Thoughts on the Broadway Line and other developments

With respect to the NO MEGATOWERS AT SAFEWAY campaign and petition..

The information below might point to a couple of different angles of attack and perhaps some useful content for further posters, leafleting or press releases. 

Your petition highlights one of the major problems in the symbiotic relationship between developers and politicians. You note:

 “While we support increased density near a transit hub, …..”

Is this not the driving force behind the Broadway extension? The disruption to hundreds (or thousands?) of small businesses along the route will be catastrophic, but I guess they don’t count despite the lip service paid to them at voting time. 

This proposed line is largely in aid of carrying thousands of students into the maw of the great UBC MBA sausage machine – a once venerable institution that I attended in the sixties. In their future lives, if the worst trauma students encounter is waiting in line for a bus, they should be grateful.

If our frightfully resilient late capitalist society keeps rolling along as is, perhaps building affordable housing for students and the surrounding community on and around that gigantic campus might work better. They can then walk to school, uphill both ways as I did. 

Or, why not create alternative campuses for various disciplines (which SFU has done on a smaller scale) and spread out the population so you don’t have a good number of the 66,000 students heading in the same direction at the same time? Has the learned President of UBC or the politicians or city planners even considered this?

Yes, that would be quite an undertaking, but since the current $2.83 billion tax-payer funded price-tag for the line is sure to more than double (any bets?), why not give this idea a look? I can only guess that if it was considered, it was sniffed at because similar profits to those available under the current plan would not materialize.

There are unsettling parallels with experiences seen on the Canada Line:

The consortium which won the contract for the Broadway line with a $1.728 billion bid is led by a Spanish infrastructure giant and an Italian tunneling company. Their highly educated and trained upper management (and their shareholders) will do very well in running the show with, once again, a handy supply of foreign workers being paid far less than our home-grown men and women.

It is a PPPartnership, where we, the Public will absorb any over-runs and/or shortfalls while they, the Private consortium is guaranteed its profits. 

Or, why not vote in politicians who will listen? I suppose if you think like me that Kennedy Stewart is actually Gregor Robertson in a rubber mask (like in Mission Impossible), that won’t help much either. I’ll save for another time the issue of the co-optation of the city planning department by the developers. 

As many CCAN members are aware from such past fights, once conceived of, and the math done to show how much money is to be made, the projects under discussion have become a fait accompli that all the dog and pony shows of public input can never change – the earlier Grandview Woodlands Citizens Assembly recommendations being a case in point.

Jane Jacobs successfully led a similar battle in New York where her group took on Robert Moses who controlled Long Island State Park Commission, the New York State Council of Parks, the Jones Beach State Park Authority, the Bethpage State Park Authority, the New York City Park Department, the Triborough Bridge Authority and the Marine Parkway Authority, an institutional odd assortment but for lack of serious political opposition becoming a fiefdom from which he destroyed neighbourhoods and livelihoods in aid of building highways through them. 

When she de-camped to Toronto in 1968 with her two draft-aged sons, daughter and husband (her family opposed the Vietnam War) she joined a battle there to stop the Spadina Expressway and they succeeded in saving the neighbourhoods slated for destruction. Those little metal bastards (automobiles) drove the short-sighted reactionary thinking of the day. We have a relatively decent transit system worth protecting and expanding. Let us imagine and fight for means of doing so which don’t attack the very neighbourhoods they were built to serve.

Could we then all be invested in a vibrant, affordable, community life, lived in attractive neighbourhoods where some of your grandparents raised up the homes you still live in? Perhaps – if our current transit and urban planning gurus had enough vision to facilitate growth with that in mind rather than developers’ profits.

So, keep up the good fight. The alternative is to silently acquiesce to the predations of the developer class and their political minions – the lot of them greedy, short-sighted Philistines and hacks who see neighbourhoods simply as zones to be exploited and not living entities peopled by the very citizens they were elected to represent. 

In the meantime stay safe and well,

Brian Waite CCAN

About leechap

A Community Sympathiser
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1 Response to Thoughts on the Broadway Line and other developments

  1. gnr says:

    My thoughts on the transit system are to have people start work and school at different times so the system will be less crowded at ‘rush hour’ — keep the system we have and adjust the peoples use of it. We should not spend billions of tax dollars on an in-place – one location transit system to promote development. The transit system should be fluid to move to where the development might occur. On the development at Commercial and Broadway the project should be the height and density as outlined in the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan; not 346 feet as proposed. This Plan took years to complete and The City is throwing it out to satisfy the developer’s need for GREED. Of course this is the pattern of The City Planning Department, nothing new here.

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