City of Vancouver proposes UBC SkyTrain route for Jericho Lands Station

Mar 23 2022, 9:08 pm

Staff with the City of Vancouver are asking Vancouver City Council to formally support a route of the UBC SkyTrain Extension that reaches Jericho Lands for an on-site station.

In a new report that will be discussed and voted on by city council next week, city staff are recommending that the Millennium Line continue along West Broadway from the 2025-built Arbutus Station, with further stations at Macdonald Street and Alma Street.

West of Alma Street Station, the SkyTrain would follow West 8th Avenue, travelling through the West Point Grey single-family neighbourhood, to reach Jericho Lands.

Currently, the municipal government and the Jericho Lands development owners — local First Nations and federal crown corporation Canada Lands Company — are proposing to situate the Jericho Lands Station near the core of the 90-acre site, within the northeast quadrant of the sprawling, largely undeveloped property.

City staff state Jericho Lands Station would eliminate the previously assumed potential station at Sasamat Street, which is currently served by a 99 B-Line stop.

ubc skytrain jericho lands station

Potential detour of the UBC SkyTrain Extension to enable Jericho Lands Station. (City of Vancouver)

“Initial analysis indicated that a Jericho Station performs better than a Sasamat Station across strategic objectives. A Jericho Lands station offers opportunities for future development of Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation lands and integration of a new community with rapid transit, ensuring the greatest number of people and jobs are in close proximity to the station,” reads the city staff report.

“A station within the Jericho Lands would also allow for connections beyond the site, including to nearby West Point Grey Village, as well as improved access to beaches as a regional destination, not previously served with robust transit.”

In October 2021, as part of the process of creating the Jericho Lands Policy Statement, the proponents and the city unveiled a draft concept for the redevelopment of the former military base in West Point Grey. There could be up to 10 million sq ft of floor area, including 9,000 homes for up to 18,000 people, and about one million sq ft of office, retail, restaurant, and institution space.

Planners and proponents for the Jericho Lands have envisioned an on-site SkyTrain station, located within the northwest quadrant of the sloped site — where significant office and cultural spaces are currently proposed.

jericho lands vancouver concept plan

Option 1 Eagle concept for Jericho Lands. (MST Development Corporation/Canada Lands Company)

jericho lands vancouver concept plan

Option 2 Weave concept for Jericho Lands. (MST Development Corporation/Canada Lands Company)

Additionally, city staff state bringing the Millennium Line route to the Jericho Lands could provide more opportunities for SkyTrain construction staging and space needed for rail infrastructure, such as crossover tracks. It would also minimize construction disruption in the neighbourhood, as opposed to the previous assumption that the Millennium Line would directly transition between West Broadway and West 10th Avenue in the vicinity of Alma Street.

Between Jericho Lands Station and Blanca Street, the Millennium Line would transition back to West 10th Avenue briefly, before reaching University Boulevard west of Blanca Street — the westernmost border of the City of Vancouver — and into the University Endowment Lands (UEL) towards the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus.

The city also highlights that TransLink is considering a potential future station location within the UEL to serve the future possible redevelopment of University Golf Club, which is owned by the Musqueam. But a 2008 covenant on the golf course with the provincial government requires the First Nation to retain the property for golf course uses until at least 2083.

TransLink’s updated planning details released earlier this week state they are evaluating possible route options and station locations, including station options at either the Jericho Lands or near Sasamat Street, a potential future infill station within the vicinity of the UEL, a potential second station within the UBC campus to the south near Wesbrook Village, and the potential for where the train guideway could be elevated along University Boulevard.

ubc skytrain map march 2022 version

March 21, 2022 updated UBC SkyTrain Extension route and alignment planning map. (TransLink)

According to the city, in 2021, TransLink’s Mayors’ Council approved TransLink’s Municipal Contributions Policy Framework, which states elevated guideways for SkyTrain projects are the “baseline,” unless it can be proven that it is “not technically or functionally possible” to build an elevated track.

City staff state West Broadway west of Arbutus Street is narrower than the Millennium Line subway section east of Arbutus Street, and therefore an alignment of the route that is elevated along West Broadway is deemed not feasible.

In addition to approving the recommendation for the reroute to accommodate Jericho Lands Station, city staff are also asking city council to endorse a new heightened level of planning for transit-oriented development around the stations, in a way that plans for deep integration — immediately adjacent or above station entrance buildings —  well in advance during the SkyTrain extension’s project planning phase.

“Achieving integration can be challenging; the design development process by partner agencies (TransLink and the Province) creates station design reference concepts early in the process that typically set the project funding envelope. Once the envelope is set and the projects reach detailed design development stages and move into construction phases, it is much more difficult, and often too late, to make significant changes which would enable overbuild and station integration,” reads the city staff report.

“When not contemplated in the early stages of a project, development over the stations can be complex and add significant costs to building construction. This could mean that development integrated with the station is delayed or opportunities are missed altogether.”

It should be noted that these municipal policy directions, if approved by city council, will only be recommendations to TransLink, which will weigh the varying benefits and costs of the UBC SkyTrain Extension route and alignment options.

A UBC SkyTrain Extension pre-business case design development study is currently in the process of being finalized, which is led by TransLink, in partnership with the municipal government, UBC, UEL, the three First Nations, and the provincial government’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Housing.

After city council’s endorsement, TransLink will present a UBC SkyTrain report to the Mayors’ Council, with a goal of selecting a preferred route and station locations. It will also be considered for inclusion for priority implementation in TransLink’s upcoming new 10-year vision under the approved Transport 2050 framework.

translink transport 2050 rapid transit

Transport 2050’s approved rapid transit expansion plan, which includes the UBC SkyTrain Extension. Click on the image for a large version. (TransLink)

If the Mayors’ Council includes UBC SkyTrain in the new 10-year vision, project progress timelines will then be established for the next phase of design and planning, including advancing route concepts into further design work and creating a business case.

In July 2021, the federal and provincial governments each committed to cover 40% of the cost of the detailed planning and business case work for UBC SkyTrain, with the remaining 20% expected to be covered by TransLink. The public transit authority previously estimated the business case work would carry a cost of between $30 million and $40 million.

The business case enables TransLink and the Mayors’ Council to pursue provincial and federal funding to cover the project’s multi-billion dollar construction costs.

Public consultation on the new 10-year vision is expected to be conducted between April and May 2022, with a decision to be made by the Mayors’ Council in Summer 2022. If approved and funding is provided, business case work entailing formulating detailed plans would begin after July 2022.

Other major projects expected to be considered for inclusion by the Mayors’ Council in the new 10-year vision include the North Shore SkyTrain project and the Burnaby Mountain Gondola serving Simon Fraser University’s main campus.

A Spring 2021 survey conducted by TransLink found that 92% of Metro Vancouver residents support the extension of SkyTrain to UBC.


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