Threats Help Nobody, Port Moody Council

Port Moody Council wants to close local streets to outside traffic

Confession: while Jon and I created, we don’t actually live in the V3H. We actually live in Coquitlam, less than a kilometer from the Port Moody border, not far from Eagle Ridge Hospital. Jon chose the name “The V3H” because we work, shop, play and volunteer in Port Moody, and also because he liked the neighbourhood vibe in Port Moody. In fact, he operated a business located in Port Moody for some time, helping to contribute to the city’s economy.

Like many Tri-Cities residents, we chose to buy our home primarily based on its size and affordability, and a manageable work commute. We looked at homes in Port Moody and Port Coquitlam, but things just happened to work out in such a way that we live in Coquitlam. I personally have lived in Port Moody in the past, and I could see living there again if I chose to move and I found the right home in that community. Basically, what I’m saying is that I did not buy a home in Coquitlam in order to stick it to Port Moody. In fact, I would be surprised if anyone bought a home in Coquitlam in order to stick it to Port Moody.

This may surprise Port Moody Council, who have recently revived their efforts to make it difficult for people like me to drive on Port Moody’s streets. Last Friday there were stories in both the Tri-City News and the Coquitlam NOW outlining Port Moody’s request to remove Murray and Clarke streets and its portion of Guildford Way from TransLink’s control. Council almost unanimously – Diana Dilworth was the lone dissenting voice – passed a motion to reclaim its streets from the region following TransLinks’ most recent rejection of the Murray-Clarke connector.

I read the articles in the local papers twice, just to be sure I understood what they were saying. Both of them included a particularly choice quote from Councillor Karen Rockwell, which I cannot resist the urge to re-print myself. Here is what she said, according to the NOW:

“If that means that the 30,000 residents that have moved in up at Burke Mountain have to go around the Lougheed Highway or they have to go up Mariner and along Como Lake, then oh well. Not my problem.”

That’s fairly inflammatory stuff.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus as to what will happen to the sections of road in question, other than vague suggestions that people who don’t happen to live in Port Moody may “want to avoid it” in the future, or that they won’t be able to use it.

Now, as someone who has commuted along both the Murray-Clarke corridor and the St. John’s corridor, I am well aware of the problem. I am highly disappointed that TransLink does not seem to give a flying fig about those of us who live in the Northeast sector. I am also disappointed that the Evergreen Line and the Murray-Clarke connector will not be built at the same time, because it seems to me that if crews are going to do major roadwork, disturbing stream beds and cutting down trees and the like, that consolidating efforts would minimize the environmental impact. In short, I am pretty cheesed off at TransLink, too.

But having said that, I am even more perturbed by the threats and inflammatory language used by Port Moody Councillors like Rockwell. I am also completely confused about what, exactly, they are proposing to do with the Murray-Clarke corridor. It seems to me that the Port Moody residents who use that section of road to travel into Coquitlam would not want to have to face traffic delaying measures any more than I would. And, let’s face it, Port Moody residents visit Coquitlam often, to swim in our indoor swimming pools, attend Douglas College, shop at Coquitlam Centre, buy lumber for their home improvement projects, or see a movie. I can also imagine that many Port Moody residents would be equally annoyed if measures to close the Murray-Clarke corridor led to a parking lot on St. John’s.

I also have to wonder what Port Moody businesses think about this proposal. I currently visit the Newport Village And Suter Brook developments frequently, in order to shop. If Port Moody’s streets were somehow closed to me, I would remain in Coquitlam to spend my money. I am certainly not the only one who would stop shopping in Port Moody if I couldn’t easily navigate its roadways, and I am sure many businesses would fear a decline in business from patrons who happen not to live in Port Moody, proper. And what of people seeking medical care at Eagle Ridge Hospital? What options would people trying to rush to their local hospital be left with when traffic is at a standstill and they can’t access it from Guildford?

Perhaps the threats and words from Port Moody Council are just a ploy to gain attention and make a point. If so, I am appalled by the immaturity being displayed. Idle threats don’t get anyone anywhere, and I would frankly expect better from elected representatives.

