A dramatic three-month saga over the North Shore B-Line in West Vancouver will continue, but without the possibility of bus-only lanes that enable bus priority measures for transit buses.
Councillors with the District of West Vancouver voted this evening to have district staff and TransLink planners go back to the drawing board with the B-Line route west of the Park Royal shopping mall.
Councillor Craig Cameron’s motion of exploring alternatives was approved, but any options through the Ambleside and Dundarave areas cannot depend on bus-only lanes and pass by schools. District staff will return to council in 30 days with a full report containing feasible alternatives and the complete findings of the public consultation that ended late last month.
“Mistakes were made all around. Council made mistakes, TransLink made mistakes, staff made mistakes, and the community made mistakes” said Mayor Mary-Ann Booth.
Cameron also asserted that not enough public consultation was made on the B-Line plans after it was included in the Mayors’ Council’s vision and fully funded for implementation, and that it was decided by the previous mayor that TransLink would lead the planning process.
Shortly before voting on the matter, Booth made comments that noted her disappointment at the personal attacks and harassment councillors received throughout the consultation and decision-making process over the last few months. Although this is “a part of the job” of being an elected representative, she “does not condone” the behaviour.
She also criticized those who made disparaging attacks against young public speakers in support of the B-Line, emphasizing that youth should not be discouraged from participating in the civic process and acknowledging the sacrifices many students made last week to come out on a school night to speak to council.
“What bothers me the most is the attacks and intimidation and criticism of other residents, including young people. I’ve stood up to young people to get them to participate and engaged, and I’m sorry if a young person disagrees with your perspective,” said Booth.
Moving forward, Booth added there is an opportunity to “reset” the tone of the discussions — a call for more respectful conversations — on the future of the B-Line route through the community. She also added there is “no conspiracy” and rejected assertions that densification would follow if the B-Line route were approved to Dundarave.
Opponents of the B-Line speaking at council tonight spoke of their continued determination to have the rapid bus route end at Park Royal. Instead, they want improved connections to downtown Vancouver, but this is already a longer-term plan by TransLink; the public transit authority is aiming to start a new B-Line route in the 2020s that crosses the Lions Gate Bridge to link downtown with Lynn Valley in North Vancouver, and the City of Vancouver is already considering a redesign of West Georgia Street that could significantly improve the congested route for buses.
According to TransLink and district planners, changes to the design of Marine Drive west of Park Royal were meant to boost the reliability and speed of not only the North Shore B-Line’s articulated buses but also the West Vancouver Blue Bus routes that share the same roadway. The public transit authority also indicated certain changes such as dedicated turning bays would have also improved overall traffic flow.
Over a span of 20 city blocks, a total of 25 on-street parking spots would have been removed to make space for turning bays and bus shelters.
TransLink originally planned on launching the North Shore B-Line in two phases, with the span from Phibbs Exchange to at least Park Royal this fall and the route west of Park Royal to Dundarave sometime in 2020.
A total of three additional B-Line routes will also be rolled out by the end of this year, with the other two routes located on 41st Avenue in Vancouver (UBC to Joyce-Collingwood Station) and Lougheed Highway (Coquitlam Central Station to Maple Ridge.
Similar bus-only lanes and street changes are planned for the remaining North Shore B-Line corridor through North Vancouver and the other two B-Lines through Vancouver, Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge. So far, only West Vancouver has taken significant issue with the proposed street changes to accommodate new B-Line investments.