Energy & Resources
April 3, 2018

Proposed Casino Motors to Delta Council


Meanwhile South of the Fraser River where the 20th century rhetoric of motordom and industrialization reign supreme, Gateway Casinos soldiers on with a 70 million dollar casino to be plunked right beside the Delta side of the Massey Tunnel. But wait~Gateway Casinos insist this will “not be just about gambling but would provide an entertainment experience”. 
The property is owned by a company of Ron Toigo of White Spot. For motordom a new parking lot will be created with 800 parking spaces and 200,000 square feet built to accommodate gambling. The same Delta Mayor and City Council still insisting on their ten lane overbuilt Massey Bridge (with one double salary  dipping  provincial liberal MLA who also picks up a pay cheque as a Delta Councillor) still want their casino, located in a spot easily accessible by car. What a surprise. The 1960’s are alive and well in Delta.
The Delta Optimist  reports  “Gateway hopes to begin construction this fall with a grand opening in 2020. The project includes a five-storey, 116-room hotel, meeting space, eateries and a casino with 500 slots, 24 gaming tables and several e-tables. There would be room for further gaming expansion.In a statement, the company notes the community throughout the process has been very engaged and provided valuable feedback that will continue to shape the look and feel of the project.”
It is a bit odd that the language used about the casino is very similar to the language used about the one-sided process to “engage” the community about the last Provincial government’s multi billion dollar Massey Bridge. Regardless, the Delta Mayor and Council have agreed to fast track this proposal, which will provide Delta with an additional two to three million dollars annually with their casino “cut”.
As Gateway casino states this will “grow the community’s economy” by
creating new well-paying jobs in Delta while improving the entertainment and hospitality option in the community…“There is great potential in Delta and a Gateway entertainment destination, with a number of gaming and non-gaming attractions, on the Town and Country site would allow Delta to significantly advance its tourism strategy and deliver on the tourism objectives set out in the strategy.”
Imagine if a seniors’ centre or new rental housing was fast tracked with such enthusiasm or as quickly as this casino is. Despite all the bad news emerging about where casino money is actually from, the City of Delta  hopes to have this casino before Council this month. If you can’t industrialize the Fraser River , you can  still plunk casinos on it.
So last century.

Read more »


While proposed by the Fire Chief in Surrey as a way to give more parking back to communities, Chief Garis’ willingness to review the sacrosanct five meters of parking  clearance required curbside beside fire hydrants opens up the potential for all kinds of new street use. Working for a municipality the requirements for fire hydrant clearances are never questioned, and even in the computer age where every hydrant is tracked and marked on line, even landscaping is ordinanced and suppressed around fire hydrants. Chief Garis questioned the five metre clearances  with Surrey’s City Engineer and while he found that most North American by-laws limit parking to five or three metres away from a hydrant, the requirement could be reduced to half of that.As noted in the Vancouver Courier The National Fire Protection Association in the United States recommends a minimum buffer of five feet, or about 1.5 metres.”
A study showed that parked cars only impeded hydrant access if the setback was two metres or less, and noted that “with the advancement of GPS mapping and related technologies, along with local drivers’ awareness of hydrant locations, visibility is less of an issue in compact urban settings. The space doesn’t need to be large enough for a fire engine to park either, since they rarely pull right up to the curb, and instead block traffic lanes.”
While the Fire Chief saw this as a way to give back space to parking for cars, is this not another opportunity to create more parkettes and widen facilities for pedestrians and cyclists? If there are thousands of fire hydrants in each Metro Vancouver municipality could this not be a way to improve the public realm for active transportation users with benches and other amenities? While the Minister of Transportation is prepared to consider the changes to clearances, the proposal will be going to the Union of B.C. Municipalities for consideration. This might also be an opportune time to explore how else this newly acquired space on almost every block of a municipality can potentially  be repurposed to the benefit of  pedestrian and cyclists.

