Infrastructure
December 8, 2020

The Precarious State of Bowinn Ma

Bowinn Ma is the provincial Minister of State for Infrastructure.  A Minister of State, not an actual Minister (as many of her fans anticipated).  But she nonetheless has a rather ambitious to-do list.

This* is what’s in her Mandate Letter:

  • Extend the Millennium Line to Arbutus, with an eventual terminus at UBC
  • Prompt design and construction of the Surrey-Langley Skytrain.
  • Widen Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley
  • Replace the Massey crossing
  • Complete the Pattullo Bridge Replacement Project.
  • Support planning for key transit projects, like high-speed transit links for the North Shore and the expansion of rail up the Fraser Valley.

In short: the biggest roads and the longest trains.  Not all on her own, of course; responsibilities for TransLink alone are split among three Ministers of various kinds.   But the part of her portfolio that she will be tested on will be getting the big road projects unstoppably underway before the next election.

So if conflict is to occur, it’s less likely to be among her colleagues than between her mandate and her rhetoric when it comes to shaping growth with big-time road infrastructure.

The implicit expectation by the Premier may be that the high-growth parts of our region – east of Langley, south of the Fraser – can become more like the region he represents (Langford and the western communities of Victoria), where working people should still be able to afford a house to drive to and won’t pay tolls to get there. And to do that we need more big roads, bridges (or tunnels), with some incidental room for transit.

Ma has argued that such a strategy is futile.  Widening highways and building untolled crossings to reduce congestion just begets more congestion.  (She made a celebrated speech in the Legislature on that very point – here.)

 

So why would the Premier appoint an MLA whose public position is that the era of big roads is (or should be) over?  The chattering classes (Price Tags division) have come up with some possible reasons:

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Should be an interesting evening in West Vancouver tonight, as the district holds its long-anticipated community meeting on the matter of the B-line rapid bus service proposed for Marine Drive.

Community Meeting – West Vancouver B-Line Service
West Vancouver Community Centre gymnasium
February 21, 6-9 p.m.

Presentation boards here.

Can’t make the meeting? The deadline to send feedback is one week from today (Feb 28 at 11:59pm) — here’s the link to submit online.

Why might tonight’s meeting be interesting? For all the wrong reasons, of course.

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