Can John Baird save Vancouver from “Total Gridlock”?

The arrival of the federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities John Baird in Vancouver — and his musings about stimulus spending in the form of infrastructure projects from coast to coast — has captivated a number of special interest groups locally.

This includes Get Moving BC, an organization that has made some waves for its aggressive support of the B.C. government’s Gateway program — and the controversial bridge-building that goes with it.

Here’s what they had to say in a news release issued this week:

Get Moving BC spokesperson Michael McBratney says he’s pleased to hear that Minister Baird is talking about accelerating the Evergreen Line and says Get Moving BC fully supports such stimulus spending on transportation projects – not only for the immediate social and economic benefits they bring but also for the long term benefits.

“The province has made a great start modernizing our transportation infrastructure with projects like the Pitt River Bridge, the Canada Line and theGolden Ears Bridge,” McBratney says. “But now we have the opportunity to stimulate the economy and catch up on some of our other badly-needed transportation projects at the same time.”

McBratney says several economists have recently indicated that public dollars spent on infrastructure like roads, bridges and transit systems, among other forms of public infrastructure, provide the best return on investment when it comes to stimulating the economy during a recession.

Get Moving BC, you’ll recall, released a study in September which predicted “total gridlock” in Metro Vancouver if “steps are not taken to correct the bridge infrastructure gap due to a rapidly expanding population south of the Fraser River.”

Needless to say, it’s a sentiment that is not universally embraced on either side of the Port Mann Bridge.

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