As a Coquitlam resident I would love to see the Murray-Clarke connector completed, I would like to call on my own city’s Council to use their voice in favour of better transportation through Port Moody. I would also like to call on Port Moody Council to work cooperatively with its neighbours. Why should I be penalized for a decision that TransLink makes that I personally disagree with? Is it fair that other Tri-Cities residents should pay the price? I would argue that it is not. So rather than threatening us, why don’t you tell us what we can do to add our voices to the call for Murray-Clarke? Who should we write to, and what should we say? How can we work together to improve the Tri-Cities as a whole?

In short, let’s be grown-ups, instead of behaving like children who didn’t get our way.

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  1. Diana Dilworth says:

    Thanks Amber for publicly sharing your comments. I would encourage residents from the V3H area and Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam to share their comments with PoMo Council

    As the dissenting vote I was hoping that Council would step back and begin a public consultation process that would discuss all options, not just the one to “take back” the road. There was an interesting option to consider creating one-way traffic flows during peak hours for example. It has taken 20years to get to this point in decision making on the Murray corridor, I think our public deserve better than a decision made after a 20 minute public discussion at Council meeting.

    Other members of Council will argue that there will still be public consultation but I note that discussion will be on what to do with our local road and not considering any regional responsibilities or respect to commuters from outside Port Moody.

  2. Shirley Weir says:

    Way to go Amber. I kind of hope you’re right when you say it’s a ploy to gain attention for the topic, but really, is that the strategic approach we have amongst our elected officials? I’m annoyed that all the new developments ie Newport, Suterbrrok and along Murray Street were allowed to go ahead in the absence of a Murray Street connector/traffic flow plan. What year is this?

    • Shirley, those developments at Newport, Klahanie, and Suterbrook were built in anticipation of rapid transit and the MCC being built. The regional growth strategy and translink plans said, no actually DEMANDED, “increase your density in compact urban centres and we will provide the transportation infrastructure to service them”. In fact those plans set population targets that the City of Port Moody challenged in 1996 as being too high, to which Metro Vancouver countered at the time – RTP 2000 will bring skytrain to Port Moody in 5 years ! They never delivered. Then.. or now. It wasn’t the absence of a plan, it was the lack of delivery on the promises.

  3. Amber,

    The problem with Murray Street being a regional MRN road is that we have no control over what is done with the road, and the regional authority, Translink says ‘NOTHING. IT’S FINE’. Translink has now confirmed in their report, that they feel everything is just fine in the corridor and no improvements are needed. If you believe that, the owners of the businesses on Murray Street that are considering leaving, or have left, might offer an alternate opinion. The residents of Moody Centre, who have seen their once vibrant and quaint historic downtown core turned into a 7 lane thoroughfare, probably would also beg to differ. We would ALL counter the claims that Port Moody is not being ‘neighbourly’ in our accommodation of regional traffic – over 65% of the traffic in this corridor originates and terminates OUTSIDE of Port Moody. Signals have been timed to FAVOUR non-Port Moody traffic. The city has spent MILLIONS of dollars to accommodate regional traffic. And now, for the relatively MINOR investment required by Translink to complete a project from the 1980’s , we are told Translink does not see the project as a necessity.

    We are talking about adapting to this REALITY – it’s not a threat or a guess or anything other than that – the regional authority is not recognizing this corridor as important, is not proceeding with the upgrades it has acknowledged as necessary up to 25 years ago, so we need to get on with making our community the best that it can be. For years the conversation has been ‘when the mcc gets built’. We now are told , definitively, it will NOT be.

    As I stated at the council meeting, the benefit to the motion that was passed by council, to initiate discussions with Translink on returning the road to Port Moody control, is it opens the conversation – and it’s a conversation that should take place in public, and involve the neighbouring communties and stakeholders.

    I am not an advocate of a ‘not my problem’ policy – it is, as you say, a problem that affects us ALL.

    The conversation has to start with ‘STATUS QUO IS NOT WORKING’, which is what the council resolution allows us to do. If you do not enter the discussion prepared to make changes , Translink will gladly leave things the way they are, they have confirmed that in their report, they have confirmed this through 25 years of inaction.

