Conservative platform does not prioritize SkyTrain extensions to UBC and Langley

Oct 15 2019, 3:18 pm

If the Conservative Party sweeps into office with a clear mandate after next week’s federal election, there could be some uncertainty with Metro Vancouver’s highly-sought SkyTrain extension projects.

The Conservatives announced last week the federal Liberal government’s $187-billion Investing In Canada infrastructure program will be retained, but with an extended implementation timeline of 15 years instead of 12 years to help balance the budget.

A handful of specific public transit infrastructure investments have been highlighted by Andrew Scheer’s party as key priorities for funding, however, both projects are located in Toronto — namely, the 7.4-km-long Yonge Subway Extension and the 15-km-long Ontario Line, totalling a combined $16.5 billion in construction costs.

While the platform includes two other specific transportation infrastructure funding commitments in other areas of the country, none are public transit projects.

The platform would prioritize the George Massey Tunnel replacement between Richmond and Delta, but the project is currently in the very preliminary stages of planning. The previous 10-lane bridge project did not require federal funding, as tolls would have been used to help cover the costs.

Another identified priority by the Conservatives is a new road link across the St. Lawrence River between Quebec City and Levis.

No specific funding allocations have been committed if the Conservatives were to be elected as the governing party.

Additional federal funding totalling billions are needed to help cover the cost of the Mayors’ Council’s Phase Three transit expansion plan, entailing big project items such as a full 16-km-long extension of the SkyTrain Expo Line on Fraser Highway to reach Langley Centre, as well as the seven-km-long extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line between Arbutus Street and UBC.

TransLink currently has funding to complete a seven-km-long segment of the Expo Line Fraser Highway extension reaching Fleetwood from $1.6 billion in funding previously allocated towards the Surrey Newton-Guildford LRT. Another $1.5 billion is needed to complete the full extension to Langley Centre, which can be completed by 2025 if both the federal and provincial governments can commit to the required funding by next year.

Construction will begin on the Millennium Line Broadway Extension between VCC-Clark Station and Arbutus Street in Fall 2020 using $2.8 billion in previously secured funding. An additional $2.8 billion to $3.2 billion, in 2018 dollars, is needed to complete the second stage extension of the Millennium Line reaching UBC.

The NDP and Greens have committed to more public transit funding, but without committing on specific projects.

The Mayors’ Council’s Cure Congestion initiative has been campaigning for stable, predictable annual federal funding for public transit projects instead of having to seek funding for individual projects, but so far the parties have been, at best, generally lukewarm to the idea. The Liberals, NDP, and Greens have committed to this predictable funding, but the Conservatives have not.