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Notes from the first Sapperton/United Boulevard workshop, Sat Mar 12, 2011

Here’s a quick update via our public consultation team, about the first Sapperton/United Boulevard workshop, held on Saturday, March 12, 2011.

More than 60 people attended, including many residents from the Sapperton area. As we talked about before, Gary Andrishak from IBI Group facilitated the session and started it off with a brief presentation (see the presentation here).

People then separated into small groups to discuss their community values and transportation concerns. (The groups were kept small to give everyone a chance to have a say!) They rolled up their sleeves and got down to business, describing on maps the things that mean the most to them in their communities, and what they would like to see fixed.

Here’s a summary of the key things we heard (full details are in the meeting minutes, which will be available soon are available here):

  • A sense of community pride and livability
  • Emphasis on connectivity, walkability, cycle-friendliness and crossings over Brunette
  • Need for river trails and traffic calming were expressed time after time
  • Need to reduce air pollution, congestion, noise, rat running and other issues associated with traffic.

We also heard questions about why the United Boulevard Extension is needed in the first place.

And from the feedback, most people rated the session pretty high and that is very important for working together through this process.

In preparation for the next workshop on Wednesday March 16, 2011, 6:30 p.m. at the Pensioners Hall, participants were asked to get out and take a walk around your community—you can do this too, even if you didn’t attend the first workshop!

You can submit your pictures and ideas via Flickr (, showing what you think should be done to address the transportation issues in your community, or simply bring your ideas along to the meeting on Wednesday, and we’ll help to display them.

Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday to take part in the first workshop!


  • By resident observer, March 15, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

    A couple of comments on the presentation:

    Slide 2: If “what are we not talking about?” included the remainder of the North Fraser Perimeter Road and the Pattullo Bridge replacement, then this process is too narrow in scope. Any action here will, at best, displace the truck and traffic problem to elsewhere in New Westminster. Why would New Westminster agree to a ‘solution’ that just causes another problem?

    Slide 5: you cannot have more truck movements and improved active transportation connectivity and transit access without more land. What is the plan for acquiring more land? Also, perhaps you did not have enough space on the slide, but it is incomplete to say that the Gateway program comes from the Provincial Government. The Greater Vancouver Gateway Council lobbied for it for years. They eventually convinced the Federal (and Provincial) Government to fund parts of it, including, specifically the North Fraser Perimeter Road of which the United Boulevard Extension is a part.

    Slide 15 is misleading: same road, different aspect and, it appears, different location. Are you proposing that you will provide direct access to Sapperton Station from Brunette Ave?

    Slide 17&18: Yes, we need improved goods movement. Port Metro Vancouver bought the Canfor site near here a few years back. Let them use this opportunity to show that they can be leaders in environmentally and community sensitive goods movement by making this site work with barges and rail, and with road access only to the existing United Boulevard. The more you think about it, Brunette/Spruce street-level access to Sapperton Station, as a way of getting people to work actually starts to make sense.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, March 16, 2011 @ 9:04 am

    Thanks: I’ll pass this on to the consultation team!

  • By Matt, March 16, 2011 @ 9:51 am

    I must agree with the comment on slide 15, that is very misleading. If you head to Richmond, the west side of No. 3 Road (as depicted in the before photo) is still just as ugly and pedestrian unfriendly as it was pre-Canada Line. With the rail line snug up against one side of Brunette, I agree with the previous comment, what exactly is being proposed by this image?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, March 17, 2011 @ 9:20 am

    resident observer, Matt: I passed this on to the project team and here’s the response.

    TransLink is planning the UBE in a manner that is integrated with the overall North Fraser Perimeter Road, and other transportation network improvements such as the Pattullo Bridge. The upstream and downstream implications of the UBE on the rest of the network are a key consideration in the development of solution concepts that will be presented in April. While there may not be funding to build all of NFPR at once, the UBE is part of the NFPR and is being planned to work with the rest of the transportation system, both in the interim and long term.

    The intent of showing the before/after picture on No. 3 Road is to show an example of how an infrastructure project can yield benefits to the community. Each project will of course be different, but major projects represent opportunities to enhance active transportation options and related amenities in the surrounding community.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, March 17, 2011 @ 9:46 am

    PS: The meeting minutes are now up! I’ve linked to them in the original post, or you can check them out here.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, March 17, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

    Is there anything that will be forced on the communities? Can the communities veto parts of the NFPR? Can the communities require that goods be transported by rail, through New Westminster?

    I’m embarrassed to ask, but I can’t help but hope.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, March 18, 2011 @ 10:01 am

    Eugene: The project team saw your question and they’ve stressed to me that community input and participation is vital to help us find workable solutions. The exact goal of the current planning process is as follows:

    By working together, our goal is to identify a workable and creative solution to United Boulevard Extension (UBE) that is sensitive to community values, enhances the community where possible, and fits into the ultimate transportation system. To be a success, the UBE will have an agreeable outcome for residents and businesses of new Westminster and Coquitlam and TransLink.

