Election 2014: Candidates share thoughts on relocating Lougheed Highway downtown

District of Mission: Do you support the current plan to move Highway 7 off of First Avenue and turn N. Railway into a two-way street?

The Record asked candidates for mayor and council:

Do you support the current plan to move Highway 7 off of First Avenue and turn N. Railway into a two-way street? Please explain.

The following are the responses we received, unedited.

 

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Wendy Bales

I support moving the Highway off of First avenue, but I think that the current plan needs some work. In the current plan many parking spaces would be removed. That would affect businesses downtown if costumers end up going to malls for better parking. With growing populations we will need more parking and better transit options. The plan should also leave room for future expansion of rail. We also need to work on better storm drainage solutions, some of which could be integrated into buildings over time.

Ted Adlem

I fully support the moving of Highway 7 off of First Avenue.  I believe that it is essential to a true redevelopment of our downtown.  It was the First Big Move of 10 recommended by the public consultation process.  I believe that we need to support the public consultation process and move forward in a positive way for our downtown.

Randy Hawes

No business or government would undertake a major project without first studying both its pros and its cons. Almost unbelievably there has been absolutely no discussion of teh downside of this 6 million dollar move. I am completely opposed to this project as I struggle to find any upside and can see a huge downside. If trucks on 1st. Ave keep shoppers away, then putting all trucks on Railway single lane 2 way will absolutely bankrupt most businesses on Railway. The speed limit on Railway is to increase to 60 km. Imagine big trucks going this speed or faster by the West Coast Express Station which incidentally loses all its loading spaces except for 3 handicap spots. There will be 100 parking spots lost and truck loading zones on 1st Ave. will be required. These must be more than two spots each to accommodate parallel parking by larger delivery trucks. Most of us have seen what happens at Costco when people stop and wait for a car to exit a parking spot so they can take it. That will happen on a single lane 2 way 1st Ave. Traffic backups will result. That is precisely why the council of the day petitioned the government in 1976 to move to the configuration we have today. Now we want to return to what did not work then. The Christmas parade will not run if the Highway moves as there will be no staging area. Every dollar spent on this is a dollar that cannot be spent in neighbourhoods close to where families live. Community infrastructure such as park development can do more for enhancing family life in Mission than the destructive spending on moving the highway.

Tony Luck

We need to do something with the trucks. It’s the biggest complaint we get. When we talk about moving the highway, I see both sides of the issue. Getting trucks off the highway is important, especially if we want to take ownership of First Avenue and clean it up. All other major highway relocations, the federal government has put money in too. They need to step up to the plate and we should look at that too. We need a lot more dialogue with the community on moving the road. Doing nothing is not an option.

 

COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Larry Nundal

I completely support rerouting through traffic, including trucks. This is a key element in the revitalizing the downtown core. In doing this the Municipality will be able to make the necessary changes to first avenue making it more pedestrian and family oriented as in envisioned by the plan to revitalize the downtown. The price tag is approximately 50 million dollars less than the long range plan to construct an easterly bypass over the CPR to Highway 11.

Don Forsythe

I am tottaly behind the plan to move Highway 7 off of 1st Avenue. Doing this will move the heavy truck traffic and those passing through town onto an efficient direct route. It will open 1st Avenue as a shopping destination with wider sidewalks, outdoor café spaces giving the area a very relaxing and Comfortable Aura. Many small and larger cities have adopted this process to enhance their downtown core areas. The cirizens of Mission want a restored and newly developed downtown core that will enhance frequenting and shopping in the downton core. There are those who are trying to inflate these costs but we have a commitment from the province that this project will be cost shared. It is now known that there appears to be two prices for this program.. the CRMG Teams @ Ted Adllem’s  price and the Randy Hawes price. One will get funded from Victoria and the other willl find the doors locked for four years.

Terry Stobbart

No, I don’t support this plan. I feel there is a better way to deal with the heavy trucks and logging trucks.  We could restrict access for time periods.  I believe part of making Mission attractive to tourists is to develop the Railway Street even more, provide parking spaces that are necessary for all of Mission.

