Given how often gridlock comes up in conversation, we decided to ask candidates for their thoughts on getting people from point A to point B in Port Moody.
What’s the biggest transportation problem in Port Moody, and what should be done about it?
Traffic along St. Johns’ Street is a nightmare and will only get worse as Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam grow. We need to route more local traffic through Clarke and Murray with a new 2-lane overpass near the old sawmill. We should adjust the timing of traffic lights like Vancouver’s green wave so that we don’t create artificial traffic jams. We should hire a traffic expert and explore solutions like adjusting street parking or left turn hours during peak times.
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Literally for decades I have asked the city to take a holistic approach development and transportation rather than do studies development by development. We have significant development to the east of us and Port Moody has become a transportation conduit resulting in conditions during rush hour that cannot be deemed anything but a failure. Let’s recognize and understand the problem and then define the solution. Mass transit improvements are slow to materialize and even with the new developments, many residents are still dependent on personal vehicles to get to work. I work on the North Shore and it takes me 2 hours a day to commute. If I had to make transit connection (I have tried) it would take twice as long.
It is clear to me from door knocking that traffic is the #1 complaint of residents. Unfortunately, much of our traffic is “passby” because of our location between growing communities to the east and Vancouver/Burnaby to the west. We need to concentrate our home-building on TOD to keep as many people out of cars as possible, and work cooperatively with all stakeholders (neighbouring municipalities, Translink, the Province, and active transportation advocates) to increase and improve our transportation options.
St. John’s is our city’s biggest choke point serving Port Moody residents and as a thoroughfare for the region. Our first approach – we need to stop approving development that will make our traffic worse without a plan for mitigating additional traffic. For example, some on council voted against a cumulative traffic impact study prior to approving the huge amendment to our community plan for Coronation Park – 5000 + new residents on the corner of St John’s and Ioco Rd. I believe any larger development application should include a city-led, developer-funded cumulative traffic study. While increased density near transit will promote transit use we need to also be realistic about traffic impacts as people continue to use personal vehicles. This includes a transition to electric vehicles. We also need to ensure we are supporting access to mass transit via improved shuttle routes across the city so people do not have to drive their cars to the skytrain or West Coast Express. Improving and connecting safe routes for biking and walking throughout the city is also a top priority.
In addition to planning for future growth, we have to figure out how to address traffic and safety issues happening today. Safety and traffic “hot spots” identified by residents should be prioritized for near-term mitigation options. Not left unaddressed.
Traffic during rush hours. There is no simple solution — improving mobility around our city will require a multidimensional approach including making it easier to get around without a car (improve bike and pedestrian infrastructure, advocate for better access to transit) and working with neighbouring communities on regional transportation issues.
Amy Lubik (incumbent)
Congestion at peak hours. We should be looking to expedite creating active transportation routes to make it easy and safe for as many people as possible to get out of their cars, advocating to expand rapid transit east to decrease through traffic, and creating complete neighbourhoods so people can get their needs met without a car.
Traffic is one of the two biggest issues I have heard when meeting residents over the past few months. Although most traffic is traveling through our community to the east or west, I think we can do a lot to encourage active transportation in our community. If we can reduce the reliance on vehicles (especially during rush hour) and can provide the amenities and essentials our residents need in close proximity to their homes, we may just help contribute to a reduction in our own citizens needing to be a part of the traffic.
Steve Milani (mayoral candidate)
Traffic along St. Johns St. is a massive problem. I wrote a report to Council in 2019 addressing this issue which was supported but staff has made very little progress on it. This must be made a priority as it directly affects the lives of Port Moody residents.
Hunter Madsen (incumbent)
Port Moody’s geography – it is nestled into, and wrapped around, a seaside cleft between steep hillsides, with its north shore being somewhat peninsular – places severe limitations upon the number and capacity of its primary roadways, which number just four. While it’s true that we also have two Skytrain Stations and want to optimize growth nearby, the rate of Skytrain usage will probably never exceed 55% of all daily trips per resident, for a host of reasons, which means that each addition of 1000 new working residents in Port Moody adds another 500 commuter cars to our roadways at peak hours. And because Barnet/St. Johns is a primary through-traffic route for daily commuters to and from the northeast sector, our rush hours will always be intense, but bad urban planning choices by our City Hall can make them significantly worse.
When congestion, gridlock, and commuter drive times reach a certain level of severity, thru-commuters can always re-route their course to avoid Port Moody altogether and take their traffic glut with them. Today thru-commuters contribute roughly half of the traffic at peak hours, and when, in the near future, these drivers start re-routing their commutes to avoid PoMo, they will free up roughly 2000 car spaces per peak hour for new local drivers to fill in.
But once local densification adds more than 2000 additional locally-based cars on our roadways during rush hours, all additional local car density translates into increased drive times in and out of our city. Those drive-times will become intense: whereas drivers commuting from Port Moody today spend, on average, 30-45 minutes getting to work, we could be looking at average commuter drive times approaching two hours in each direction, every work day. Sooner or later, if we allow drive-times to spiral up and out of control, Port Moody will become reviled as Port Gridlock, and nobody sane will wish to live here: our community’s liveability and basic ability to function would begin to deteriorate.
Bad urban planning by City Hall can make things even worse. For example, our planners can decide to install our heaviest residential density at the city’s key traffic chokepoints to add to the daily gridlock, as our Council foolishly elected to do earlier this year when it gave a greenlight to Wesgroup’s proposal to install 5,200 more residents at the corner of Ioco/St. Johns. (Even the developer’s own wildly optimistic traffic study projected critical traffic breakdowns at that corner.) Desperate to relocate some of our city’s coming density away from this crucial crossroads, I supported the Woodlands project on the westside flank of our city, so that commuters from that part of the city would mainly be coming and going toward Vancouver and Burnaby, and not bringing their daily traffic directly into our downtown.
The bottom line on our city’s severe traffic problems is that our City Council must stop blithely greenlighting dumb density in parts of the city where it seems sure to overwhelm our roadways and thereby interrupt the basic functionality of our city for everyone. When fundamental city systems such as our roadways are being rendered non-functional through the addition of yet more residents, common sense should tell us that we’re trying to squeeze ten pounds into a five-pound sack: there’s no choice other than to slow down on further densification.