A 'reasonable' approach in a sea of politics

New Westminster's report on the city's perspective and proposed solution to what to do with the aging Pattullo Bridge is titled A Reasonable Approach - A Perspective on the Pattullo Bridge. And we believe it is exactly that: a reasonable approach to a difficult problem.

New Westminster doesn't call for the bridge's entire removal, it doesn't call for it to be turned into a big planter with community farms, it simply suggests a middle-of-the-road solution. Make it a four-lane bridge with tolls. Surrey, on the other hand, wants a new six-lane bridge. Of course, from Surrey's perspective, that makes abundant sense. Get those cars and trucks out of Surrey and damn the consequences on the other side of the river. And, if New Westminster had taken the same "I'm all right Jack" approach, it would have suggested building a new four-lane bridge with an entirely new access point - say into Coquitlam. But it didn't. And that's a good thing. As Mayor Wayne Wright says: "We have no room without destroying our neighbourhoods and without destroying our parks. And our road network has no room to expand." New West is not Langley or Abbotsford, it's not Surrey, or Mission. It's a small, aging city trying to maintain some quality of life. And, dare we dream, even improve upon our neighbourhoods and business areas.

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But here's where the rubber meets the road. Transit officials may agree that New Westminster's plan makes sense, but the ugly, hungry snout of politics is always ready to root around in the issue. New Westminster has an NDP MLA, a council that's viewed as one leaning to the left, and it holds little political clout. Surrey, on the other hand, is a rich political field that always offers some hope for a Liberal bounty.

Now, we hope, that common sense and not politics prevails in the Pattullo decision. But given the Golden Ears bridge, the latest plan for a bridge to Richmond, and other projects that look a tad like political payoffs or carrots, we're not holding our breath on this one.

If common sense doesn't prevail, we suspect the usually civil citizens of New Westminster will demonstrate exactly what unreasonable behaviour could look like.

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