Pam Alexis

When the public was first introduced to the idea no one was given information about the level of complexity that this move entailed nor did they address the ramifications if implemented.  On the surface the idea seems to be attractive however there are a number of questions that I have, that until answered, will make it difficult to make a final decision.  First of all what is the split between the province and municipality with respect to cost? What are the actual costs? How will businesses fair under construction as access will be limited? How long will construction be?  Where will people park when it is completed and there are fewer spots and will that impact business? What will happen to the businesses on Railway if there is no stopping? How will people access the West Coast Express safely if they are being dropped off, picked up or they are walking home? If the municipality is paying up to 80% of the costs for this project what is the community not getting as a result? I would like to look at the bigger bypass plan and weigh the costs of that against the cost of the realignment. I would hate to have new infrastructure taken out at a later date if it needed to be changed to satisfy the larger bypass plan. The decision requires more information that has not been shared to date,  and until those questions are answered I cannot give you an answer.

Rhett Nicholson

The downtown business association has thought long and hard about this. We really think it is the best plan for the DT Core. What people have to understand is that we are not Big Box companies. We are a destination for shopping. People come to us because the want expert advise, an original selection and service that really is unmatched. Times are changing and there is enough support to drive a new brand of shopping. Shopping you can make a day out of. Downtown is the only shopping location that can add a social element. The Highway restructuring will be the start of that. Many other communities have gone through similar process with great success. There will still be a few issue’s we will need to hammer out but overall this will open up Main St. as a venue for the Municipality. We can have more events like our Missionfest Street fair. As a member of the Downtown Business association I look forward to change. It is very exciting to refresh the core and make us a more Marketable experience.

Terry Gidda

I do not support the current plan to  move highway 7 off the first Avenue and turn  N. Railway into two way Street. Currently we have a parking problem. With the new plan we will loose 90-100 parking spaces. If the customers can not find parking space, they will shop somewhere else. The businesses on railway will be affected badly. Millions of dollars should not be wasted without public approval.

Shazad Shah

I think we need more information (cost benefit analysis) before agreeing to spending millions of dollars. There is a lack of information on the revitalization plan and I would have liked to see a few options (making both roads 2 way and limiting types of vehicles on each road or even moving the highway to the other side of the tracks) for where the highway should go. The need for a vibrant safe down town is high up on the priority list, but overall I think there are many holes and questions raised regarding this plan that need to be sorted out before construction begins.

Carol Hamilton

I do support the revitalization of our Downtown Core and having the gravel trucks, logging trucks, etc. diverted to railway does make some sense.  This being said I am concern for the existing businesses on Railway Ave… the approx. 100 parking spots that will be lost and the loading and off-loading of passengers from the West Coast Express.   The price tag for moving the highway is over $5M. I understand there will be cost sharing with the Provincial Government but we still don’t know how much the citizens of Mission will be responsible for.

Ronn Harris

I support the plans for the ongoing revitalization of the downtown core, the heart of Mission, as put forward. See the District of Mission website at http://www.mission.ca/ for details. The plan, following a “best practices” approach, involved the many stakeholders, such as the Downtown Business Association. It proposes re-routing through-traffic to Railway Street. It is the best thing we can do at present with what we have, to move revitalization along. Standing still or doing nothing is not a viable option.

Michael Nenn

No, It lacks vision as it wouldn’t address accessibility/parking issues by either the public or delivery trucks.  Plus businesses would be negatively impacted on N. Railway, through the increase in traffic from the Lougheed, exacerbated by the socio-economic issues present in the downtown core.  I would support a plan to build a Hwy 7 bypass(funded by the province), that takes into account a future plan for the waterfront,  to allow First Ave and N. Railway to be completely under municipal jurisdiction.  Create a pedestrian safe environment for shoppers.  Deal with the socio-economic problems through increased partnerships with Mission Community Services, RCMP and finally work with the DBA to improve the character and shopping experience of the downtown core.  The downtown core is important but needs involvement from the district, all businesses, downtown building owners including absentee landlords and the public at large to create a plan that has broad consensus.  As for the concerns that bypassing the downtown core would mean a decline in customers I would argue that a good business attracts it’s clients and doesn’t need to force them to drive by in hopes that they may stop to shop.  An accessible and satisfying shopping experience with quality goods and services in demand and at a fair value attracts a customer base, not logging and gravel trucks on a tight schedule.

