Friday, November 28, 2008

Open Letter to Senor Monumento

Jillian Skeet

An Open Letter to Premier Campbell

November 28th, 2008

Premier Gordon Campbell

Box 9041, Station Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1

Dear Premier Campbell,

I wrote you a letter last February with heart-wrenching details about the destruction of small family-owned businesses along Cambie Street and the terrible human costs as a result of the disastrous way in which the Canada Line project has been undertaken.

My letter was duly forwarded by you to the Minister of Transportation for response. Over half a year later, I received a response from Minister Falcon simply reiterating the same old arguments the government has been using since the outset of this project.

Your government continues to insist that you are simply a funder of the Canada Line and are not responsible for the project. However, it was you who forced municipal authorities to vote three times on this project until it was finally approved. This was not only undemocratic, but it clearly puts your government in the driver’s seat on the project.

The Canada Line is the biggest P3 project ever undertaken in Canada. It is not simply another public works project. It is unprecedented in its scope, duration and impacts. It is a new construction model that exhibits serious problems in both its implementation and in the chain of command.

My neighbourhood at Cambie and Marine Drive was virtually barricaded for more than a year with no safe or reasonable access for residents or for emergency vehicles. Every access route along Cambie - including 59th Avenue on which both an ambulance and fire station are located - was simultaneously closed. Fire trucks and ambulances faced major detours and delays. (A city transportation report dated January 20th, 1998 states: "59th Avenue is a primary access point for many residents east of Cambie, and is the only through east-west street south of 49th and north of Marine Drive.")

For months before I had a car accident, I dealt with both City and Canada Line officials about our access nightmare. The lack of safe traffic management resulted in many car accidents in addition to my own. The Canada Line blamed the City saying that they decided the traffic patterns, while the City told me that they had insisted on a bridge to maintain access to our neighbourhood at 59th. So just who was in charge?

The promises of minimal disruption and two to three months of construction at any given location were broken in every instance. Canada Line contractors were given freedom to do what they wanted, where they wanted, how they wanted, for as long as they wanted, with absolutely no oversight or accountability. This is an unacceptable flaw in the P3 structure and as the award-winning champion of these projects, the buck has to stop with you. Your government now insists that all projects over $20 million must use the P3 model, so the implications are far reaching.

Your government has always stressed that those who have been so inconvenienced by Canada Line construction will benefit in the long-term, but many businesses and residents along the Canada Line will be priced out of the area due to rezoning and redevelopment. The 70 families including 90 children in my townhouse complex at Cambie and Marine Drive were recently faced with reno-viction notices from the new owners who purchased the complex a year and a half ago.

In recent weeks we have learned of government bail-outs of large corporations working on Olympics projects. The City of Vancouver provided a $100 million dollar loan to Millennium Development and your government handed over more than $50 million to cover Canada Line losses as result of investments in the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the U.S. In both instances, the first we learned of these corporations’ difficulties was when the money was handed over. In contrast, we’ve watched small family-owned businesses along the Canada Line dying a slow and painful death for the last three years while your government has repeatedly turned its back on them.

Your government insists that helping the small businesses and families destroyed by your project would set a dangerous precedent and yet, you don’t hesitate to set a costly precedent by bailing out large corporations.

The last two bi-elections and the recent Vancouver election are a clear indictment of your government’s attitude towards, and treatment of, the citizens and small businesses in this province. The Canada Line disaster will remain a blot on your government’s record until it is remedied.

There must be full compensation for the small businesses and promises to all of us that this disaster will never be repeated in the Province of British Columbia.


Jillian Skeet

A23 – 445 SW Marine Drive (at Cambie)

Vancouver, BC V5X 2R9



Anonymous said...

David, what has happened to the Cambie St. merchants and residents is despicable. Everyone who knows anything about cut and cover construction knows that it devastates business along its route. When one includes compensation packages to those effected, cut-and-cover construction costs rival that of bored tunnel!

But that is not the whole story. The cost of RAV has escalated from an original $1.3 billion to over $2.5 billion. In a desperate attempt to save money four major design changes were made.
1) Switch from bored tunnel to cut and cover.
2) Switch from SkyTrain to a conventional metro system ( incompatible with SkyTrain)
3) Station platforms only 50 metres long and can only accommodate a 3 car train.
4) Single tracking the line on sections along #3 road in Richmond.

The switch from bored tunnel to cut-and-cover is much cheaper if compensation is not paid.

The switch to a conventional metro meant that cost savings could be made by not installing the reaction rail needed for SkyTrain's LIM's. Bombardier Mk.2 cars are also more expensive than ROTEM's metro cars.

Smaller 50 metre stations platforms means that capacity is constrained to a maximum of about 15,000 persons per hour per direction, which create two important issues: A) To enlarge the stations, cut-and-cover must once again be used on Cambie St. B) The capacity of RAV is constrained to about 15,000 pphpd, which is less that if simple & much cheaper LRT were to be built either on the Arbutus or Cambie St.! In simple terms any streetcar line (dual track) can accommodate upwards of 20,000 pphpd, yet RAV, constrained by design changes can only accommodate 15,000 pphpd - Yet RAV costs 3 to 4 times more to build than LRT!

Single tracking, save money on using less concrete but again constrains capacity of RAV in Richmond.

What RAV is, is very simple; a massive confidence tricksters game to satisfy Gordon Campbell's wish for a transit P-3, to sell to the media and the voters. Falcon is just monkey, doing what the organ grinder wishes. The really sad part of this dreadful tale is that RAV is not a P-3, never was, as it is just a Bre-X style bait and switch operation that Vancouver's media have all ignored!

RAV makes BC Rail Gate look like small potatoes indeed.


Anonymous said...

I drove down cambie street tonight and noticed a "going out of business" sign in the window of Susan hayes's store hazel and Company. I was very sad to see this.

Anonymous said...

Saw on the news last night that Susan Hayes is opening a new store. I believe it was reported that it will be on Main Street.

Anonymous said...

30 November...

David: I, too, saw the Global TV coverage of the Cambie Street destruction zone...and Susan Heyes being interviewed. What really gets me now, is that Campbell, Falcon and CanLine apologist Alan Dever, seem to think that if an entrepreneur moves to another location and begins to build another sucessful business, everything's solved and OK. That's absolute rot. The monies already lost (stolen) from their bottom line stays lost until it is repaid. I applaud those business owners who are suing, and hope they can stick with it. If they ever manage to elbow their way into court through the wall of taxpayer funded lawyers, I am convinced this 3-4 year mess will be found to be a flagrant abuse of public power.

Canadians better wake up, and wake up in a hurry - this country's governments are fast becoming rotten from top to bottom.

Liz J.