Read more »


What can London, Stockholm and Singapore teach New York City and other places considering  congestion pricing? The New York Times explores how these fees have been implemented and how they have resulted in less traffic, reduced congestion, and  less air pollution.  “Each city does congestion pricing in its own way. Singapore sets varying fees based on the road and time of day, and adjusts them in response to traffic conditions, with fees going up when there is congestion, and down when there is not. Stockholm also sets varying fees for a congestion zone covering the central city area, with the highest fees at the busiest times of day. But its system is less flexible than Singapore’s since those fees do not regularly fluctuate with traffic and any changes require the approval of Sweden’s Parliament.
“In contrast, London charges a simple flat-rate of $16 per day no matter how often a vehicle goes in and out of a designated congestion zone in the center of the city. In New York, a state task force has proposed a flat rate of $11.52 per day for passenger cars — and $25.34 for trucks — for entering a congestion zone in Manhattan that would stretch from 60th Street south to the Battery. Taxis and ride-hailing cars could face a separate charge of $2 to $5 per ride.”
“All three cities invested heavily in technology and infrastructure before they rolled out their congestion-pricing systems. Stockholm spent the most — $237 million — to set up a system of gantries and cameras in 2007 that register and identify vehicles by snapping photos of license plates, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit policy and advocacy group based in New York that has compared the three systems.”
Costs were later recovered from congestion fees.  “London receives about $230 million annually in net revenue, while Stockholm’s system raises $155 million and Singapore’s generates $100 million each year, according to the campaign. New York’s task force estimated its proposed congestion plan could raise more than $1 billion annually for public transit.”
Bike lanes, new buses and additional transit services have been added while congestion fees have doubled in London since implemented. Singapore plans to use satellites to replace their physical gantries and camera systems in 2020. And there are troubles even  with road pricing~”London’s gridlock has returned, driven in part by an influx of Uber and ride-hailing cars that did not exist a decade ago. Singapore is working to make its system more efficient and less costly by turning to satellites to replace the physical gantries beginning in 2020.
Daniel Hellden, a vice mayor of Stockholm who oversees the traffic division, said that congestion taxes have raised millions of dollars for building roads and highways, expanding the subway system, and making other investments in public transit. Torbjorn Heierson, a regional director for the Swedish Association of Road Transport Companies, which represents the hauling industry, said that he has come to see the benefits of congestion pricing. “We are expanding public transportation so that private individuals can leave their cars at home and make room for the professional drivers who have goods to deliver”.
You can read the whole article here.
 

 

Read more »


Imagine if a city like New York City decided to get rid of  five billion US dollars of fossil fuel related stocks in their $189 billion dollar pension fund that pays to retired city workers and school teachers.   That’s exactly what they are doing over the next five years as well as suing those oil and gas companies for complicit involvement in global warming.
As reported in the The Guardian New York’s divestment may persuade other cities to divest in fossil fuels and “build momentum in the global shift required to reduce emissions and stave off the worst consequences of climate change.”
“This is a really big deal,” said Jeffrey Sachs, an economist at New York’s Columbia University and special adviser to the UN secretary-general. “Pension funds of other major US cities will follow, I think. New York is the neighborhood of the very big money managers. It’s a powerful, personal signal to them that they cannot keep funding the sorts of projects they have in the past.” Other cities including Paris, Berlin, Sydney and Stockholm are also committed to getting rid of fossil fuel stocks. In fact with groups like the Norwegian central bank, Oxford University and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as much as 6 Trillion dollars of divestment may happen.
While right-wing groups see such a plan to divest fossil fuel stocks as not a good faith way to create change, Mayor deBlasio of New York City states he is doing this for future generations. But will this divestment and boycott be enough to impact the oil and gas companies? And how will they adjust to lowering civic demands for their products and their stocks?

