Rails with Trails – recent critism and other options.

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In today’s Capital News, Judie Steeves mentions a number of pluses and minuses for the environment, in a review of 2007. Near the end she comments, “However, concrete and pavement provided the bad news, with plans for paving over a wetland along Mill Creek for a 40 metre wide bicycle corridor. Ironic, isn’t it.”

The “40 metres” is a misprint – I believe it should be 4 metres. She is correct that it is being built on a wetland area.

I have a lot of respect for Judie as she is one of the few people in the Okanagan who state their mind about the environment. To most the environment is simply free for their use. Since there are seldom any economic costs to abusing the environment, use what you want and to hell with the consequences. Judie regularly brings to our attention that this attitude is causing more and more trouble for us as time goes on.

I cannot recall her columns for previous years but hope that she reflected that the 4 lane highway on the other side of the tracks is a bigger source of environmental problems than the pedestrian/cycling trail will ever be.

I feel that the corridor along the tracks should be developed differently, concentrating on light rail transit and pedestrian/cycling path(s) and not the highway that is now blighting that area. This would have avoided much of the “necessity” for new construction near or on wetlands. In fact this was the general approach taken by Councillor Rule at hearings earlier this year (regarding constructing the COB north of Spall).

My rational for the above is that we already have a number of major routes running South to North in the Valley – Springfield, Hwy 97, Enterprise and Glenmore Roads among others. All are busy enough to severely disrupt non motorized life in the valley and once built they took only a few years to fill to capacity. I am sure that nothing will change with the new (and misnamed) “Central Okanagan Bypass”. Once it is completed out to the Airport area, it will be filled within a few years – then what do we do? I suspect the next step is to make Glenmore 6 lanes from around Spall out to Lake Country. Once that is done we may not have room for many other routes. Is this intelligent? Is it progress? Or is it merely copying other cities that have screwed things up royally because they were not creative enough to find better solutions?

The argument against light rail transit is that it is too expensive. This is based solely on economics – it gives absolutely no dollar value to the diminished quality of life or damage to the environment (by highways and motor vehicle traffic). If these factors were taken into account it is likely that light rail would compete on a more equitable basis.

That’s my rant for today – Keep up the good work Judie.

John.

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One Response to “Rails with Trails – recent critism and other options.”

  1. Grant Rice Says:

    Good story John. I agree that the highway is a greater threat to the environment than a bike lane.

    Judie does a good job on the environment at the Capital News and perhaps we should contact her about this and other issues.
    Perhaps show her the website too.

    Grant.

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