Here’s my latest column in Business in Vanouver (May 1-7, 2007, Issue 914) – to whom I am continually grateful for publishing my comments these many years.
This is the unedited version, and hence a little longer than the published column.
The North Shore is about to lose this game of bridge.
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Ever since the 1950s, the North Shore has wanted a Third Crossing. The failure of that project in 1972 was a turning point in this region’s history – and though it may seem counter-intuitive, that is one of the reasons we are such a livable and prosperous city. But those stuck in traffic on the roads leading to Lions Gate Bridge still yearn for something better.
On this side of Burrard Inlet, we’ve pretty much done everything we can to prevent another vehicle crossing. Coal Harbour was designed to eliminate the possibility of a waterfront road; we refused to entertain any more lanes through Stanley Park; we rejected the possibility of an Alberni-Georgia couplet; and we traffic-calmed the West End. Councils across the ideological spectrum have agreed: No more capacity for single-occupant vehicles.
On the other side of Burrard Inlet, most people have come to terms with the situation. In fact, given the modest growth in the westerly part of the North Shore so far, the line-ups to the bridge haven’t really changed that much. The worst traffic is on weekends; otherwise people have organized their lives to accommodate a three-lane reality. (And, counter-intuitively, that’s one of the reasons their quality of life is so high.)
Now things are changing: a faster, wider road and a lot more growth. When the Province announces the widening of a road, real-estate development invariably follows – and that’s what is happening up the Sea-to-Sky corridor. Squamish is closer to Vancouver than Langley, say the ads. The Sunshine Coast is booming. And everyone expects to drive.