 
 

Read more »


The Delta Optimist  has published a  letter that really should have  been their big headline. But never mind~Price Tags Vancouver will do it. We all remember the defeated Liberal government’s bandying around of the proposed multi-billion overbuilt Massey Bridge which would have provided ten lanes on the bridge and led to the industrialization of that part of the Fraser River. The ex premier of the province, Ms. Clark actually got on the podium and when asked during the election why this unsustainable bridge to congestion on each side of it was being built, happily announced “JOBS!”.
It turns out that despite what the past Provincial Liberal government said to the public and continually announced, there was another option to the building of this billion dollar bridge behemoth. Specialists from the Netherlands prepared a presentation~on twinning the existing tunnel in 2013. The Massey Tunnel is named after Douglas Massey’s father, and it was Mr. Massey who made a Freedom Of Information request to the then Provincial Liberal government. That turned up nothing. But a more recent repeated request turned up this Dutch Engineering twin tunnel study and it is publicly available courtesy of the new Transportation Minister, Claire Trevena.
As Mr. Massey wrote in the Optimist: “ A meeting was held on April 4, 2013 between the Ministry of Transportation and Tunnel Engineering Consultants (TEC) of the Netherlands to update the ministry on the state of the art of immersed tunneling.
The content of the 60-page presentation included introduction of TEC worldwide tunnel projects both recent and proposed, and cost-effective options for the George Massey Tunnel. Special attention was given to tunnel safety, earthquake resistance design and comparison with bridge solutions.
The following are quotes taken from that presentation:
1.Tunnels are more suited for various and poor soil conditions.
2. Tunnels are shorter in length than a bridge and have a smaller footprint.
3.Tunnels can be built parallel and close to existing tunnels.
4.Tunnel construction is capable of dealing with severe seismic conditions.
5.Tunnel construction where 80 to 90 per cent of the work could be done by local contractors.
6.Tunnels can be built “safer than an open highway.”
This Dutch team also recommended that they assess the structure and integrity of the current tunnel and increase river depth by using an asphalt mattress instead of riprap. They suggested using longitudinal ventilation and repurpose the existing ventilation ducts as escape pods and for conduits for cyclists and walkers, among other innovative ideas. This report was never made public. As Mr. Massey states ” the former Liberal government never revealed the true facts or alternatives to the public. Instead, it followed the demands of the Port of Vancouver and wrote fear mongering reports that suited its agenda of removing the George Massey Tunnel and deepening the lower Fraser River to suit present and future industrial interests.”
The Dutch have been creating these types of submerged tunnels successfully for years. Looking at twinning the tunnel would preserve the existing habitat and ecosystem of the Fraser, and restrain the industrialization of this sensitive bog and marshland.  Why was this report not released before to the public? And is this a viable option for  creating more capacity crossing the Fraser River?
As Mr. Massey summarizes that this sensitive area is “known the world over as vital component for a continued healthy ecosystem that supports a migratory food source for all marine and wildfowl life from the headwaters of the Fraser River along migratory routes of the Pacific Coast. May the true facts be known.”

Read more »


