Pattullo rally to include groups from both sides of the river

Pattullo Bridge - NewsLeader file photo
Pattullo Bridge
— image credit: NewsLeader file photo

A family friendly rally has been organized for Saturday in New Westminster to respond to TransLink’s plans for a six-lane bridge replacement for the Pattullo Bridge.

The rally will start at 9:30 a.m. from Sapperton Park and continue to Sapperton Pensioners Hall for 10 a.m., where TransLink is holding an open house on the project.

The rally is being organized by a grassroots group comprised of individual community members from both sides of the river, according to a press release. Support for this rally includes New West school trustees Jonina Campbell and David Phelan, the Surrey Citizens Transportation Initiative (Surrey CiTl), and New Westminster Environmental Partners (NWEP).

Rally organizers say they have two related messages for TransLink: “No 6-lane Bridge,” and “Give Surrey Transit Now.”

These messages address the discrepancy between TransLink’s Transport 2040 Transportation Strategy (to "make early investments that encourage development of communities designed for transit, cycling, and walking", and to “aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions”) and their plans to widen the Pattullo Bridge and expand roads.

“We need to put transit first when it comes to TransLink resources,” said Steve Burke, Surrey CiTI spokesperson. “There is no division between our communities about the basics, global warming and the end of cheap oil means we need to focus on improving transit instead of roadway expansion for cars and trucks.”

“Giving people south of the Fraser mobility options other than the automobile is critical,” said Reena Meijer Drees, president of New Westminster Environmental Partners.

The other concern is about the lack of fairness in their public consultation process, the organizers say. Without any open dialogue or independent verification on the feasibility of other options, TransLink announced their decision that the Pattullo Bridge would be replaced with a six-lane bridge.

“Clearly, we need some dialogue,” said Patrick Johnstone, one of the organizers. “Previous TransLink open houses only allowed for the public to have input on a narrow range of options for bridge location and connections, details that come late in the planning stage.”

Meanwhile, Johnstone added, "Surrey has been clamouring for more transit infrastructure, and TransLink has been claiming poverty, yet they want to spend $1 billion on car infrastructure.”

Statements against bridge expansion have been released by the New Westminster's Traffic Advisory Committee, the school board and NWEP. A survey recently commissioned by the City of New Westminster showed that 82 per cent of respondents do not agree with the six-lane plan.

Opposition to a 6-lane plan includes residents already affected by the South Fraser Perimeter Road and people in the Bridgeview neighbourhood are not in favour of a bigger bridge either. Community groups like South Fraser Ontrax, who have been advocating for better transit for Surrey and Langley, as well as The Surrey Citizens Transportation Initiative (Surrey CiTI) have concerns about transportation infrastructure priorities.

Sapperton Park is located at the corner of Sherbrook Street at East Columbia in New Westminster.

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