"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Closing a Riverview loophole. Phew!

Riverview landmark. (Photo by Terry O'Neill)
You might recall that Council and the City of Coquitlam spent a fair bit of time and effort earlier this year to commission and then distribute a major new report on the City's vision for the future of the Riverview lands.
However, when BC Housing's lastest public-consultation summary report was made public last week, I noticed that it made absolutely no mention of Coquitlam's detailed and well-received report -- this, even though Coquitlam's report was distributed during the most-recent period in which BC Housing had collected public input, and even though BC Housing's report summarizes the input it received, not only at open houses and from official advisory groups, but also from additional persons and organizations.
And, so, I set about to find out what exactly was going on and to fix the problem.
First, some background: Written by mental-health expert Dr. John Higenbottam, the City's report recommends the establishment of a health-and-wellness campus on the grounds.
Immediately after the report was made public in mid-June, city staff circulated it to all interested parties, including various departments of the provincial government.
And so, after noticing that the report wasn't mentioned in BC Housing's latest summary of the input it has received, I messaged the organization coordinating BC Housing's visioning exercise, Brook Pooni Associates Inc. The company answered that BC Housing's Consultation Summary Report "includes all the communications material that has been officially [emphasis added] submitted to BC Housing to date."
Yes, the City's vision had been received by BC Housing and was being reviewed and considered by the provincial body, the company added. However, "It [Coquitlam's report] was not ... submitted to be included in the report."
My immediate reaction upon reading this can be summed up in one word: Yikes! My more-detailed thought was: Well, we'd better take steps to close this little loophole, in order to ensure that the City's report becomes part of the official record. 
The message from Brook Pooni ends with these sentences: "The next set of Open Houses will take place at the end of September. We would be happy to include the City's Vision report as part of our next Consultation Summary Report following the upcoming events."
Yes, I think that would be exactly what the City would want to happen, and I have now taken steps at City Hall to ensure that this does, indeed, take place.
I would hate to think that provincial decision-makers, who may very well be buried in paperwork, might downgrade (or, worse yet, not even be aware of) Coquitlam's report because it hadn't gone through official channels.
In the end, it's looking like "no harm, no foul." And thank goodness for that.
AUGUST 29 UPDATE: The folks at Brook Pooni have sent me an email saying that, in the interim (that is, until the City report can be officially submitted), they will place on the Renewing Riverview website either the full Coquitlam report or a link to that report. Most appreciated!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Never Evergreen for Skytrain line?

Evergreen Line construction tour. (Photo by Terry O'Neill)
What's in a name? Well, when it comes to the name of the Evergreen Line, there's a lot. A lot of importance, that is. It's a name that Coquitlam has embraced, that has inspired our residents and that even a few property developers have borrowed to describe their condominiums.
However, I learned several months ago that Translink might abandon the Evergreen name in favour of something else, but I didn't discuss it in public because the decision was not final and I didn't want to do or say something that might hurt the chances for the Evergreen name to remain.
However, now that the Tri-Cities Now has broken the story about the possible change, the coast is clear to delve into the issue.
The problem began when the Evergreen Line changed from being a spur off the Millennium Line to a continuous service with the Millennium. Under the old model, eastbound travellers from Vancouver to Coquitlam would have had to disembark at Lougheed Station and board a distinct and separate line from Lougheed into Port Moody and Coquitlam. Having a separate name--Evergreen--made ultimate good sense under that model.
But at least three years ago, the model changed to one that would see the Millennium and Evergreen lines merged into one continuous whole. Folks travelling, for example, from Broadway-Commercial to Coquitlam's Lincoln Station would enjoy one continuous, uninterrupted ride. And that's good, of course! (But not so good for commuters used to travelling with no transfers from, for example, Broadway-Commercial to Braid in New Westminster; they'll have to disembark at Lougheed and get on a new eastbound train to get to Braid.).
When, about two years ago, I confirmed the new configuration, I said in public that it would provide a great service to Coquitlam residents but that it would also create a naming problem for Translink. This is because it would be very confusing for commuters riding eastbound on the Millennium Line to, once they had passed Lougheed station, suddenly find themselves on the Evergreen Line. The new, merged and continuous line would have to have one new, merged and continuous name, I told Translink. (This discussion took place in an open council meeting called to provide council input into the name of the Coquitlam stations -- input that Translink took to heart, by the way.)
Given that both the Millennium and Evergreen names were quite firmly established, I suggested a compromise: turn "Evergreen" into an adjective to describe the "Millennium," and name the entire Vancouver-Coquitlam line the Evergreen-Millennium.
The Now story suggests that Translink thinks the name is too long. And there would undoubtedly be extra costs involved in changing all the existing Millennium Line signs to make them read "Evergreen-Millennium," but I think it's the best option we have. Otherwise, I fear that we'll be stuck with the "Millennium Line" along the full length of the Vancouver-Burnaby-Port Moody-Coquitlam service.
You can let the Translink board know what you think by clicking here. And you can contact the the provincial government's Evergreen office by clicking here.
AUGUST 25 UPDATE: The Vancouver Sun is reporting that the Evergreen Line will keep its name after all! Read the full story by clicking here.