Powell River and Sunshine Coast communities can work together

Hello Oddvin

Your Sunshine Coast Connector website is good. I am impressed.
Attached is my discussion paper about how Powell River and Sunshine Coast communities can work together and get a better result than by leaving it to industry.
Is it possible that a better and more forceful way forward can result if we can have ‘a meeting of the minds’?
May we continue to live in interesting times.

Hi, Your Discussion Paper posted as a Comment on the right side ! Thank You !

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One Response to Powell River and Sunshine Coast communities can work together

  1. Oddvin says:

    Tom Hobbs:


    A Discussion Paper
    Version 3
    October 2015

    Tom Hobbs
    Powell River

    The results from the proposed (by the B.C. Minister of Transport) road and bridge study for Powell River and the Sunshine Coast are crucial. They will be the foundation for planning how to resolve the current transport problems that both damage trade competitiveness and diminish people’s culture and lifestyle.

    Increased globalization means we must improve the long term sustainability of Powell River and the Sunshine Coast. We must make these communities more competitive and increase their ability to trade. We must restore the culture and lifestyles of their communities by increasing people’s ability to travel along HWY 101 between Horseshoe Bay and Powell River City at low cost. The best way to do this is to modernize the northern segment of HWY 101 between Horseshoe Bay and Powell River City by straightening and upgrading HWY 101 and transforming it into a modern road and bridge transportation corridor.
    This will require the construction of long expensive bridges. It is not economically prudent to do this. The current combinations of low wages and population sizes and distribution means tariffs to pay for the bridges would be out of reach. We can create more wage earners to both correct the population age imbalance and to pay for the required expensive bridges by a program to settle Nelson Island, which is at the mouth of the Jervis Inlet. An accelerated refugee program will do this. Canada is similar to Germany in that it has an aging population. This is very evident in Powell River. Like Germany we can help the refugees and help ourselves. Britain has recent experience dealing with a large influx of immigrants. They say immigrants settle-in faster when they are in large groups. They form new personal networks faster. This facilitates behaviour modeling and faster and better behaviour adaptation to new lifestyles and cultures.
    Refugee settlement on Nelson Island importantly mitigates against swamping the current life and culture of the communities with this necessary increase (say12,000, about 25% of current total population) in population. DIY refugees can first build their own homes and local administration buildings to create their own new community on Nelson Island. This creates jobs for them while they learn about Canadian cultures and lifestyles and learn employable skills to meet local demand. Both communities can help this process as Nelson Island is between them. It is mainly crown land with around 50 permanent residents.
    The use of a ‘Sustainability Charter- Lifestyle Charter’ (Powell River and Sunshine Coast respectively) based approach has big improvement in local economic benefits and most likely results in shorter over all implementation time. Such an approach needs a transitional stage. One with a low cost transitional bridge and ferry system to enable population build-up time. This solution uses the same roads as the desired road and bridge transport corridor system. The proposed study must enable discussion and collection of transitional low cost bridge information. An additional side study is required to collect planning information for the transitional ferries. There is a planned use for all transitional equipment when replaced by new high capacity bridges. This approach, though more complex to achieve, results in a ferry fare reduction of about 50% and service frequency tripled for less than the cost of one big bridge.

