Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Representing the City, or Just Embarrassing?

At a meeting of the Urban Design Advisory Group last week, Vancouver’s incumbent Mayor once again embarrassed the city he is supposed to represent. The group was discussing bike/pedestrian facilities on the proposed I-5 river crossing, and had an intense debate about the bike lane’s location and quality.

In Columbian reporter Jeff Mize’s April 18 story about the meeting, Portland Mayor Sam Adams expressed valid concerns about the bike path. It’s already been agreed that any new bridge needs to have “world-class” bike and pedestrian facilities—which is entirely sensible for our active, outdoorsy population (a population that lives on BOTH sides of the river). This is a matter that deserves debate and discussion, and it would be a mistake to brush it aside—especially if the current “stacked” plan would make the bridge a haven for vagrants and criminals. However, brushing it off is precisely what Vancouver’s incumbent Mayor did.

In response to Adams’s concern about a decision-making process that led to the stacked option without looking closely at others, Pollard quipped: "Sometimes I'm not sure what the hell 'world-class' means.”

There isn’t much that the incumbent gets right these days – but he nailed that one.

Vancouver needs a Mayor that does understand the concept of world-class, and who is ready to work in partnership with others to find solutions. The Columbia River Crossing project is on thin ice – and Pollard is pushing it forward relentlessly, with little concern for making sure that every choice is the right choice, no regard for the costs that taxpayers will end up bearing, and no respect for the collaborative process that this project will have to be in order for anything to get done. If this continues, the entire project is doomed to failure, and we simply cannot let that happen.

One of the reasons I am running for Mayor is because I have a proven history of “playing well with others,” and I am determined to bring this project back into focus and take a hard look at needs and costs so that we build the right bridge for the future, and for a price that we can afford.