Opinion-Editorial: 679 words


By Michael McBratney, Get Moving BC Advisory Board Member


Burnaby Mayor Derrick Corrigan was notably absent from the recent announcement of a $14 billion transit plan for B.C.  To be fair, he wasn't invited.  But that's not surprising considering the antagonistic stance he's taken on the province's other transportation improvement projects here in the Lower Mainland; for example, the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and the improvement of Highway 1.  

I would really like to know how Mayor Corrigan's antagonistic stance serves the people of Burnaby?  The majority of Burnaby residents are actually in favour of twinning the Port Mann Bridge and widening Highway 1, and I suspect they also support the new transit plan.

In attempting to justify his stance against the Gateway project, Mayor Corrigan has gone to some fairly extreme lengths, including having City Staff draft a report - using very questionable methodology - that states that 87 percent of Burnaby's citizens are opposed to the Gateway project.  So how far will he go to justify his stance against the new transit plan?  

Last September, we at Get Moving BC decided to challenge the City's claim that 87 percent of the people in Burnaby opposed the Gateway project.  We commissioned NRG Research Group - a leading North American public opinion and market research company - to scientifically gauge the level of support among Burnaby residents for twinning the Port Mann Bridge and widening Highway 1. 

NRG Research interviewed 300 randomly selected Burnaby residents and discovered that 72 percent of the people in Burnaby support the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and the widening Highway 1, with only 21 percent opposed and 8 percent who did not have an opinion. The full NRG report is available on our website at www.GetMovingBC.com.
The question that really needs to be asked, then, is how the City of Burnaby and the Mayor can claim there is "strong (87%) opposition to the Port Mann / Highway 1 project" in Burnaby when a professionally conducted poll showed that only 21 percent oppose the project?
As it turns out, the City's claim is based on an unscientific, non-random, online questionnaire posted on the City's website and circulated at a shopping mall and a Burnaby library.  The City's questionnaire consisted of eleven 'statements' about the Gateway project worded in such a way that it would be nearly impossible to disagree with these statements.  
In total, the City of Burnaby received 154 responses to their questionnaire, with only 65 of these responses actually came from residents of Burnaby.  A full 63 of the responses came from Vancouver residents, with 5 each coming from Surrey and New Westminster, 4 from North Vancouver, 3 from Coquitlam, 2 from Port Moody and 1 each from 7 other municipalities. 
Burnaby staff then assigned "a score" to each questionnaire based upon a "cumulative response" to the eleven 'survey' questions.  And based upon this questionable measure, they decided that 87 percent of Burnaby's residents were opposed to the Gateway project and were therefore supportive of the anti-Gateway position taken by Mayor Corrigan and his majority on Burnaby City Council. 

And as absurd as it may seem considering Mayor Corrigan's vocal opposition to the Gateway project, the City's questionnaire never even asked whether the respondents supported or opposed the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and the widening of Highway 1.  

When it comes to speaking out against the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and the widening of Highway 1, Mayor Corrigan clearly does not speak for the people of Burnaby.  The evidence does not support the stance he has taken.  And considering the positive reception the public and the media have given to the new transit plan, the same can very likely be said for Mayor Corrigan's negative assessment of the $14 Billion Transit Plan. 

Get Moving BC supports a balanced transportation system for the Lower Mainland, one that maintains the prosperity of our region and its liveability.  We believe the majority of Burnaby's citizens also support a balanced transportation system and, in our opinion, Mayor Corrigan is clearly way out of synch with the people of Burnaby on this issue.  

Michael McBratney, Burnaby
For Get Moving BC