    Personally, and the direction i get from our residents is, +/- 25 years of being on the wrong end of a bad joke is probably about enough.

    Maybe when enough Coquitlam residents become aware of the facts of this project, rather than BLAMING Port Moody for being the town they sit in for 30 minutes every day in their car getting pissed off about traffic congestion, they will understand the impact this has on OUR community and what we have tried to do to make EVERYONE’s life better. Maybe this will bring others to the conversation.

    Maybe you can use the influence of theV3H to EDUCATE the public in the region on the history of the connector and invite THEM to advocate to help this project see completion ? The city website is full of information on this project, as is my personal website.

    Maybe, if we can actually have the dialogue, we will find that this project ISN’T what is needed or some revision is needed…? Maybe we can find out what Translink’s idea is about where all these people should be driving ?

    Your question : Should other Tri Cities residents pay the price ? If you mean financially, of course they should – it’s a regional road network. I’m quite enjoying my tax dollars being spend on CMO, David Avenue, Pitt River Bridge, and even the nice planters in the middle of Lougheed Hwy in Coquitlam ! My tax dollars are going to good projects everywhere, except in my home community ?! I can even enjoy the newly paved EAST ROAD from Port Moody to Buntzen Lake that I helped pay for, although that also just draws more people THROUGH Port Moody from neighbouring municipalities !

    If you are asking if you should have to pay the ‘social’ price of being held up in congestion as you try to make your way home.. ask a Port Moody resident how they feel about sitting behind you and 30,000 of your neighbours ! Ask us how we feel about putting our OCP and future visioning on hold while we await delivery of long time promised infrastructure, while Coquitlam, PoCo and municipalities to the east continue to add population, and taxpayers, with their automobiles using this corridor EVERY DAY – nice to take the tax lift without having to provide any infrastructure !? Ask us how much pride we have in the historic Old Town city core watching business after business fail because they are nothing more than an inconvenience to those ‘passing through’. Or how we feel every time we decide that its not worth it to try to walk in our community as it is too dangerous, particularly trying to cross the busy corridor streets.

    YOUR Coquitlam council was called on to support the Murray Clarke in recognition of the fact that it carries tens of thousands of Coqutilam commuters each day. Did they ? You should ask them what they have done to get this regional infrastructure built, to help improve the lives of Coquitlam, and NE Sector residents ? They have been quite vocal on the UBE…but not on the MCC. Don’t get me wrong, I have all the respect in the world for the other council’s, councillors and mayors, in our region, and really appreciate the Coquitlam comments on the Regional Growth Strategy – but, this isn’t a Port Moody ONLY issue, and so far, they are portraying it as such.

    What can you do to get it built ?

    Ask your council to support YOU, as we have, and demand the connector completion, which we have been doing for the last 6 years I have been on council, and, I’m sure, longer.

    Ask your council why they continue to add population at Town Centre and on Burke Mountain without any commitment that the transportation network these people require is coming ?

    Ask Translink why they are turning their back on YOU, a regional road network user.

    Ask Translink what THEIR suggestion is if they do not believe the Murray Clarke is needed ! Translink is the Regional Transportation Authority, they have the funding, they have the mandate, and they have MILLIONS of dollars of highly skilled professionals on their payroll to work on regional transportation issues – at some point I would expect they would be doing THEIR job, not just turning their back on the 200,000+ residents served on our corridor.

    Who should you write to and what should you say ? If I had that answer, we wouldn’t be having this conversation – i’ve written to , met with , and said everything I can think of for the last six years and none of it seems to matter. I have met with MLA’s, MP’s and two transportation ministers on this subject. I have written to them all as well. I have lobbied Translink director’s on the former board and appeared as a delegation. I have made the case of the connector, at every turn – even though I personally don’t believe it is a good thing for our community ! It’s been 6 years, and i find it frustrating .. i’m not giving up , but , it’s frustrating.. clearly we need to find another idea.

    Maybe after 20 years or so of trying you will also be behaving ‘like children who didn’t get our way’ … but until you have experienced at least two decades of broken promises, if not outright lies, and made long term plans and shaped your community around projects that are then taken off the table (aka: had the rug pulled out from under you), that’s probably not a fair comment for you to make.