    It is in British Columbia’s and Canada’s best interests that metro-Vancouver becomes more competitive and grows. Forecasts are growth will accelerate in 2 years. The absence of low cost single family homes with easy access to the facilities of the city currently compromises its ability to grow and be more competitive. As soon as it is apparent there can be a new transport corridor with its ease of access to low cost single family homes from Vancouver there will be industry driven land speculation and construction activities. Better sustainable wealth generation distributed along the length of HWY 101 will result from a community Sustainability Charter-Lifestyle Charter based wealth generation approach which results in more money going into the pockets of the middle class.
    The Minister of Transport correctly says the study will address sustainable economic issues. Powell River and the Sunshine Coast need to focus on studying their sustainable wealth generation impact based on a Sustainability Charter. Wealth deals with all of its prime pillars (Economic, Environment and Culture & Life-style). Typically this different view of the issues changes the positions taken by our communities before and during the study. It is our own best interests not to only depend on a narrow economic study.
    We need bridge and road engineers to show us the best places to build bridges that will straighten out HWY 101. For Howe Sound draw a straight line between HWY 101 near Horseshoe bay and HWY 101 near Gibsons. This is the theoretical shortest distance between these two segments of HWY 101. Long bridges typically cost 100 times more to build than roads of similar length. It is economically prudent to build them at the shortest distances between the mainland and islands closest to this line. Initially it appears as though the best solution for Jervis Inlet is to put the bridges were BC Hydro strung (i.e. at the shortest distance between the two mainland segments and Nelson Island) their power lines. There is an option which I think will generate significant local benefits. This is to construct a new stretch of HWY 101 from Pender Harbour north then east as a more direct coastal road to Nelson Island. To create ‘a Tourist Loop’ a short road can connect the end of this new road to HWY 101 at Earle’s Cove. It is possible the shorter crossing to Nelson Island at this location will pay for a lot of the additional road cost. Given the desired bridge and road locations it is possible to fast track building the required roads to create local jobs.
    There is no way the locations and current population sizes of Powell River and the Sunshine Coast communities can generate traffic across these bridges at reasonable tariffs to pay for their construction. Say, for discussion; a $1 billion each for the long bridges from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island and then from Bowen Island to Keats Island and a short bridge say $600 million from Keats to near Gibsons. The Howe Sound crossing will cost $2.6 billion for three bridges. The cost of two bridges for the Jervis Inlet Crossing will be around $1.5 billion. For comparison the Port Mann Bridge, cost $2.3 billion and goes deeper into debt every year even with its higher traffic densities and tariffs. It clearly demonstrates our problem. Pragmatically it is indisputable that Powell River and the Sunshine Coast need to increase their populations as fast as possible in order to have a modern transportation corridor.
    I create two scenarios for discussions on what very different futures may unfold.

    This follows the classic urban sprawl model.
    Analysts say in 2 years’ time the economy of BC will grow significantly. This will create a bigger demand for family homes in metro-Vancouver. To meet this demand a developer, with deep pockets, says I will build a bridge to Bowen Island, which is only 25Km northwest of Vancouver compared to Langley at 39 Km. However, I will need lots of land on Bowen Island to build 3,000 houses for workers to create traffic across the bridge to help pay for it and for me to make enough additional money to make the project economically justified. A fifty year contract to collect tariffs across the bridge, similar to that for the Port Mann Bridge, will not suffice to make the profit I need. The economic benefits and job benefits, to the province in general, will result in government approval of the deal.
    In 50 years’ time when there is no tariff on this bridge the developer says I will build a similar bridge across to Keats Island with the same conditions. This is because paying two bridge tariffs for a single trip will not make economic sense to daily commuters.
    In another 50 years’ time when there is no tariff on the second bridge developers on the Sunshine Coast say we will build the small bridge to connect Keats Island to near Gibsons. Gibsons will be at the northern end of the Howe Sound Crossing. They call it the ‘Gateway to the Sunshine Coast’. As the crow flies it is only 16Km from Vancouver. After 100 years local Sunshine Coast businesses start to generate benefits and the existing ferry to Langdale becomes redundant. The small population of Powell River results in no work done on the two bridges for the Jervis Inlet Crossing after 100 years.
    This industry driven scenario creates immediate massive upfront debt which is difficult, because of large debt carrying costs and slow population build-up, to pay down. Such an approach immediately compromises the current culture and lifestyle on Bowen Island.

