Canada should ensure we're not let behind when it comes to high-speed rail

<p>It’s time for Canada to wake up to the reality of high-speed rail.While federal politicians pay limited lip service to the idea ofconnecting our urban regions with this sustainable and efficient modeof transport, other countries are forging ahead with more concreteplans.</p>

 

It’s time for Canada to wake up to the reality of high-speed rail. While federal politicians pay limited lip service to the idea of connecting our urban regions with this sustainable and efficient mode of transport, other countries are forging ahead with more concrete plans.

 

Last week, U.K. Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis declared to the BBC that 2010 would be the year of the bullet train.

 

“I want Britain to be a pioneer in low-cost, mass-market high-speed rail,” he said, noting the lines could be developed through public-private partnerships.

 

South of the border, U.S. President Barack Obama has made huge strides toward high-speed rail projects across the U.S., setting aside at least $8 billion for such projects.


Wouldn’t you know it, at least one of those projects could have a big impact in British Columbia. The so-called Cascadia Line, connecting Portland and Seattle, could ultimately extend northward to Vancouver.


But you wouldn’t know it by listening to our federal politicians. Both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff have paid minimal attention to this potentially transformational development.


Ignatieff, of course, has been happy to talk about his goal of high-speed rail for the Windsor to Quebec City corridor. But his vision has yet to reach B.C.


What a missed political opportunity for the Liberal party leader.


More importantly, what an overlooked economic occasion for this province. Observers have already noted that Obama’s high-speed rail plans for America could eventually rival his country’s highway building program of a half-century ago.


It would be a shame if political neglect were to leave Metro Vancouver out of this golden transportation opportunity.


*****

North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto should be commended for bravely pursuing a bike lift for his city’s cycling constituents. The technology is now being studied by his staff, and given predictable criticism from political opponents, it’s impressive the project has come this far.


The idea of a quirky bike escalator in the dense but hilly Lonsdale corridor makes good sense, and shows a real commitment to promoting cycling not just to spandex-clad road racers, but to all bike commuters.


Not to be outdone is New Westminster, which last month launched a bike lift feasibility study of its own. It’s part of the city’s Downtown Community Plan, which is ushering in a new era of smart transportation and urban planning for the former provincial capital.

 
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