    So, the voice of the community is therefore a vitally important part of the UBE planning process. We are committed to working hard to make sure your voices are heard and are a key part of the solutions generated!

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, March 18, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

    Hi Jhenifer. I appreciate the effort of you and the project team. I also believe that there is a positive attitude among the community, because you have cultivated it from the beginning. Good job.

    I don’t understand what you mean by “vital”. Will the project team still be allowed to push a road expansion through, without the approval of the community? I assume so. So, I wonder how community disapproval could possibly affect the project team. I’m trying to be reasonable, but I’m also going to be frank. I suspect that they just don’t get to brag as much. I think that at the end of the project, they’ll say, “We provided a great new expanded opportunity for goods and services. Transit can use the new road, as well.”. On the other hand, if they get the community’s approval, then they’ll say, “Based on the community’s suggestions, we provided a great new expanded opportunity for goods and services. Transit can use the new road, as well.”. I trust that they will try to accommodate the desires of the community, but I also trust that they will build the road, no matter what.

    I found it interesting that they mentioned something about residents living 2 blocks away. Well, the community is going to have walkable streets, 2 blocks away, whether the roads are expanded or not. The community will start driving more, now that they are hampered by the increased traffic. If I understand the road project, then the road expansion will not touch the community 2 blocks away.

    Don’t get me wrong. If the residents need to move, then I’m okay with that. Moving *some* residents is fine. That’s part of creating a great city. However the cities and Translink have shown that there is no line in the sand: Alex Fraser Bridge, Richmond Connector, Richmond Connector upgrade, Fraser Hwy expansion, South Fraser Perimeter Road; Golden Ears Bridge. The bridge is understandable, though.

    I just find it hard to believe that this proposed system can be created, without building new roads, when Translink already has funding for new roads, but no new funding for rail.

    I can’t help but question Translink and the project team, because I myself have spent countless hours researching ideas by riding on buses just for research purposes, counting up ridership, and asking riders if they like my route realignment suggestion, only to have Translink say, “That’s great. We won’t use your idea, because the route isn’t big enough, and we don’t know if you made up those numbers yourself. We have another plan. We’ll stick your letter and diagrams in a folder, so that the next time we review that route, then we can see it.”.

    I must hand it to the project team and Translink, though. In my 17 years of semi-paying-attention, this is the first time that I noticed anybody consulting the community about a *road* project. I would be very impressed if this works out.

    As bitter as I am, I do want to thank you for your help. Thanks.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, March 18, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

    I just looked over the minutes. I think that they are concerned about the trains and industrial lands.

    I understand that they would be concerned about factories and manufacturing, both of which might stink, but I think that they need to be educated on the idea that if industrial lands are put too far away from local businesses, then that means more truck traffic. I was told that there were such things as clean industries. Maybe we need to be taught about those more.

    I also understand that they would be concerned about rail, but I think that they need to be educated on this also. We seem to have this love-hate relationship with trains: warm feelings of nostalgia; high tech passenger rail; freight trains need to get out of our neighbourhoods. I think that what we need is a fear-love relationship: “I need to keep my distance”; “freight trains bring goods to us”; warm feelings of nostalgia.

    3 things give me that love-hate impression.

    When I took a tour of the SkyTrain garage, the guide told us a story of a lady who tried to kill herself by lying down on the tracks. She expected to die quickly and peacefully. He said that that doesn’t happen, because of all the metal bits that stick out along the way. He said that it would be like being put in a blender slowly. She obviously had a conception that the trains were dangerous, but the wrong kind of dangerous.

    Another example is the story of a couple of young people walking along the tracks in Surrey or White Rock. They heard the toot, so the got off the tracks, and then looked down the tracks. When they didn’t see anything, they got back on. Only the girl escaped death, when they realized that the train was coming from behind. No doubt, she blames the train for not stopping.

    A third example is similar to the previous example: people constantly walk on train tracks, because they like it.

    So, we can see that people have unrealistic expectations of trains. They expect trains to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the moment, and judging by the comments, they obviously don’t seem to have much appreciation.

    I partially blame the government, and I partially blame the rail companies. If the companies would still carry passengers with the freight, then I think that people would appreciate the trains a bit more, since the trains would be a closer part of their lives. If trains always had the right of way, when they are cleared to use the tracks, and if they were not allowed to stop in the event of most accidents, then people might begin to realize that trains are dangerous.

    Maybe I’m going nuts. I’d love to read what other people think about this.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Reminder: second Sapperton/United Boulevard hands-on workshop, Wed Mar 16, 2011 — March 17, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

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