    This approach follows the advice of the French economist Thomas Piketty. He says we need to formulate new economic policies so as to benefit the middle class and increase their participation in wealth generation and mitigate against a few people getting most of the money as they currently do in Canada.
    It uses a manageable debt strategy. Let’s build up our population in specific locations where they exert maximum influence on bridge traffic and minimum influence on the culture and lifestyles of current communities while using a transitional low cost transport system.
    To keep tariffs and debts low, be pragmatic.
    Use short distance, around 2.2 Km, low cost ferries (say $25 million for a cable ferry and $35 million for a self-powered ferry) as a necessary transitional step for the three long high cost bridges. To be in accordance with our Sustainability Charter these should be electric powered. In this case we need grants to pay the added costs. We must keep ferry procurement and operating costs low.
    Use floating bridges, as used for over a decade in Norway, for the two short distance bridges as they are far less than half the cost of traditional bridge. Their elevated roadway allows all but very large pleasure craft to pass underneath their arches. We can build their concrete caissons locally and create more jobs.
    None of the transitional equipment needs to go to waste. It can be recycled as part of a similar very long term approach to connect Powell River (really Sarah’s Point near Lund – mile zero of HWY 101), via four islands to Prince Rupert.
    The best way to distribute economic development throughout all communities is to declare the new HWY 101 to be one contiguous highway corridor from Horseshoe Bay to Comox. To accelerate the rate of change and to distribute benefits there should be a requirement for tariffs only to get on and off this transportation corridor at these locations. Pay a tariff at Comox/Powell River link to go/off it. Pay a tariff at Horseshoe Bay/ Bowen Island link to go on/off it. Travel along the transportation corridor for the most northern segment of HWY 101 is to be free. We need to view this transport corridor as one system designed to meet our long term Sustainability Charter-based needs, not a series of isolated cost centers, individually cost justified, which is the current approach.
    To ensure a transport corridor that meets our needs we need a significant increase in our population. I do not want a sudden large influx of new residents destroy the culture and lifestyle of our communities. I moved to Powell River over a decade ago because of its natural beauty and its remarkable and rare culture and lifestyle. I lived in a modern townhouse complex in Richmond. It has vanished and replaced by a massive shopping mall. I lived in a single family home in White Rock. I could not find it because of development. Powell River needs new jobs and families but not on the scale required to justify the modern transport corridor we need.
    To reduce a hundred year time frame we can concurrently help ourselves and some of the 40 million refugees in the world. It will be possible to use Canada infra-structure funds to construct a new HWY 101 transport corridor. Other sources of additional funds become available when we offer to help refugees settle in places where they will both find peace and jobs, and provide maximum benefit to improve our economic sustainability endeavors.
    The Jervis Inlet crossing which is between the communities of Sechelt and Powell River, has Nelson Island, which has a very low population density and lots (around 97 square Km) of crown land. (Canada is the second biggest area country in the world and is 36th in population. Over 80% of its population is in cities. British Columbia has lots of crown land it can use to generate wealth). I suggest we give refugees free land when they come to live on it and build (DIY) their own homes and community buildings. Canada used this approach to stimulate early settlement. A world-wide problem with refugee settlement is the creation of jobs for them. The proposed approach results in them working hard building their homes and community structures while adapting to our culture and lifestyle and going through a skill development program. The main requirements for these DIY refugees is they will need have energy and stamina! The Economist suggests payment to refugees is superior to providing material and food. I can see the value in assigning a high priority to refugees from Syrian and Iraq. However we are a multicultural nation and this new community will benefit if other ‘normal refugees’ can participate as DIY refugees. England with its recent experience with large scale immigration, says that contrary to traditional belief immigrants settle better and faster when they are in large communities of people with similar problems and language. This facilitates the rapid establishment of personal communication networks. These result in faster behaviour modelling and adaptation to new lifestyles and cultures.
    This approach enables Powell River and Sechelt communities to divide the load to help refugees settle on Nelson Island without compromising their own communities’ culture and lifestyle. My suggestion is we consider a 10 year program with 1,200 refugees (about 300 homes) per year. (Which is 100 refugees- 25 homes per month). This creates a new community of some 12,000 people which is about ¼ of the total size of Powell River and Sunshine Coast communities. The army can build tent cities and a temporary floating bridge to Nelson Island to accelerate the DIY refugee program. We should use how men of vision settled Powell River over a hundred years ago as a settlement model. It produced good results.
    The combination of population build up from DIY refugees and traditional immigration/migration processes will significantly help us to meet our goal for a new low tariff transportation corridor.
    My data says the diverting the traffic from the Langdale ferry route to a new much shorter sea distance transport corridor route results in a 50% tariff reduction and a tripling of service levels for the transitional step.

    We now live in a technology driven, globalized, highly competitive world. Technology change results in massive wealth creation throughout the world. Technology change never acts on its own. The forces of people change and financial change always accompany it. Trade spreads technology change around the world. It is far less expensive and time consuming to adopt and adapt global technology change rather than to perform the original research development and testing for new technologies. This is important as we need to make our communities more competitive to enable them to trade overseas.
    It is important to obtain a basic understanding of the economic costs of when applying technology in a new situation. However one must then determine how adapt, by manipulating the three forces of change (technology, people and finance) while considering trade, the desired technology change in the context of a new complex situation. Many do not understand the processes required to do this important step correctly. Innovative transformative solutions result from the application of system-method techniques to this task in our highly complex world.
    A local community ‘Sustainability Charter-Lifestyle Charter’ based approach results in the end use of the same bridges but by a different process, to obtain very different wide-spread beneficial sustainable solutions. It necessitates information regarding the use of transitional bridges to be included in the proposed study. It needs an additional study to provide planning cost information for transitional ferries. More community effort is required to plan and make it happen compared to an industry driven approach. Planning for the future is hard work. Making it happen is hard but involves more people.
    We can both help refugees fleeing from war and help ourselves, in a combined effort to attain the goal of a modern transport corridor.

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