Greater Vancouver Gateway Council: We Need to Invest in Transportation

By: Bob Wilds, Managing Director of the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council

By: Bob Wilds, Managing Director, Greater Vancouver Gateway Council

The Greater Vancouver Gateway Council represents the major commercial transportation service providers—via seaports, airport, railways, and marine terminals, and by truck—in the Greater Vancouver Region, as well as related international trade and tourism service providers.

In the late 1990s, the Gateway Council published A Major Commercial Transportation System for this Region, in which the infrastructure projects required for the Greater Vancouver Region to reach its full potential as a transportation gateway were identified. Some of those projects included: the North and South Fraser Perimeter Roads; a crossing of the Fraser River, i.e. the Golden Ears Bridge; improvements to Highway 1; and the need to address congestion at the Port Mann Bridge.

The report also detailed support for many other smaller projects within the regional road network, as well as completion of the Canada and Evergreen Lines, which would help reduce road congestion. That study demonstrated those projects would allow the Gateway to prosper and grow for the benefit of the Region, the Province, and Western Canada.

With many of those projects completed or underway, the Council commissioned a 2007 study on the economic impact of the gateway. At that time, the current transportation system was generating 82,000 direct high paying jobs—well above the BC average wage—more than 157,000 jobs when indirect and induced employment were included.

Tracks at Waterfront

The transportation system was also found to generate $6.5 billion in annual GDP and to contribute $428 million in Municipal property taxes and $934 million and $1.7 billion in annual sales and income taxes to the Provincial and Federal Governments. Not only that, Gateway-related businesses were also investing an estimated $1.8 billion in capital investments in BC every year.

The Great Vancouver Region is forecasted to grow by an additional 1 million people over the next 30 years. Air passengers and air and marine cargo volumes are also expected to increase significantly, putting additional pressure on the Region’s road and transit systems. While a few infrastructure projects are still required for the goods movement sector, better, more efficient ways to use the existing road system must be developed through Initiatives such as:

Extending warehouse and port terminal hours; and

Improving traffic management systems, such as accident investigation.

The Gateway Council would see transit inefficiencies addressed as well, with a focus on:

Improving transit service; and

Clearly identifying where and when additional service is needed.

Failure to provide an efficient and reliable transportation system will jeopardize the Greater Vancouver Region’s ability to meet the growing needs of Canadian importers and exporters, as well as the growing local tourism sector.

More importantly, stagnating will not simply result in the status quo, but also in lost opportunities with ripple effects such as the loss of work opportunities. Loss of work opportunities reduces the tax monies collected by all levels of government, which then impacts capacity to provide the public services residents of the Greater Vancouver Region require.

The Region’s transportation system must efficiently serve both transit and road users alike, many of whom have no transportation alternative. The Gateway Council will work with other stakeholders to make sure the Region’s Transportation Authority (TransLink) is equipped with the tools necessary to meet the growing needs of all groups using the transportation network in a fair and balanced manner.