June 25, 2019

The Intergenerational Lessons of Outsiderdom, with Paul Lee & Nathan Pachal

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.

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Nathan Pachal is a councilor in Langley City, and a friend of Price Tags.  HERE, he discusses the business case (105-page PDF) just released by TransLink on the Surrey-Newton-Guilford light rail project.  This SNG-LRT is Phase One, with Fraser Highway to Langley to follow as Phase Two.

Transportation nerd quiz:  what percentage of trips that originate South of the Fraser end there? Write down your answer, then read on. Prepare to be astonished.

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Are you getting ready for the upcoming 2018 civic election in Metro Vancouver?  If so, here’s a chance to speak to candidates by taking a 5-minute survey on “The State of Local Government“.

(Results to be released HERE in September 2018.)

The survey has been put out by City of Langley councillor and past Price Tags contributor Nathan Pachal, and the Young Regional Leadership Collective (YRLC).

More about the YRLC, from the group’s website follows.

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From Nathan Pachal’s South Fraser Blog:

Province’s own numbers show Massey Bridge unneeded

As can be seen on the Port Mann Bridge, there is less traffic on the bridge today than went across the old bridge in the past. There has only been a jump in traffic over the Port Mann this May and June likely due to the Pattullo Bridge being virtually closed due to rehabilitation.

The environmental assessment for the proposed George Massey Tunnel replacement bridge is currently in progress. 145 pages of the material submitted by the province for the environmental assessment deals with traffic.
Here’s some facts: Average traffic volumes across the George Massey Tunnel and Alex Fraser Bridge since 2005. Select table to enlarge.

Traffic volume through the Massey Tunnel has been declining over the last decade. There was less traffic going through the Massey Tunnel in 2014 on average than in 2003.
The Ministry of Transportation’s “independent” traffic model shows that a tolled crossing would drop traffic to a level not seen since the 1980s. TransLink numbers show an even stepper decline in traffic.

Traffic forecasts. TransLink’s tolled traffic forecast: TL-RTM Tolled. Independent traffic forecast: SDG Independent. Select chart to enlarge.

The Alex Fraser Bridge has seen an increase in traffic. If the provincial government was serious about reducing congestion, it would toll all river crossings to reduce congestion, using the revenue to invent in keeping the current road network in a state of good repair, and investing the remainder into transit and the regional transportation vision.
If the province invested the money it spent on the Port Mann Bridge and soon-to-be George Massey Bridge instead on the regional transportation vision, we would have world-leading bus service and rail rapid transit along Broadway, King George, 104th Avenue, and Fraser Highway to Langley today.

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