No decision on the West Vancouver portion of the planned North Shore B-Line route was made in last night’s highly heated district council meeting.
Councillors decided to defer any further debate to March 11 after listening to a marathon list of public speakers up to nearly 11 pm, with opinions expressed roughly evenly split for and against.
In recent months, opponents of the B-Line west of Park Royal have expressed their concerns over the potential negative impact a rapid bus route and street changes could have on their businesses in Ambleside and Dundarave.
A motion proposed by councillor Peter Lambur to truncate the B-Line route at Park Royal shopping centre, instead of continuing for three more stops further west to reach Dundarave, as well as eliminate on-street parking reductions and bus-only lanes plans, will be discussed at the next meeting. From Park Royal, the B-Line would continue east along Marine Drive to Lonsdale Quay and Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver.
The very first speaker of the night, amongst many, was supportive of the B-Line, and the comments he made may as well have been a call to action to fellow residents to be more civil and not live up to the “West Vancouver stereotype.”
“Over time, I’ve come to observe that some of us feel somewhat culturally entitled and need to react to any progressive idea, perhaps a natural reaction to change we feel may threaten us,” said Gary Hiscox, a 35-year resident of West Vancouver.
“I feel sure, Madam Mayor and Council, that you thought long and hard when deciding to run for public office, when taking the oath to serve I feel sure you were motivated by a desire in the public good to make decisions in the interest of us all, the community at large. But not only for us, but in this particular case, for those who make our lives more enjoyable in our community: nannies, carers of the elderly and the affirmed, workers, teachers, firefighters, police, and so on — people who may be dependent on transit. I do not doubt your desire to serve with integrity and empathy.”
However, as the evening progressed, many speakers expressing their angst against the B-Line seem to have proved Hiscox’s point.
To put it mildly, some of the comments they made were not just questionable — based on Metro Vancouver’s experience with five existing and past B-Line routes — but also uncomfortable and cringeworthy:
“I am certainly not culturally entitled,” said one speaker in response to Hiscox’s assertions. Then just seconds later, he continued with this: “We West Vancouverites, who are clear thinkers, are opposed to the B-Line, and we don’t want this to ruin the fabric and the culture of our community.”
This comment made by a public speaker who was “unpleased” with the district’s recent phone surveys: “A neighbour of mine in my building received a telephone call, well, she suspected, these are her words, someone with an East Indian accent that she could barely understand.”
Rich elites will never take the bus, according to this speaker: “People I know in West Vancouver are pretty ‘Type A’ and their kids are booked. The husbands and wives are pretty booked too.”
The opinions of young people, who are most affected by the B-Line decision, do not matter: “To mayor, councillors, and the young pro-B-Liners, I have spent many years involved in political discussions and servicing my community. I do not feel like an old guy, out of touch with my world. In fact, I can guarantee you that I have seen far more of the planet than many of you ever will.”
Buses are already routed on Marine Drive in West Vancouver, but longer buses are a big moving hazard that do not belong anywhere near children, homes, and anyone and anything: “Really, none of us are safe from this… the first proposal was to take these buses down Hayward Avenue, past an elementary school, playground, kindergarten, and the homes of 75 taxpaying citizens.”
But are articulated buses any more dangerous on other routes elsewhere in Metro Vancouver?
Articulated buses passing by homes will depreciate home values: “What I’m trying to get across to you is that the decision you make surrounding this B-Line debacle has ramifications not only for the safety and well-being of our families, but also our homes’ equities.”
According to BC Assessment, the latest average assessed value of homes in West Vancouver is $2.806 million.
The village ambiance of Dundarave will be ruined by the B-Line: “I am solely against the B-Line extending to Dundarave because that’s where I grew up. It’s my hometown. I’m Huck Finn of Dundarave. It’s beautiful, and with all these buses and everything it’ll be ruined.”
A speaker addressing young people directly on how these articulated hybrid buses will create more pollution: “The pollution factor of all those buses, youngsters, is really exceptional. There are already 250 trips daily one-way between Park Royal and Dundarave, and add to that another 76 trips minimum one-way between Park Royal and Dundarave and you’ve got a heck a lot of pollution… we’re all going to be gagging. The pollution, lights, and noise will be unacceptable.”
But here is a reality check: a single articulated bus can handle about a hundred people, which is a far better situation (in theory) than one hundred single-occupancy vehicles. That’s a lot less pollution.