Monday, 6 August 2012

Public meetings

I went to a public meeting years ago. It was about how to move the bus loop from the Lost Lagoon area of Stanley Park, because the buses had to turn left across bridge traffic coming from Lions Gate and the North Shore. In rush hour traffic this was almost impossible. So they were looking for ideas and input. Or so I thought.

the existing route
This was their proposed plan. They would run the trolly buses west on Georgia and instead of turning left across rush hour traffic to the present loop (at that time) beside Lost Lagoon, they would instead go into Stanley Park, beside the old pedestrian overpass and park along Pipeline Road. Then to return would have to go beneath the causeway overpass to go along beside Lost Lagoon and enter the causeway traffic onto Georgia Street at Chilco to head East.

This plan seemed to me to be very expensive, as so much work would have to be done to allow trolleys to make the entrance and exit. And also drivers would have to take their breaks at night within Stanley Park.

I came up with a plan that I thought solved all the problems. I drew up street maps to show how it would work on large white boards. This was my proposed plan:
Have the buses take the right lane just as soon as they pass the junction where Pender merges with Georgia Street, and crosses Cardero. Then they would turn right, from Georgia onto Denman, causing literally no traffic slow down in rush hour. There is an existing small parking area there for yacht clubs but would only take a little more space for a bus turnaround. No interference with traffic at all.

my bus route proposal
And the best part is exiting. The bus would proceed south on Denman and make a left turn with the traffic light onto Georgia again to go East. As 99% of all the traffic coming north on Denman is turning left onto Georgia to head for the Lions Gate Bridge, there would be no traffic tension at all! Any right turns off Denman would have no effect on buses.

The cost of doing this change would be to take a little more space from the existing grass area and perhaps the yacht parking lot to build the turn-around loop. A few poles for trolley wires, some new pavement and that's it! And people intending to go into Stanley Park would exit right onto the Seawall! And it was only yards away from the planned loop.

I presented this plan to all concerned at a meeting in the Denman Auditorium. The room was crowded and after I had finished, almost everyone who heard it agreed that it was an excellent and smooth way to go without causing an expensive taxpayer outlay.

As the meeting concluded, the city engineers in charge decided to recap what they heard at the meeting. They said they heard that everyone liked the ideas of the city to have the buses go into Stanley Park. The crowd roared their disagreement. Mostly stunned at such a conclusion. Many people asked how they could have heard that when their proposal had been booed at the time! Many people were members of Friends of Stanley Park and had paid close attention. So the panel simply thanked us and left.

A few years later they rebuilt the the whole causeway overpass to allow the installation of trolley wires and height for the large buses to get under.  It was opened in 2003 and I have no idea how much it cost.

The point of all this is to suggest that public hearings are nothing more than public relations exercises that have little purpose and NO effect on the pre-embedded plans that corporations want to do. And they know that they can say whatever they like afterward without contradiction. I am not saying my plan was the ultimate, other speakers had other ideas. I am saying that they just didn't care what people thought. It was a predetermined 'go ahead' long before any public input was called for.

Keep this in mind if you attend any public hearings on the Enbridge or Kinder-Morgan pipeline proposals.

(pics from Google Earth, click to enlarge)

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Keep it civil, folks, I know you're angry but try not to swear too much.