Rich Vigurs

5.5 million dollars could go a long way to making the downtown much more attractive. As a resident here I would love to see the whole of the downtown renovated so that it has much more of an aesthetic appeal. The commercial traffic is gone after 5:00 pm anyways. It is my feeling that a spot that people want to go to after hours with businesses opened later in the evening would be a much more attractive to the general population than removing the logging trucks at 10 in the morning.

Attila Davalovsky

I support the revitalization of the heart of our city! The plan is not just to move Highway 7, but a 37-part plan and 6 of these are complete with 13 more in the works. I hear from residents daily how they have noticed improvements downtown, the first being building owners refurbishing the buildings. They say it feel like a safer environment, which is key to “ownership” of 1st Ave. Like the motto states “1st is first”, bringing safety to 1st Ave. supports shopping and public events. The move is key to the revitalization; let’s follow in the steps of so many towns in North America that have taken these steps already.

Danny Plecas

I do not support the current plan to move Hwy 7 off First Avenue. The decision has been made in haste , with real traffic safety concerns still unanswered. Two way traffic (one lane each) and two additional lights will case delays . WCE passengers are at risk and I for see the loss of businesses on railway. If the Ministry is going to pour money into the Murray Street over pass(seismic upgrade) , why not replace with a new overpass that is aligned with a new bypass.

Barry Jeske

In a word “yes.” I know it seems like a lot of money to do this project. I know that a lot of the money will come from gas taxes. This project is not only about a change in the course of traffic but also about the enhancement and revitalization of the downtown with the addition of significant infrastructure that has been needed for years.

Dave Hensman

I fully endorse the plan to move Highway 7 off of First.  Doing this will move the heavy truck traffic and those passing through town onto an efficient direct route. It will then open 1st Avenue as a shopping destination with wider sidewalks, outdoor cafe spaces, trees and green spaces.  The citizens of Mission want a restored and newly developed downtown that matches the beauty and function of the rest of Mission.  There are those who are trying to inflate the price tag but we already have a commitment from the province that this project will be cost shared.  It is now known that there seems to be two prices for the move; the CRMG, Ted Adlem Price and the Randy Hawes price. One will get funding from Victoria and the other will find four years of locked doors.

Jim Hinds

No, I do not support this move for a number of reasons. One Moving the highway down to Railway will cause the lose of over 100 parking spots. Parking spots that were put in place so that the business owners had a place to park so they did not use up all the spots on First Ave. , By the way this was a request from the Downtown Business Owners.

Second the highways Dept. have stated they will raise the speed limit back to 60 KMH in that portion of the highway. Third most of the businesses on Railway rely on parking in the area and without it will have to go out of business because there will be no place for their customers to park. The district is saying they are going to get West Coast Expreess to allow free parking in their parking lot. What they are not telling you is this.

1) Impark has a contract for the parking lot and the only way this will happen is if the fares go up to accomidate the lose in revenue from the free parking.

2) if it is free parking all the cars that now park everywhere but the parking lot will park there and there goes any advantage from free parking.

3) there will be no drop off and pickup allowed. only a combined handicaped bus space is in the drawings. Fort hif you now have a medical or police incident on Railway you can move traffic through on the other lane, that will not happen if the highway is moved to Railway.

4) I have talked to the Highways Dept. about moving truck traffic over Murray Overpass, they do have some concerns about this for a number of reasons. One the left turn lane on First at Murray is not long enough. I asked if it could be enlarged they said they would look into it. They also have concerns about the amount of traffic coming from Abbotsford at certain times of the day so it over loads the intersection at highway 7 & 11. So I asked what if we stopped big truck from using First Ave. from say 8:30 Am to 4:30 pm they also said this might work. Putting the highway on to Railway is wrong on so many levels.