VANCOUVER – The City Council approved a $ 3.8 billion plan to extend a subway line to UBC along the Broadway corridor, but promised not to repeat the mistakes of the past when it comes to unbridled real estate speculation and business impact .
Funding is secured and planning is underway to build an extension of the Skytrain along the corridor from Commercial Drive to Arbutus St. which is expected to be until 2025. But the University of British Columbia, some business groups and the Mayor of Vancouver Kennedy Stewart want to extend all this. way to UBC. Stewart said the line for the UBC could be opened until 2030 with board endorsement.
"It's so important to have him with me when we are negotiating with high levels of government," Stewart told councilors as the vote was about to pass.
During the construction of the Canada Line, small businesses struggled and the Vancouver Metro Regional District highlighted a growing disconnect between the development of high-density condominiums near transit stations, which tend to be well outside the low- income that actually uses traffic.
But some advisors believe this project will be different.
"I am pleased that … we will be ensuring that we will be developing traffic-oriented development and that we will be developing equitable transit-oriented development," Coun. Pete Fry said before voting on the motion.
COPE Council. Jean Swanson and the NPA Coun. Colleen Hardwick opposed the extension to UBC. Swanson was concerned that he could evict thousands of tenants living in apartment blocks between Arbutus and UBC. "Everyone is vulnerable if the Skytrain passes," Swanson said.
Hardwick wants to see a traffic plan for the whole city, not just a corridor. "We should not put all the eggs in the Broadway basket."
A study commissioned by the city of Vancouver, UBC and TransLink estimates that it will cost between $ 3.3 and $ 3.8 billion to extend the line to UBC, compared with estimates of $ 1.7 to $ 3.2 billion for light-rail options.
Vancouver transport planners and the chief engineer told the council that studies done in 2012 and 2018 show that a Skytrain is the best option for the busy Broadway corridor where the B-line express buses get crowded every morning and night as students and workers make their way to and from the university. The university, which is rapidly building new condominium buildings, is vowing to contribute funding for the project, though it has not said much.
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Mayor Kennedy Stewart said the decision would put the bill in place for federal funding. Former city chief planner Brent Toderian also called for the council to move swiftly to take advantage of the provincial and federal governments that have prioritized funding for public transportation.
But a former COPE advisor and several Westside residents alerted the city council against rushing to endorse a Skytrain, raising fears that the underground line would be too expensive, would hurt local businesses, would lead to expensive condominiums in low-density neighborhoods, and would send too much. greenhouse gas during construction. They also said the council should not support the Skytrain before the municipal plan, which should last two years, has begun.
"It's shocking that you're being asked to make a decision so quickly," said Anne Roberts, a former COPE advisor who spoke as a private citizen, not on behalf of the party. "Of course we want to improve traffic to UBC … But it's up to you, as city council, to give yourself the time to do the due diligence."
Roberts and several of the speakers preferred a light rail transit system.
Toderian is a fan of light rails like the CTrain system of Calgary. But he said that studies show that a street level rail system would quickly reach capacity, even if the city considered a second LRT line along 41st Avenue. to UBC to relieve pressure on the Broadway corridor.
"The best tool for the job is my favorite transit option," said Toderian. "The numbers are irrefutable – Skytrain is the right solution."
While Roberts asked the council to take his time, city engineering manager Jerry Dobrovolny said the Metro Vancouver area has been very slow on new fast-track projects. Approving a rapid transit project for a decade is not keeping pace with regional growth, Dobrovolny said.
Jen St. Denis is a Vancouver-based reporter covering accessibility and city hall. Follow her on Twitter: @jenstden