Letter: Bill Bennett’s ambition and foresight needed today

The B.C. and feds (should) reinstate Canada as a member of the Bureau of International Expositions…reneged on by the Conservatives.

To the editor:

Today’s political leaders would do well to take lessons from the ambition and responsible foresight of Bill Bennett.

With only a little political effort, the incalculably positive derivative benefits to Greater Vancouver, and to B.C. and Canada generally, resulting from the province hosting Expo 86 and the building of Metro Vancouver’s Skytrain rapid transit lines could be replicated in B.C.’s second largest city (by population): Surrey.

The industrial park-wasteland of northwest Surrey—where the city borders New Westminster and the Fraser River—would be ideal as a World Exposition site.

Afterwards, this area could be suitably re-developed as mixed-use highrises and parkland emulating Vancouver’s downtown business district, Yaletown and Coal Harbour areas, thereby acting to reduce the region’s housing shortage and, hopefully, attracting corporate head office clients—along with high technology design, and research and development firms.

Bill Bennett would never have accepted the “lowest common denominator,” as cheap-as-possible, at-roadway-level rapid transit system that is currently proposed for much of Surrey: Effectively, buses travelling on rails that have been run along already very busy roadways.

The ambitious foresight criteria so often associated with Bill Bennett would demand a city-wide rapid transit system for Surrey that will be perceived internationally as a world beater, and certainly no worse than the 30-year-old, but still excellent, above-the-roadway Skytrain.

The first step towards the above would be for the B.C. government to work with the new federal government to reinstate Canada as a member of the Bureau of International Expositions—the body that awards international expositions to individual countries—by paying the $25,000 annual fee that the previous Conservative government reneged on, starting in 2012.

Following this, on behalf of the city of Surrey, working with the federal government, B.C. should submit a bid for a future International Exposition.

Ridiculous? Impossible? Insurmountable?

Maybe that’s what some would have thought in the 1980s.

Bill Bennett, and other leaders of his time, clearly didn’t and we are all beneficiaries today as a result.

Praises for Bill Bennett need to be matched by actions.

Roderick V. Louis, White Rock