Vicki Huntington needs no introduction to the people living in Delta. Ms. Huntington was the former MLA for Delta South and has an outstanding  background of public service.  Among her many accomplishments she has been a band manager for the Gitanmaax First Nation in Hazelton, worked with the RCMP in their security services, and consulted with  ministers of the Crown in Ottawa. She also served five terms as a Councillor in the City of Delta and two terms as the MLA.  She believes strongly in maintaining farmland for future generations and has been recognized for her strong commitment to farming and nature.
Vicki did not run in the last Provincial election for her independent seat~had she run as an independent, she would have been part of the balance of power in the Provincial government coalition. Instead, Delta Councillor Ian Paton of the Liberals won that seat, and currently double dips between sitting on Delta Council (he is paid $62,000 a year plus his expenses) as well as sitting as an MLA where he makes an additional $106,000 plus. Mr. Paton was named newsmaker of the year  by the Delta Optimist, not for double dipping and denying Delta of a more independent voice on Council, but  because he became  a member of the Provincial legislature.  Mr. Paton claims to want the farmer’s best interest but has been unwavering in the support of a multi-billion dollar ten lane bridge which will industrialize the Fraser River, create congestion on either side of the bridge, and purportedly bring more industry to Delta.
What a shame that the Delta Optimist did not recognize Ms Huntington who was the first independent MLA in over sixty years, and the first to be re-elected. However Ms. Huntington has been appointed to the new committee reviewing the Agricultural Land Commission and Agricultural Land Reserve along with eight other members. Their mission is to provide  “strategic advice, policy guidance and recommendations on how to help revitalize the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Agricultural Land Commission to ensure the provincial goals of preserving agricultural land and encouraging farming and ranching continue to be a priority.”
There is no doubt that the Agricultural Land Reserve is essential to the health and food security of British Columbia and must be maintained for future generations. Price Tags Vancouver has already written about the City of Delta carving out ten acres of farmland for a “truck staging area” for port bound trucks, and how the Port of Vancouver has another  81 acres of farmland in Richmond to add to their 1,457 hectares currently in “industrial use”. It’s a huge problem~should the Port be allowed to take the most arable farmland in Canada to use for truck and container parking and portage? How can farmers be compensated and continue farming when they can garner economic windfalls from development through port expansion or pseudo “farm estates” to well-heeled buyers?
This new Agricultural Land Commission review  committee will seek opinions and feedback and hold meetings with  farming and ranching communities. Recommendations could include changes to the way the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Agricultural Land Commission is set up, regulated and administered. This review is badly needed to ensure that agricultural land is reserved for future populations, and to stop speculators buying up farmland for other purposes. The current MLA for Delta South Mr. Paton is already naysaying the committee appointments,  suggesting that maintaining land in agricultural use restrains the rights of farmers to get extra income from their land. But farmers and speculators did buy that agricultural land  ostensibly for agricultural purposes, and for the future of the region, we must ensure that this agricultural land, the very best in Canada, remains for future generations.

Read more »


In a pretty dramatic move to halt air pollution, The New York Times reports on China boldly ceasing the production of car models in China that do not meet fuel economy standards for the country. They stopped over 500 different car models effective January the 1st. This suspension impacted both domestic and foreign  automobile ventures, including partnerships with Volkswagen and Benz.
China produced 28 million vehicles in 2016 and also has scores of smaller-scale car factories. While there is some credence that this new policy  centralizes and consolidates the car industry,  “the measure pointed to a mounting willingness by China to test forceful antipollution policies and assume a leading role in the fight against climate change. The country, which for years prioritized economic growth over environmental protection and now produces more than a quarter of the world’s human-caused greenhouse gases, has emerged as an unlikely bastion of climate action after President Trump’s rejection of the Paris climate agreement.”
China is also providing incentives for power companies to operate more cleanly by creating the largest carbon market. While the Chinese government currently has bonuses to produce “clean energy” vehicles, these will be replaced by quotas for clean energy vehicles in 2020. When you have the biggest consumer demand for cars in the world, global automobile manufacturers  respond in a relatively positive way.  As Michelle Krebs an AutoTrader Group analyst observed ” “The simple fact that China is the biggest market means automakers will be accommodating“. China is now leading the way in auto emission policy, unlike the United States which is looking at relaxing tailpipe emission standards.
This YouTube video from CGTN from January 2017 shows that at that time only one in fifty cars in China were electric, and unfortunately portrays electric vehicles as “cheaper than taking transit”. It does illustrate how remarkable China’s new policy is in demanding the adaptation from automakers to clean energy vehicles in a relatively short time frame.
 
