At the age of 32 years old, University of British Columbia graduate Gavin Dew would become the youngest member in the 85-seat B.C. Legislature, where there are currently only three people who are under 40 years old.
Dew, who is the B.C. Liberal party’s candidate for the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant riding byelection, says he will actively advocate for the construction of the Broadway Subway if elected into office on February 2.
“The Broadway Subway is really important for Mount Pleasant and all of Vancouver,” Dew told Vancity Buzz. “It’s actually a priority I have been working on for more than 10 years, ever since I was a student at UBC when I first started working on improving Broadway transit.”
It would cost approximately $2 billion to complete the five station, six-kilometre-long extension under the Broadway Corridor from the existing VCC-Clark Station terminus. Proponents of the project anticipate it will attract 200,000 riders upon opening, and the numbers could be even greater if the scope of the line is extended all the way to the UBC campus.
Rail rapid transit along the route would serve not only people commuting to UBC but also Central Broadway, the second largest employment centre in the region outside of the downtown peninsula. The same corridor is already North America’s busiest bus route with over 100,000 daily riders, and demand for a long-term solution to transit service will only increase as region’s population grows and the area densifies.
Dew is aligned with the Mayors’ Council vision by maintaining that any extension must at least reach Arbutus.
“That gap between VCC-Clark and Cambie is an important gap that we need to fill so that our east-west rapid transit (Expo and Millennium lines) connects with our north-south rapid transit (Canada Line),” said Dew.
Of course, any push on transit expansion comes on the heels of last year’s failed transit referendum when 62 per cent of approximately 800,000 voters said they were against a half per cent regional sales tax increase to help fund investments on transit.
Under the one-third funding model heavily utilized by Stephen Harper’s government, each level of government is required to commit a third of the cost of a capital infrastructure project. But this has proved to be challenging for local municipalities with the failure of the plebiscite, which would have generated $2.5 billion over 10 years – the revenue needed to cover the municipal share of the complete $7.5 billion transit plan.
Dew says the circumstances have changed since the plebiscite was undertaken as the newly elected federal Liberal government has committed to build both the Broadway Subway and rapid transit in Surrey. About $20 billion over 10 years has been set aside by Prime Minister Justin Trudeua for public transit projects across the country, and there have been indications that his government is ready to go beyond the traditional one-third funding model, which could potentially help cover a portion of the missing municipal share.
This would be on top of the provincial government’s long-promised one-third contribution towards the project. The missing municipal share – through TransLink – is the largest obstacle for getting construction started.
“I think we have a unique moment and we need to strike while the iron is hot,” he said. “And it’s because we have a newly elected federal government that campaigned on building infrastructure – and specifically on building transit infrastructure.”
“They have specified shovel-ready projects that will have a positive effect on stimulating the economy. Shovel-ready projects are the first priority for them, so the Broadway Line is definitely the right kind of priority in that kind of context.”
Dew claims his opponent, the NDP’s Melanie Mark, has not expressed any interest in ensuring the Broadway extension is built.
“That’s why I think it’s so important that we have an MLA at the table representing East Vancouver who will push this as aggressively as I will to get this done.”
“I think we need stronger representation from young professionals, young entrepreneurs, young families, and millennials who have a unique set of issues that we are dealing with it. And transit is absolutely one of those issues.”