centre high capacity service which outcompetes airlines to the periphery of cities. Trains can move more people than planes far more cheaply.
        Extending high capacity but slower commuter rail outwards from major HSR stations is very affordable by comparison to flight. If designed well, the commuter rail corridors could be converted to HSR as the population grows. Moreover, airports are not known for attracting high-value development, amenities and services other than hotels, whereas train stations are excellent nuclei around which multi-zoned developments can and do grow.

  2. That is very disappointing. Ports Canada and TransLink need to maintain vital public interests and functions there. Perhaps the Metro, the province and the feds should start making offers with the goal of maintaining these sites for the public good.

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