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Editorial: Our traffic problem is also our housing problem

Traffic will never get better while we send our workforce to live in the Fraser Valley
Jay Porter, project manager for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and District of North Vancouver engineer Erin Moxon look out on the Highway 1 interchanges from Mountain Highway. | Mike Wakefield / North Shore News files

The time it takes to commute down The Cut in the mornings has dropped significantly since the Lower Lynn Improvement Project was completed in 2021, a study by the province has found. But the notorious afternoon rush hour has been much harder to dent, with “minimal” changes showing in the study’s data.

After years of construction and more than $200-million spent, the before-and-after study may feel like cold comfort for a traffic-frustrated community.

While the report may tell us how much faster we can drive on our highway, it does not explain why so many people are cramming onto it in the first place.

The answer to that question is alluded to in another story we bring you this week: While Metro Vancouver has seen its population grow by 150 per cent since 2001, the North Shore’s municipalities have been laggards, especially the districts of North Vancouver and West Vancouver, where the population grew by 13.8 and 11 per cent respectively.

Working-age people are flocking to areas where it’s more affordable to live and where new housing has been available to them. By letting so many slip away to the Fraser Valley instead of making room for them here, we have, at least in part, brought this on ourselves.

Of course, there are calls to widen Highway 1 and build a bigger bridge, but before we spend another few billion trying to accommodate single-occupancy cars, we must first correct our housing mistakes of the past, which underlie the problem.

Given the choice, we would much rather share our neighbourhoods with our workforce than share only our highway with them.

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