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'What about us?' Some Metro mayors say their communities ignored, when it comes to transit

Last Updated Jan 24, 2019 at 2:31 pm PDT

File photo: SkyTrain. (Chad Harris, CityNews Vancouver)

METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – In the battle over transit money, several Metro Vancouver mayors say their communities are being left at the side of the road, as TransLink pushes plans for SkyTrain to UBC.

This comes as the Mayors’ Council received the first draft of a TransLink report, saying SkyTrain is the best option out to the university.

“What about us? When’s it our turn?” Port Coquitlam mayor Brad West said following the report’s presentation. “It’s a challenge for people in my community who are trying to get to their jobs, for students who are trying to get to Douglas College or to SFU to see that level of investment go into this area and not to have a lot of hope on the horizon for what’s going to take place in their part of the world.”

He’s among those including the Mayors of Port Moody, North Vancouver and Pitt Meadows who say with the focus on projects in big cities, their smaller communities are still lagging behind in their transit needs.

He says the message from all levels of government is for people to get out of their cars and onto transit.

“What I hear from people in Port Coquitlam is, ‘We’d love to. What am I supposed to get onto? A bus that comes once very 30 minutes or so that doesn’t take me where I need to go?”

West adds when buses do arrive, they are often already crowded or full.

RELATED: SkyTrain is only feasible option to extend transit service to UBC: report

He agrees there’s a need for improved service along the Broadway corridor. “But there is a need for improved service in a number of corridors in a number of areas.”

“The reality is that area of Vancouver is one of the wealthiest areas of Metro Vancouver, in terms of real estate. UBC is the elite university in the province, one of the most elite universities in Canada — very difficult to get into, very expensive to go to,” he said.

Work is already underway for a SkyTrain extension from VCC-Clark to Arbutus. TransLink is recommending a further extension to UBC, the details and specific cost of which still need to be hammered out.

West says he doesn’t want people in his community to bear the cost of an extension to UBC.

“If there’s a move to have this route go underground and all the additional costs that come with it, that’s going to have to be borne by the City of Vancouver and UBC and the folks who want it.”

“What money is going to be committed to actually help us?”

“I can’t go back to Port Coquitlam and say, ‘Okay, this area that’s already tremendously well-served by transit is going to get even better served by transit. Oh, and also, by the way, it has to be underground even though the rest of the region is largely elevated … that won’t be on for people in Port Coquitlam.”

North Vancouver District mayor Mike Little also agrees that there is a need for a better connection to UBC. “But the case for UBC is largely even proven by 30 years of investment in transit development within the area.”

“So, there’s more money going to that area and even more money going to that area — what money is going to be committed to actually help us with the congestion issues our communities are facing?” Little said.

RELATED: TransLink ‘still studying idea’ of extending weekend SkyTrain service hours

Mayors’ Council chair and New Westminster mayor Jonathan Cote argues the line to UBC isn’t just a project for Vancouver and the university.

“The bus corridor along the Broadway line is the busiest bus corridor in Canada and the United States. And it services residents from all across the Metro Vancouver region — particularly, out to Burnaby and the Tri-Cities,” he said. “It’s a big component of that line and that needs to be important — we’re not just talking about a Vancouver transit project, here. We’re are talking about having … a regional serving project.”

“This isn’t about delaying or trumping any projects or priorities currently outlined in the mayors’ 10-year plan,” Cote emphasized.

“We’re currently working on the implementation of Phase 2, which does involve rapid transit investment south of the Fraser. It does involve the Broadway corridor to Arbutus Street. But it also involves numerous B-Lines across the region and bus enhancements. Those projects are funded and are moving ahead.”