Letter: Instead of a car-free Columbia, fix 10th Avenue


I am completely against “car-free” streets in New Westminster.  

Why does one group of citizens want to inconvenience another group of citizens in this community? We all have to live together, we are all just trying to get through life with as little trouble as possible. 

Quit picking on drivers. I don’t drive anymore, but I used to and my daughter still does. She would very happily use public transit to get to work if she could, but her work in the movie industry has her driving all over the Lower Mainland. Talk about a wasteful industry, on many levels, but that’s the way she makes her living. 

Goody for you if you can go about your business without driving a car, but stop penalizing those of us who can’t.

The thing that needs to change in New West is the roads. They are going to spend ($1.4 billion) replacing the Pattullo bridge, which will probably bring millions more vehicles into this community, but they are doing nothing to improve the feeder roads and I am not just talking about the ones that are connected to either end of the bridge. 

A lot of traffic in New West is just passing through. They shouldn’t have to use our residential and commercial streets to do that, but they have no other options here. 

I say turn 10th Avenue into a bypass road. They could be working on it while they are building the new Pattullo Bridge. 

Tenth already is a de-facto truck route, but it’s a lot of heavy traffic, on a very narrow road, that was never designed for that. If 10th Avenue was upgraded and properly connected to Highway 1 on the one end and Marine Way on the other end, it could be a much better truck route. 

It’s already connected to McBride, across the Pattullo Bridge and to Burnaby on Canada Way, Kingsway and Southridge via Byrne to Marine Drive and Way. 

Plus, if the vehicles driving down 10th do need to make deliveries or come into New West for any reason, 10th connects to every street in town. New West is just a tiny, little city, we only have a few roads to choose from, pick one and make it the best that it can be. 

A truck route on 10th Avenue would inconvenience the people who live there, but it’s already doing that and it’s already a lot worse than a properly designed road would be. 

Compensate those residents in some way, give them a grant to put in triple glazing, put up sound barriers, whatever. It’s easier to change one street than it is to try to change the whole city. 

tenth avenue intersection
The intersection of 10th Avenue and 6th Street. Chris Campbell photo

We need to have a way of funnelling all this “passing through” traffic, away from our city streets. 

Limping along, year after year, with this inefficient, archaic road system, is not getting us anywhere. 

Other cities have managed to build bypass roads, why can’t New West? Of course, those roads haven’t gotten rid of the traffic, but they move it through neighbourhoods much more efficiently and keep the congestion confined.   

We have a plethora of interchanges and freeways on the fringes of this city that have conspired to make our traffic congestion worse. They have turned New West into a convenient short cut. 

Now we need to turn it into an efficient shortcut. We need to get to the core of this issue and deal with what’s wrong with our streets. Automobiles are not going away, they may become more energy efficient, but they are just too convenient for everyone who uses them, to disappear. 

Car-free streets are not going to address these issues. However, maybe if we found a way to really deal with our traffic congestion, we could enjoy a few pedestrian friendly streets, open only to local traffic, as in, the people who live there or have business there.  

Betty Gray, New Westminster

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