Where Vancouver's mayoral candidates stand on the Broadway Subway to UBC

Oct 17 2018, 10:21 pm

There’s universal support amongst the top four mayoral candidates running in the Vancouver civic election for the Broadway Subway up to Arbutus Street, but when it comes to the possible future extension beyond Arbutus Street the opinions differ slightly.

Funding has been completely secured for the Millennium Line’s extension from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street, and construction on this project – deemed the first phase of the Broadway Rapid Transit Project – is set to begin in 2020 for an opening in 2025.

At the moment, one of the candidates is ambivalent about extending the Millennium Line past Arbutus Street, and the remaining candidates have varying strategies and positions with funding this second phase.

Staff with the City of Vancouver and UBC officials recently expressed their absolute support for a tunnelled SkyTrain extension being the only suitable option for the final stretch to UBC.

Here is a rundown of the various Broadway Extension to UBC positions of the major candidates and parties in the 2018 Vancouver civic election:

Hector Bremner (YES Vancouver)

Extend the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street: Yes

Extend the Millennium Line from Arbutus Street to UBC: Yes

Platform:

Yes Vancouver’s Hector Bremner wants the underground Millennium Line extension fully extended to UBC in one phase instead of the current two-phase plan.

He emphasizes the densification along the Broadway Corridor, specifically the Vancouver Westside, can be used to help fund the cost of building the project.

The subway will provide the infrastructure required to accommodate more housing in the Vancouver Westside, given that 25% of the landmass of this part of the city has absorbed just 2% of the city’s population growth over the past three decades.

“World-class transit is built around the world in empirical and non-debatable ways by building near the transit lines and using that equity to invest back into them,” he said. “It is a proven model… and it is how you get UBC and the Musqueam First Nation on board.”

Ken Sim (Non-Partisan Association)

Extend the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street: Yes

Extend the Millennium Line from Arbutus Street to UBC: No

Platform:

Non-Partisan Association (NPA) candidate Ken Sim supports the subway extension, but only up to Arbutus Street. He has reservations about continuing it further west of Arbutus Street to UBC.

“We’re going to listen to people. If UBC and TransLink both say they have a plan and are ready and support it, then we’ll also support it,” he said.

“The next phase does not include the extension to UBC, and this is the phase we are funding right now…. If we’re going to make a $3.5 billion to $6 billion investment, we’re going to need support from all the stakeholders.”

But there is also a split in opinion within the party, with one NPA councillor candidate proposing street-level LRT on a completely different route for the entire project.

Kennedy Stewart (independent)

Extend the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street: Yes

Extend the Millennium Line from Arbutus Street to UBC: Yes

Platform:

Independent candidate Kennedy Stewart believes the municipal government needs to be highly active in lobbying senior governments to support the extension beyond Arbutus Street to UBC.

He says the municipality and the region need to work together and provide a unified pitch to receive funding for the project soon.

“If there is any money that is going to be unlocked, it will be in the pre-election federal budget early next year,” he said. “If we waffle, the federal money will go to Toronto and Montreal. If you want to build it, you got to be clear that you want it.”

Shauna Sylvester (independent)

Extend the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street: Yes

Extend the Millennium Line from Arbutus Street to UBC: Yes

Platform:

Shauna Sylvester, who is an independent, blames elected officials within the City of Vancouver for why the subway is not being built to UBC in just one phase. She says the project is a “no brainer.”

During her time as the lead convenor for Moving in a Livable Region initiative in advance of the 2015 transit plebiscite, Sylvester says there was a plan to bring the Millennium Line all the way to UBC, but politics got in the way.

“The reason we didn’t get it out in one phase is because the City of Vancouver kept coming to the table over and over again with a Vancouver-centric perspective rather than having a regional perspective. City staff got it, but politically we didn’t get it, so we didn’t play well with the Mayors’ Council,” she said.

“The federal government and provincial governments know there is an ask coming, and UBC has made it clear that they want to make it happen and made money offer. Musqueam is also interested.”

She called UBC a “super important innovation driver” in the city and noted that “you don’t just leave an innovation centre out there by itself. It’s an economic development opportunity, as much as it is about getting people in and out.”

 

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