Roads Are For Hockey returns for a 3rd period
“Come One, Come All and Bring Yer Stick,” reads Charlie Latimer’s invitation to the community who together on Feb. 18 shut down a block of Commercial Drive and played road hockey – periodically yelling “bus!” and moving aside to avoid disruption to public transit.
This third annual “Roads Are For Hockey” event drew in about 20 players and 200 spectators who lined the sides of Vancouver’s Commercial Drive between Charles and William Streets, which were blockaded by supportive police leaning on their shiny Harleys in the sun. Organizers held the event to raise awareness of the British Columbia government's $4-billion Gateway project – widening of Highway 1 between East Vancouver and Langley and twinning of the Port Mann Bridge. The first road hockey event was held in 2005 when the Gateway project was announced. It also helped to ease the pain of a public suffering from hockey deprivation during the 2005 NHL strike.
Despite claims by the government that the expansion will reduce fuel emissions by keeping cars moving instead of idling, critics such as the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) say the expansion will actually increase emissions by 31 percent.
Charlie says local dailies The Metro and 24 Hours covered the day’s event, along with Global TV, and CKNW radio. I asked him what he told them.
“I said it was a community event. It’s to show how citizens can take part in the fight against climate change by raising awareness to their politicians – telling them, for example, the Gateway project is not something we want to see. Global was talking about the Port Mann Bridge and the Gateway expansion and they asked me what I thought of the government saying that by reducing congestion it would stop idling and would actually be environmentally-friendly – which was actually the green spin they presented – and I just told them that: ‘Well, with any highway expansion project, you’ll find that cars will fill those streets and congestion will come back in a year, so then you’ll just have double the idling. Create more roads and more cars will come basically.’”
Information against this project can be found at gatewaysucks.org – and to be “fair,” here is some, a-hem, info for the project from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Highways.
While the message was undoubtedly important to the grown-ups, kids like my son Toby were mostly focused on the fun – and what a fun bit of chaos it was. With no one keeping score, every goal was pretty exciting! On the way home, my sweaty six-year-old carried his stick with pride – fielding questions from passers-by. One person asked if the game was organized into teams.
“Well, there were two teams but we didn’t know who was on each team. So it was pretty hard to know who to pass the ball to!” Toby explained.
Charlie says we can expect an overtime game – probably some time in September. He urges more folks to take over their own roads and bring awareness to the importance of avoiding more traffic in our neighbourhoods.
“I think more people should do them. I think it’s important for the neighbourhood. It’s important for people growing up there and it’s just important for people to take action on things that matter,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of cars, myself and I’ve always thought it’s really important to kind of make a vision or show people what it could be like because a lot of times you talk about things and people can’t get a picture in their head. I think this is a really good way of doing that. You stop the cars and all of a sudden you realize how much quieter and more liveable the block becomes and you can actually have a conversation.”