The West

Civic leaders rap Abbott road building madness

Civic leaders in Vancouver, which is often voted as the world's most livable city, have described Prime Minister Tony Abbott's preference to fund road construction ahead of public transport infrastructure as "a moment of madness".

Former British Columbia premier and former Vancouver mayor Mike Harcourt said Mr Abbott was a 20th century man living in the 21st century.

"It is completely opposite to the direction that the rest of the world is taking," he said. "It's not where successful cities are going.

"It's like looking in the rear-view mirror instead of straight ahead. It's nostalgic and an act of lunacy."

Mr Harcourt said cities like Vancouver had realised the gravity of a surging population and surging car use.

"Without taking drastic action, it is inevitable that cities will be hit with an urban tsunami," he said.

"With more than half the world's population living in cities, the current way of doing things in many cities is completely unsustainable.

"As a result of what Vancouver is doing - encouraging inner-city living and improving the public transport system - 76 per cent of people who work downtown don't drive to work.

"And 100,000 people are now living within a kilometre of the city."

Urban designer and former city councillor Gordon Price said Mr Abbott's decision to fund road building would be seen as a moment of madness.

Mr Price said future generations would ask -what was he thinking?

"His decision effectively commits future generations of Australians to massive car dependence," Mr Price said.

"And when the system fails - as it inevitably must - what's Plan B?

"We need politicians to be aspirational and to make decisions that will make our lives better. Spending money on new roads ahead of improved public transport is neither."

The West Australian

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