 

 

 
 
 

Read more »

 

It used to be that power plants caused a lot of pollution, and coal-fired plants in 2011 contributed to 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year.   As reported in Bloomberg News today it is cars, trucks, planes and boats that are the biggest source of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution
So how did that happen? While electricity use has not declined, it is now being generated from cleaner sources, most notably by the decline in using coal power. Coal has declined as a source by 33 per cent in the last decade, while natural gas usage has increased by 60 per cent. It is the clean up of the power sources for the electricity grid which has made the major change.
Carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, planes and boats exceeded that of electrical production in 2016, and has continued to widen.While cars are more efficient, the United States is considering under the Trump administration “rolling back the toughest fuel-efficiency standards, which are set to take effect in the early 2020s.”
The development of electric cars and the continuing decline in the price of battery packs will eventually impact emissions. It is expected that by the mid 2020’s electric cars will be the standard for reliability and convenience than the gasoline-powered equivalents. And here is where it gets interesting~”When the electrification of the U.S. auto fleet begins in earnest, pollution from the two biggest energy sectors—electricity and transportation—may ultimately converge. Those electric cars are going draw their power from the grid.”

 
 

Read more »


In the “everything bigger is better” category, the president of Port Vancouver has announced new plans to deal with the growing trend of longer, heftier cruise ships that won’t be able to get under the Lions Gate Bridge  and would have taken up the lion’s share of ship parking at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal downtown. The Port’s answer? Propose building  new bigger and better mega boat  terminals in Richmond or Delta to accommodate those gargantuan large cruise ships.
There is already a proposal for a two billion dollar  container terminal expansion at the existing terminal at Roberts Bank in  Delta. This is planned despite the environmental impact on  “hundreds of thousands”  of western sandpipers that are migrating to spring Arctic breeding grounds. These migratory birds feed solely on an algae found only on the Roberts Bank mudflats, nowhere else. And it appear that this algae cannot be moved or replaced, which would mean that this bird migration  could become extinct if port expansion proceeds.  Delta is also  proudly talking about their new parking facility for Port destined container hauling trucks located along Highway 17, also taking out even more of the Agricultural Land Reserve, which also happens to be the most arable soil in Canada.
But back to the Port. Port President and CEO Robin Silvester states in the Richmond News “We’re very early in the process. Cruise ships are getting bigger. When Canada Place was being built, it used to handle five cruise ships, but now it can’t even handle three of the bigger ones that come in at the same time. In fact, if you look at the size of Canada Place, if you were building a cruise terminal from scratch you’d build it the size of Canada Place just to handle one vessel… so it’s a challenge and we’re very good at dealing with challenges.”
In the Caribbean several ports have paid over $100 million to expand their port terminals to accommodate the new cruise mega ships.  Building the facilities creates jobs, with jobs also continuing to serve mega port passengers. They are also  labour intensive, with heavy demands on transportation and supply networks while the ships are in port. Unfortunately these megaships also cause urban air pollution although they are “smartly marketed as green ships”. They have “emission peaks” and burn massive amounts of fuel oil even when docked. But as the Port Cities Newsletter observes  “Cities should not be powerless victims: they could actively shape the future of global maritime trade. Mayors of the major port-cities should discuss if their interests are served with ever larger ships. If the conclusion is negative, they could collectively decide to stop accommodating them.”

 
 
 

Read more »

 

Love or hate the idea of Uber, this little gem of a YouTube video clearly outlines what we often forget-we are using huge containers of steel to transport ourselves in and out of cities, and have grown accustomed to norms about motordom that are rather ridiculous.
Produced for Uber, this advertisement “Lets’ Unlock Cities” clearly shows how much space is taken up for the commuting, management, and parking of cars. The YouTube video is below.

 
As described in AdWeek  “The spot is based around research that Uber commissioned that said drivers in nine of Asia’s biggest cities are stuck in traffic jams for 52 minutes every day and spend a 26 more minutes looking for parking. Almost four in 10 car owners have considered ditching their car over the last year, the survey added.”
Uber sees their marketing opportunity in the trend to get rid of individual cars and has a new website, www.unlockingcities.com that contains their Asian city research.

Read more »