    While I do not agree with the comments made by some members of Port Moody council or ANY ideas of shutting down roads (at this point), I certainly understand where they are coming from. There is an answer here, that name calling , threats and posturing is not going to uncover, but it’s hard to negotiate anything when there is only one party at the table.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      Just to clarify, my comment about behaving like children is not directed at Port Moody Council because you want to change the way your roads are managed. The comment derived directly from the inflammatory language used by Councillor Rockwell, and the veiled threats to bar Coquitlam traffic from Port Moody streets that came from the articles in the Tri-City News and the Coquitlam NOW.

      For the record, while I did commute through Port Moody for many years, I currently work from home. I do, however, buy all of my groceries in Port Moody, frequent restaurants in Port Moody, and so on. I have also raced my children to Eagle Ridge Hospital on more than one occasion. It is my fear that actions would be taken that would not allow me to travel freely in Port Moody that prompted this post. I can only imagine that if any members of Coquitlam council inferred that Port Moody residents not be allowed to drive into Coquitlam that my neighbours in Port Moody would be alarmed, as well. And I would be alarmed on their behalf.

      I absolutely understand that my tax dollars will be used for regional transportation, as they should be. However, I don’t think that I should personally be paying the social price for actions that are totally outside of my personal control, and that I personally disagree with. I am on your side when it comes to the Murray-Clarke connector, which should have been built decades ago, but frankly, comments like those from Councillors Rockwell and Elliot don’t exactly fill me with confidence. I’m sure that you can understand why.

  4. I haven’t got a deep understanding of the politics at play, but on the face of it I support this decision. Mike Clay got it right up above: the Murray-Clarke connector is a bad joke on the current users, as illustrated by this 2006 video (which is pretty typical of rush hour) of a cyclist riding alongside the long line of cars on Clarke-Murray:

    Translink has had control of that route since 1996, and now they’re not going to change it? That’s their call, but combined with the perpetual postponement* of the Evergreen Line, the current attitude of Translink towards Port Moody (and Coquitlam) seems to have transitioned from casual neglect to outright abuse.

    I say this as a decade-long resident of Port Moody who, ironically, is hardly affected by these traffic problems, because I am lucky enough to have a commute that I do mostly by bicycle, and which doesn’t take me along this route.

    Port Moody played the good neighbor here for many years: ceding control of the Murray-Clarke corridor, buying into the idea of high-density development, and even (at the civic and the civilian level) mostly supporting a Skytrain line through town (if PoMo didn’t support it so much, the Evergreen Line would likely pass through the southern part of Coquitlam). The result was that neither expansion happened, and no major upgrades since Barnet and the West Coast Express.

    If Port Moody is a bit sick of being a gateway to Coquitlam, who can blame them? St. John’s and Clarke are two roads that could be lovely places to walk and shop in the community (the buildings are there, the zoning is there, even the tenants are there) and instead they’re twice daily commuter chutes, and Clarke is not well-designed for the role!** I think a few sour grapes are in order.

    *I know, they’re working on a funding plan, and it’s a high priority, but I’ve been fooled too often. I’ll believe Evergreen is being built when I see them start digging.

    **It’s against my own interests, in terms of ease of access to the road, but if I ran the zoo, the T-intersection at Moody and Clarke would have its south side blocked off, and the traffic lights removed. The result would be continuous traffic flow in two directions, and the only delay would be the physics of the rather tight 90-degree turn itself. It’s possible the traffic engineers have contemplated this, and decided that it would only push the traffic problem upstream or downstream, but this appears to be a big gain in traffic flow in exchange for a tiny impediment to access.

    • I’m curious. I agree that St. John’s and Clarke could be lovely places to walk and shop, but if Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam residents are avoiding the area because they cannot easily access it, then who will walk and shop there? Port Moody’s population is approximately 30,000, while Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam clock in at about 180,000, combined. I think that the businesses in downtown Port Moody depend on other Tri-Cities residents passing through the city.

