In response to The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Initiative to consult on the construction of the Brunette Interchange we have sent the following email on behalf of the MSRA:
From: “lukas hardjowasito” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: “Janelle Erwin” <Janelle.Erwin@gov.bc.ca>, “Jennifer Locke” <Jennifer.Locke@gov.bc.ca>
Cc: “Ashok Bhatti” <Ashok.Bhatti@gov.bc.ca>, “Minister Transportation” <Minister.Transportation@gov.bc.ca>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, “pjohnstone” <email@example.com>, “Jaimie McEvoy” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, “Lisa Leblanc” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, “judy darcy MLA” <judy.darcy.MLA@leg.bc.ca>, “McBride/Sapperton RA” <email@example.com>, “Rupinder Basi” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 21, 2016 3:22:32 PM
Subject: Brunette Interchange Project – McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association Official Position
Dear Ms. Erwin and Ms. Locke,
Further to our previous letter dated November 29, 2016, I am writing on behalf of the McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association to express our Residents’ Association’s position on the Brunette Interchange Project as it has been presented to us so far.
As you know, at our meeting on Tuesday, November 22, 2016, attended by well over 150 residents, a motion was passed to request an extension of the consultation process. We have since received your response that this process will not be extended. Please know that we are very disappointed in this decision, and would like it noted for the record that we feel the consultation process thus far has not been sufficient nor extensive enough, as it was only based on four open houses that presented the same limited information upon which attendees were expected to provide meaningful feedback. Most specific questions and concerns that have been raised so far have been met with the standard answer that these are “conceptual, high level ideas”, and that specifics will not be available until after one, or possibly two, of the options have been eliminated, and a favoured option put forth for further consideration and study.
During your presentation and question and answer session with our residents, the issue of livability was raised several times by our residents, particularly as it does not appear as one of the “metrics” on your list. Ms. Locke and Ms. Erwin, our residents were surprised and dismayed at your comment that “livability means different things to different people”, and that, for you, livability means “being able to drive easily from Point A to Point B”. You stated that, as part of their feedback, individuals needed to define what livability means. As part of our community discussion afterwards, therefore, the following “definitions” were given, which clearly indicate how people interpret that term in the context of their neighbourhood, and the potential impacts that this project might have on it:
- “greenery, not concrete”
- “being able to sleep at night with the bedroom windows open, and not having the constant sound of traffic, especially trucks braking and speeding up again, in the background”
- “wanting to spend time in one’s home and neighbourhood, not trying to avoid it”
- “being able to have a conversation in one’s front and backyards and not having to raise one’s voice”
- “not having to wipe particulate matter caused by car exhaust off patio furniture on the back porch each day”
- “feeling safe walking down my street with my six year-old, not worrying about cars speeding down our narrow streets”
- “not having the visual impact of a monstrous concrete overpass as the view from the back or front of my house”
- “not being worried about the long-term health effects of breathing in car exhaust and air pollution from increased and elevated traffic in our neighbourhood”
- “being able to sit out in my back yard with a glass of wine or a cup of tea and enjoy a quiet evening”
It is very clear from these direct comments from local residents that they feel their livability will be impacted by at least two of the options being considered for this project. It was also abundantly clear that they felt that livability was not given sufficient consideration as one of the metrics for the project, and that it should be included specifically in the criteria list.
Our residents’ concerns over livability will hopefully serve as a reminder that our neighbourhood is a long-established one within New Westminster, and, indeed, within the entire Lower Mainland. Sapperton was established in the 1860s, when the Royal Engineers, known as “sappers”, set up camp on the lands above the Fraser River. Over the past 150 years, Sapperton has become a thriving, historic neighbourhood and commercial district that is home to the Royal Columbian Hospital and Labatt’s Brewery, the historic cemetery on Richmond Street, the Brunette River, and numerous beautiful green spaces, including the Glenbrook Ravine, Sapperton Landing, Sapperton Park, and Hume Park, to name a few. Ours is a neighbourhood that includes a wonderful blend of many long-time residents and many new residents – including young couples and families – who proudly value its unique sense of history and community, its walkability and diversity.
Sapperton has experienced much change over the past 150 years, and is currently undergoing one of the biggest transitions in its history with the redevelopment of the Brewery District, the Royal Columbian Hospital, the E. Columbia commercial stretch, and Sapperton Green. We will also soon see a brand new school at the corner of Rousseau and Braid Streets, which will bring hundreds of schoolchildren into our neighbourhood each day. Ours is a neighbourhood that is not averse to change, but the residents of our area have a long history of taking an active part in the process and conversations about how that change occurs; we also have a long history of fighting to defend the unique characteristics that make up Sapperton, and fiercely defending against changes that will negatively impact the livability of all who live, work and play here. We recognize that if change is not managed properly, its impacts can bring long-term, and often irreversible, damage to the neighbourhood. Residents have clearly indicated that the Brunette Interchange Project, if not designed properly, could cause such longterm, irreversible damage to Sapperton.
Therefore, on behalf of the McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association, based on the feedback from the residents at our meeting, I would like to inform you of our position on this project:
- That neighbourhood livability be given equal priority among the criteria being considered for the project options.
- That no option should proceed for consideration that negatively impacts neighbourhood livability, specifically in relation to traffic and pedestrian safety, air and noise pollution, long-term health impacts, visual impacts, and overall increase in traffic in and around the neighbourhood. As such, our Residents’ Association rejects both Options A and B because they have significant impacts on neighbourhood livability, especially with the United Boulevard extension via an overpass, and with the onramps being accessed via or near Rousseau and Sherbrooke Streets.
- That this project should not proceed until a clear picture and detailed explanation of how this “piece” of the traffic infrastructure works together with the whole traffic system, including the Patullo Bridge project. In particular, it is important to demonstrate how the traffic allowed to flow from the United Boulevard Extension will move smoothly through New Westminster; if the traffic simply flows through and clogs up farther into New Westminster, then this project is simply creating more problems for our City.
- That other forms of transportation be given prime consideration as part of the design for this project, not just vehicular traffic. Some of our residents indicated dismay that public transit, cyclist and pedestrian traffic was not considered as part of the design guidelines for this conceptual level of design.
- That, as per our previous request, much more detailed information be provided than has been given to date, and that more extensive public consultation be conducted before any decisions are made about any of the options. That this consultation include a detailed summary of:
- What was heard from the various affected parties such as The Cities of New Westminster and Coquitlam, the Trucking Association, the Braid Industrial Area, Business Interests, the Sapperton Green Development, commuters and local residents from both cities and,
- Answers to the questions that had been raised for consideration.
That after a reasonable amount of time to consider this summary and the answers to the questions, an additional opportunity for dialogue and feedback is provided.
We hope that you recognize the level of concern and anxiety this project has caused in our community. This was hopefully made evident by the presence of so many people at our November 22 meeting; it was noted by long-term members of the RA that this was probably the largest number of people to ever attend a Residents’ Association meeting. The concern in our area is that this project represents an existential threat to our neighbourhood, to residents’ livability, and to homeowners’ property values, and residents are determined to have their voices heard and respected.
A project that is worth, at the very minimum, half a billion dollars, must be done right, and in a way that involves full, transparent, and fair consultation of all stakeholders. If, as you stated at the meeting, there is no definitive timeline for this project, then it seems only appropriate that as much time as is needed be taken for extensive and detailed consultation to be conducted.
We trust that you will take our position and concerns seriously, and look forward to hearing back from you in response.
McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association