MSRA extraordinary meeting held to discuss United Boulevard Extension

Voice has received a copy of the McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association (MSRA) letter to Mayor and Council regarding the United Boulevard Extension (UBE).

We want to commend the MSRA for articulating many of the same points raised by Voice in relation to the UBE.

MSRA President Geoff Pinkerton has kindly given us permission to post the letter below for the benefit of our readers.

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From: Geoff Pinkerton
Date: Dec 6, 2010
Subject: Summary of 1 Dec 2010 MSRA meeting regarding the United Boulevard Extension
To: postmaster@newwestcity.ca

Mayor and Council,

The McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association held an extraordinary meeting at 7:00pm on 1 Dec 2010 at the Sapperton Pensioner’s Hall regarding the United Boulevard Extension portion of the North Fraser Perimeter Road project.

The McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association has been following this issue for many years and has many concerns about the project and its impact upon the livability of Sapperton and in fact upon the City as a whole.

The purpose of the meeting was to gauge public support for, or opposition to, Tranlink’s four proposals regarding the United Boulevard Extension.

The meeting was attended by approximately 90 members of the public, including three members of Council (Councillors Osterman, McEvoy and Harper), and two members of City Staff (Jim Lowrie and Eugene Wat).

The format of the meeting to was as follows:

1. Introduction of the MRSA

2. Review of the history of the project

3. Review of the Tranlink slides showing the four proposals

4. Public discussion

5. Motion

The merits and problems associated with the four options were discussed and debated. A fifth option (Option E) was also discussed. This fifth option included discussion on a wide range of things such as deferring the project and instead focusing on removing traffic from the road network, further upgrades to the freeway and forgoing the United Boulevard Extension as it essentially parallels the freeway, looking at alternative connection points from Brunette to United Boulevard (closer to the Brunette/freeway interchange, building a road along the waterfront from Front Street), etc.

A number of issues were brought up during the open discussion portion of the meeting. Concerns were raised about a substantial increase in the amount of truck traffic through New Westminster, the fact that a three story overpass structure (Option A) will have huge visual and noise impacts on residents, the negative impact on property values and the negative impact on air quality, and that this project will “uglify the neighbourhood”. It was clarified that Translink cannot proceed with this project unless it has approval from New Westminster.

From a budgeting perspective, it was noted that the North Fraser Perimeter Road project was budgeted at $55 Million in 2000, rose to $130 Million in 2007, and now stands at around $175 Million for a portion of the work. It was explained at the meeting that Tranlink’s plan regarding the tunnel portion from East Columbia Street to Front Street, is that it would no longer be part of this work and would instead be done when the Pattullo Bridge replacement is completed. It is not clear if and when the Pattullo Bridge project will go ahead. As such, there is a fear that the tunnel portion would not proceed in any immediate timeframe and the completion of the United Boulevard Extension would simply shift the traffic problems from Braid Street to East Columbia Street.

Some area residents are resigned to the fact that this project must be completed and that “doing nothing is not an option”. These opinions were the minority and in fact the majority of the people at the meeting felt that the negative impacts of the project far outweighed any benefits. The overwhelming opinion at the meeting was that this project cannot be looked at piecemeal and that the entire North Fraser Perimeter Road project needs to be looked at as a comprehensive plan. The completion of the United Boulevard Extension portion of the project will only shift the traffic problems elsewhere in the City and negatively impact other neighbourhoods or the downtown core.

We called for a show of hands regarding the four options. Of the 90 people present, none favoured Options A, C or D. Nine people favoured Option B as it would keep traffic flowing more smoothly. The remainder favoured a further option, Option E, which would be to defer the project until the entire North Fraser Perimeter Road project can be dealt with as a comprehensive project. It was very interesting to note, and it appeared to be a surprise to the members of Council present, that there was no support for Option A, the only option favoured by New Westminster City Council.

After the show of hands, the following motion was presented and passed:
“That the MSRA opposes all Options A through D and requests that Translink defer the United Boulevard Extension portion of the North Fraser Perimeter Road project until the entire North Fraser Perimeter Road project is dealt with as a complete and comprehensive plan.”

The MSRA requests that the City defer any agreement with Translink to proceed with the United Boulevard Extension portion of the North Fraser Perimeter Road project until the entire North Fraser Perimeter Road project plan is presented in a complete and comprehensive way. We also request that all conditions from New Westminster City Council’s 5 Feb 2007 resolution regarding this issue are met prior to an agreement being signed, including an agreement that the tunnel portion from East Columbia to Front street would be included as part of the plan.

The McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association also requests that the City sponsor a workshop in which the entire North Fraser Perimeter Road project can be discussed and the impact of piecemeal projects such as the United Boulevard Extension upon the whole city can be analyzed. Additionally, the McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association would like to have other issues/projects that will have a substantial impact on traffic and livability in the Sapperton area of the City be presented at this meeting. These issues include items such as Port Metro Vancouver’s ownership of the Canfor Lands and the continuing discussion of an incinerator in our community.

Regards,

Geoff Pinkerton
President
McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association