      As I said above, I don’t commute, I work from home. But I do visit Port Moody as a shopping destination on a regular basis. Do you think I should be barred from traveling along my usual routes to do so? And if I am barred, would you blame me if I just visited Coquitlam Centre instead of Port Moody?

      Take back control of the road from TransLink, I totally understand why. It’s the idea that I won’t be able to access the businesses and services that I enjoy in Port Moody, and that the next time my 2-year-old chokes on a marble I won’t be able to make it to the hospital easily, that I strongly disagree with.

      • Ironically, the streets you would use to get from Coquitlam to to Eagle Ridge Hospital or to the shopping areas (I’m guessing the Ioco-and-Guildford areas) aren’t affected by this, as far as I can tell.

        Indeed, my concern and that (I think) of Councillor Rockwell is that St. John’s and Murray-Clarke (west of Ioco) barely serve Port Moody residents, and don’t serve the businesses on those routes at all. I don’t see lot of stopping off on the way home at the various businesses on those routes: I see alternating patterns of long lines of cars trying to drive through, and fast traffic using those roads as commute-chutes to someplace else (certainly not Mulino’s, or Rosa’s, or Joker Pizza, or any of the other shops on those routes).

        As a positive example, consider New Westminster’s reconstruction of downtown Columbia Street. That road used to be 2 lanes each way of optimized commuter chute for passing through. It was a sleazy mess. Like Port Moody, the surrounding area has seen a substantial density bump. But New West took Columbia and effectively narrowed it to 1 lane each way (the extra space was turned into bike lanes and angle parking) and set the speed limit at 30 km/h. Coincidence or not, the street is a revitalized shopping district, and a lot nicer place to hang out. The merchants seem to be more accessible (and accessed) than ever, but it’s not a road for passing through.

        It is easy to imagine a similar fate for St. John’s Street. It’s even easier to imagine it for Clarke. (Murray street? Not so much.) I’d bet money the result would be a major improvement for the businesses in that area, a definite improvement in the attractiveness of the neighborhood, and I would commend the West Coast Express and 97B to everyone else.

        • The Guildford stretch isn’t affected by undue volume, but Port Moody Council wants to reclaim the Port Moody section of Guildford along with Murray and Clarke. If they were to take measures to discourage or bar traffic from Coquitlam, it would need to start at the border between Falcon and Ioco, just about half a block from Eagle Ridge Hospital and any access to Newport Village or Suter Brook. I live not far from Guildford and Falcon just inside Coquitlam, which is why I, personally, would be directly affected by any traffic changes in that neighbourhood. Coquitlam residents in areas undergoing current development, on the other hand, would have more options to by-pass Murray-Clarke and St. John’s. This means those of us living in 30 year old houses would pay the social price for people moving on to Burke Mountain, who also drive through my neighbourhood and lead to volume for me, too.

          • I think you’re misapprehending the goal. I believe the entire corridor is the piece they ceded to Translink (and Translink would have little or need to manage Guildford if they weren’t connecting it through Murray-Clarke).

            I doubt the goal is to actively block Coquitlam traffic. We’re not talking jersey barriers at the border or something. I assume the goal is to transform the Murray-Clarke section so that it is focused on the needs of local businesses and residents (more street parking, “calmer” streets, again, the Columbia Street model in NW is very illuminating). This idea of mine would make the street’s utility as a commute corridor lower (think half the rush-hour capacity).

            The point, ultimately, is that Translink had the corridor and did nothing with it. At present it serves commuters poorly and local residents poorly. It can be made to do at least one of those jobs well, and since Translink is putting no money into the project, Port Moody is likely to focus on the needs of the residents.

          • I hope I am misapprehending it. It’s the comments that display blatant anger and make veiled threats towards Coquitlam residents that I find offensive. I believe that a solution needs to be found, but I also believe the best solution involves cooperation, rather than statements like this one from the Tri-City News:

            “Coquitlam commuters and others who travel through the city on their daily commute, may want to avoid it in the future.”

            The reality is that Port Moody benefits from its proximity to larger communities with more amenities. So let’s find a way to make the relationship mutually agreeable, rather than antagonistic.


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