Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Open letter to Mayors MR/PM on Translink's Moving Forward Plan

Dear Mayor Daykin and Mayor MacLean,

The Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Chapter of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition urges you to vote in favour of Translink's Moving Forward Plan on October 7, in order to secure $70 million additional funding for improvements to the regional transportation network, including the restoration of funding for cycling infrastructure from $3 million to $6 million per year,
a key step to the $23 million per year that TransLink is proposing to meet regional transportation goals.

It is essential to focus on improving public transit and cycling. Many people in the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows area are poorly served when it comes to public transportation as well as safe cycling infrastructure, so that many feel they don't have any other option than taking the car. As you both know, our communities don't have a whole lot of options anymore to expand our east-west road network, and if we don't get serious about giving people other viable options, our traffic problems will continue to worsen.

The Evergreen Line will be beneficial to people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and it is a very necessary expansion of the Skytrain network that's already there. Not only will it provide a quicker link for our residents to other parts of the Metro Vancouver area, but it means that more people will be able to use the public transit network, which means less cars on the road, freeing up space for those of us who need to drive.

Maple Ridge has committed to reduce total community greenhouse gas emissions by 33% by 2020, i.e. from 363.776 as of Dec. 31, 2007, to 326,840 tons per year by the end of 2012, and to 252,968 by 2020. This is an very ambitious goal, especially since Maple Ridge is a growing community. For now, Maple Ridge is for the most part relying on its existing Official Community Plan to realize this very aggressive reduction target.

Pitt Meadows has committed to a more modest 13% reduction by 2017 and has put together a Community Energy & Greenhouse Gas Emissions Plan.

Private automobiles are the single largest source of GHG emissions for both municipalities. That is why a focus on transportation is very important to achieve these reductions.

As to the source of the funding for the Moving Forward Plan, we would urge you to continue working with the provincial government to find additional sources to replace the increase in property taxes. This would be an unfair burden to tax payers in our region, who already contribute more than their fair share to a public transit system that severely underserves them. A proper formula needs to be found to ensure that we have a system that fairly taxes the users, but at the same time reflects whether or not viable options are available for the users in the various communities. Any road pricing or vehicle levy should definitely reflect the fuel-efficiency and size of the car.

We should aim for a system that encourages and rewards people for using public transit, cycling and walking, while discouraging the use of the private automobile, but this will only work if the public transit system serves them well, and cyclists of all ages and abilities are provided with safe, convenient and appealing infrastructure.

Kind regards,

Jackie Chow
Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Chapter
Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition

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