Municipal planners and officials of Metro Vancouver’s two largest municipalities are likely very disappointed today, after the federal government’s decision to pass on a joint bid to build new driverless shuttle routes in both cities.
Earlier this spring, the City of Vancouver and City of Surrey submitted their formal bid book plans in pursuit of Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge top prize of securing $50 million for an innovative urban project.
However, after nearly two years of planning, both cities lost the bid to the City of Montreal, which will now have $50 million to advance its plan to improve mobility and access to food.
Other cities shortlisted for the top $50 million prize category include Edmonton, Quebec City, and Waterloo.
For the other award categories, the Town of Bridgewater in Nova Scotia secured the $5-million prize for its proposal to reduce energy poverty and Nunavut Communities in Nunavut won the $10 million prize for its proposal to use a life promotion approach to suicide prevention.
The City of Guelph and Wellington County in Ontario took the $10 million prize for its proposal to create a circular food economy, beating the City of Richmond’s shortlisted proposal to create resilient physical and virtually integrated platforms.
As well, in the same category as Richmond, the neighbouring City of Victoria submitted a bid to create a multimodal transportation network that is convenient, green, and affordable.
Free demonstration driverless shuttle ride events held earlier this year in both Vancouver and Surrey were meant to engage the public about the joint proposal and the technology’s potential.
The Vancouver portion of the project was envisioned as a three-km-long corridor on three parallel routes that link Granville Island and Science World and connect with the False Creek South and Olympic Village communities.
As for the Surrey portion, two routes would have connected key and emerging destinations, including SkyTrain stations, SFU Surrey, Surrey City Hall, Surrey City Centre Library, Central City Mall, and various Fraser Health Authority facilities such as Surrey Memorial Hospital.
If the joint bid had won, awarded federal funding would be supplemented by an additional $36.5 million in private sector contributions and at least $15 million in direct funding from both municipal governments.
With the $50 million federal fund included, the total two-city project would have been backed by over $100 million in funding.
While this idea will not receive funding from this particular branch of the federal government at this time, the thoroughly developed plans can be retained for future opportunities and other funding sources.