Is anyone else having a “here we go again” moment about the Arbutus Corridor? Not about the value of having it as a city asset, but about the aspirational language that was built into the Mayor’s announcement and subsequent statements on the radio, when he talked about it being Vancouver’s High-line, about it having public art along it, about it being wonderful for family outings etc. etc.
All the images, both verbal and graphic, are recreational. I know this city image below is just a sketch, but it is an inspirational one of mixed uses happily coexisting. It creates expectations….
Take the city scene off the left-hand side and what do you have:
White Rock Beach, with the BNSF line running through it. Anybody who knows White Rock knows how poorly the train and the unseparated walking/cycling area work together; trains amble along the beach at little more than a walking pace, occasionally wiping out pedestrians wearing earbuds – hardly the recipe for a transit line. Even the Arbutus bus goes faster than that. (BNSF has been lobbied heavily to move its tracks inland, but has shown little interest due to the reported cost of a half-billion.)
Is this a tacit admission by the city that the west side will never be densified to the extent that a rapid-transit line will be feasible? Is it another nod to Resort City?
This graphic from the Transportation 2040 report makes no mention at all of the corridor, but the text suggests that both transit and recreation scenarios are possible.
From my point of view, although I’m perfectly happy with bikeways such as Cypress two blocks away from the corridor, I would enjoy a narrow paved path through the brambles so I could get to the Kerrisdale area; however, I would hate to see anything done on that expensive corridor that will make it politically impossible to run fast rail. Of course, it could always become what the Millennium Line is through East Van – a Skytrain guideway providing some rain shelter for cyclists and pedestrians below. Not likely!
If the gorilla of public opinion is given this banana by city council, it’s going to be awfully difficult to take it away. Anybody agree?
March 15, 2016