About a hundred community members rallied in opposition to a six-lane Pattullo Bridge and in support of transit enhancements for Surrey.
The June 23 rally started at Sapperton Park and proceeded to Sapperton Pensioners Hall, where TransLink was holding an open house about the Pattullo Bridge replacement project.
"It went really well," said Karla Olson, one of the rally's organizers. "There were about 90 people."
Olson said TransLink representatives seemed a bit surprised when the crowd showed up at the hall, but welcomed them into the open house. The sound of kids with noisemakers alerted TransLink officials of the group's arrival at the open house.
While TransLink officials gave their guests a "warm welcome" and invited them to take part in the process, Olson isn't sure their input will have an effect on the outcome.
"I got the sense they were respond-ing in an appropriate communications response in that they are listening," she said. "I am not confident that anything will change."
New Westminster resident Patrick Johnstone said people attending several public forums have made it clear there's a "near unanimous" view that the increase in traffic that would result from the larger Pattullo Bridge cannot be accommodated in New Westminster and would have severe impacts on the livability of the city.
The June 23 rally was organized by a grassroots group comprised of community members from both sides of the Fraser River.
Supporters include New Westminster Environ- mental Partners, Surrey Citizens Transportation Initiative and New Westminster school trustees Jonina Campbell and David Phelan, who said the rally was an opportunity to demonstrate the range of people who are concerned about the impact of traffic on local communities and the lack of transportation choices and proper public consultation.
"We need to put transit first when it comes to TransLink resources," said Steve Burke, spokesperson for the Surrey Citizens Transportation Initiative. "There is no division between our communities about the basics; global warming and the end of cheap oil means we need to focus on improving transit instead of roadway expansion for cars and trucks."
Reena Meijer Drees, president of New Westminster Environmental Partners, said it's critical to give people south of the Fraser River mobility options other than the automobile.
Johnstone said that Surrey residents have been clamoring for more transit infrastructure, and TransLink has been claim-ing poverty, but it still wants to move forward with plans to spend $1 billion on infrastructure for cars.
Rally organizers col-lected more than 75 letters from people who want to TransLink to take action to avoid a car-dependent future and to express concern about the "tremen-dous strain" a six-lane bridge would have on the region.
A copy of the full letter can be found at www. nwep.ca.