More bus routes with greater capacity. Ground level retail in proximity to low-rise residential buildings. Communities designed with walking, cycling, and integrated multi-modal mobility in mind. And yes, rapid transit.
Surrey and Langley are two obvious examples of cities south of the Fraser taking slow, but steady and at times bold, steps towards the future, thanks in no small part to the work done by people like Paul Lee and Nathan Pachal.
In this second edition of our “Predecessor/Successor” series (see also Episode 31), Lee and Pachal explore the similarities between their own outsider experiences, and their respective roles promoting progressive, sometimes unpopular agendas, as both urbanists and leaders.
Lee worked in transportation planning for over three decades in both the private and public sectors, first working on implementation of the ’90s-era regional transportation plan, and most recently managing the City of Surrey’s light rail portfolio (may it rest in peace). Pachal is in his first full term, and fourth year, as councillor for the City of Langley; he’s also the indefatigable author of the long-running South Fraser Blog.
Both of Gord’s guests are used to talking to people about transportation investments, but as often from the prospective of what communities want, as what they really need. And dealing with the political decisions, as Lee learned, that often fit neither category. “Where do we need to win? Let’s build Skytrain there.”
Yet, despite occasionally blips in the process, there may be little doubt that there’s a line connecting the type of work Lee did in the 1990s and 2000s, and what Pachal has seen emerge in his short time on council. In this case (as he says with an almost astonished grin) a bus every 90 seconds in Langley City along Fraser Highway. “Walk 5 minutes, and you’re in a farm field.”
Transportation planners and policy geeks — like these two guys — know the real secret about growth in Metro Vancouver. The really exciting stuff is happening south of the Fraser.