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Metro Vancouver targets truck traffic, port growth

The growth of truck traffic in the Lower Mainland as the port expands is a topic of concern for a new Metro Vancouver committee. - Port Metro Vancouver
The growth of truck traffic in the Lower Mainland as the port expands is a topic of concern for a new Metro Vancouver committee.
— image credit: Port Metro Vancouver

Metro Vancouver's board intends to shine a brighter spotlight on challenges like road congestion and the growing pains from port expansion this year.

A new transportation committee has been created that will be chaired by Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.

Although the regional district has no direct jurisdiction over transportation, Watts said the new committee is an appropriate place to examine issues that have impacts that go beyond the individual authority of TransLink, the provincial transportation ministry, federal government or local cities.

"There isn't one body that's looking at the whole entire system," Watts said. "With the amount of growth that's going to take place, particularly South of the Fraser over the next few years, there has to be some critical thinking in terms of traffic management and the movement of goods through the region."

Most of the effort to brace the region for forecasted port growth has consisted of Ottawa and Victoria negotiating deals to jointly build major Asia Pacific Gateway infrastructure, such as the South Fraser Perimeter Road and Roberts Bank rail corridor upgrades.

But Watts said more must be done to consider the impacts on locals, including the need for public transit, and to try to better align plans of different agencies.

More than 700,000 trucks cross the border each year and a further increase is expected as Port Metro Vancouver aims to further expand Deltaport, Watts said.

"We've got to look at where are these trucks going to go, how do they deliver goods throughout thre region and the province, and is the infrastructure in place to have that capacity?"

There's no provision yet for more truck parking as part of the plan to expand the port, Watts said.

"Now we've got everybody parking on agricultural  land. So if there's an expansion at the port there's got to be something put in place to accommodate truck traffic. And that's not occurring."

The transportation committee replaces Metro's port cities committee, which was originally struck to represent cities in a dispute over port land taxation but has also examined the expected increase in oil tanker traffic from the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

Watts expects it will continue to examine the tanker issue, among others, and seek to collaborate with railways, airports, trucking firms and other agencies influencing regional transportation.

The province's plan to replace the Massey Tunnel is another topic Watts expects will be tackled.

"What does that look like on the impact for the region?" she asked. "Are there better ways and better synergies and things we can work on collectively together?"

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, the committee's vice-chair, said it won't duplicate the work of the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation, which is part of the TransLink governance structure but can only approve or reject significant tax hikes.

"With all due respect to TransLink, they've been scrambling around trying to put buses out there and not making any major analysis of what we've got and what we need," Jackson said.

"TransLink hasn't even begun to look at things like the Massey Tunnel. Why? Because it's not their jurisdiction."

Because Metro is charged with regulating regional growth, Jackson and Watts said the regional district has a vested interest in trying to ensure land use and transportation policies are well-coordinated and don't work against each other.

Other committee members are Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew, Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, Port Coquitlam Coun. Mike Forrest, Area A director Maria Harris, Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs, North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto, North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton and New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright.

Metro board chair Greg Moore, who created the new transportation committee, has also appointed mayors and councillors to serve on other Metro committees for 2013. Most of the appointments are unchanged from last year.

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