By Jeff Nagel Black Press
Sep 16 2007
A behind-the-scenes battle over which part of Metro Vancouver should get the next rapid transit line has just broken wide open.
Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan announced Friday he’ll begin a formal lobbying campaign to promote a proposed extension of the Millennium SkyTrain line west along Broadway, first to Arbutus and eventually to UBC.
He said the heavily congested Broadway corridor is a nightmare for bus users and needs to become the region’s next top priority after the planned $1-billion Evergreen Line.
Although Sullivan has not officially sought to leap-frog the West Broadway extension past the planned light rail line to Port Moody and Coquitlam, his move has angered Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini.
“The announcement of their lobbying is ill-timed, premature and it will give senior levels of government the opportunity to divide and conquer,” he said.
Trasolini said Vancouver needs the Broadway extension, but should have waited until all funding is in place for the Evergreen Line.
The project has $400 million committed by TransLink and $170 million from the province. Nothing yet has come from Ottawa but Victoria has indicated more contributions will come to bridge the shortfall.
A review of how the project may work as a public-private partnership is underway.
Trasolini said Vancouver’s campaign will give senior governments the chance to point at the two expensive projects and question which should proceed.
“They can say ‘You guys can’t get your act together. You’re looking for more Evergreen Line funding but you’re also looking for more money for a line in Vancouver. Get your act together.’”
The Evergreen Line, long the top regional priority, has been bypassed twice before — first by the Millennium Line and then by the Canada Line — both times because senior governments favoured other routes.
“It looks like history is repeating itself,” Trasolini fumed.
Northeast sector cities east of Burnaby are supposed to take much of Metro Vancouver’s future growth, but that depends heavily on the rapid transit line.
Port Moody council has blocked all major development approvals since March — freezing projects worth $2 billion — and Trasolini vows that will continue until the Evergreen Line is approved.
“The Livable Region Strategic Plan told us to grow, grow, grow,” he said. “We have grown under the promise of a rapid transit line.”
He said that growth will continue to “grind to a halt” putting increased development pressure on the rest of Metro Vancouver.
Vancouver directors on TransLink persuaded the board in June to start spending money to study the Broadway extension.
TransLink has estimated a Millennium Line extension as far as Cambie, to tie in with the Canada Line, would cost $400 million.
What type of line would run further west on Broadway is undetermined.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said Sullivan is “dreaming in technicolour” to think there is even enough money for Evergreen let alone Broadway.
He said Vancouver is wrong to divert attention away from the northeast sector priority.
Corrigan also argues that the province must put much more money on the table.
“The provincial government is down from formally taking care of 100% of these rapid transit lines to funding less than 20%,” he said.
“There’s no way the property tax payer or TransLink can afford another expensive tunnelled line in Vancouver.”