Governance & Politics
November 9, 2018

SFU: Want More Skytrain? Do the Numbers (Part II)

Yesterday’s post about the Vancouver Sun op-ed by Alex Boston scraped the surface of what could comprise an effective business case for Skytrain south of the Fraser, let alone what numbers may (or may not) have been used to justify LRT in the first place.

Did Translink miss some data? As I hinted in Part I, perhaps they simply missed communicating the most relevant, top-line numbers the public have an appetite — and capacity — to understand (no offence to all of us).

But let’s assume they made a whole raft of calculations, such as those that can be found in “Regional Transportation Investments: A Vision for Metro Vancouver (Appendices)“, pointed to me by  Boston’s colleague Keane Gruending from the Centre for Dialogue. The Centre’s own analysis on this file is reminiscent of their Moving in a Livable Region program around the time of the 2015 transit plebiscite, which attempted to hold our leaders accountable (and the politics in check), using a facts-first approach.

Boston’s deeper piece on the Renewable Cities website also reminded me that a lot of the debate on whether to pause Phase 2 and 3 of the Mayors Plan to once again deal with the Skytrain question often fails to deal with two important metrics tied to land use: jobs density, and CO2 emissions.

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This week, Alex Boston, the Executive Director of the Renewable Cities program at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, wrote an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun on the proposed two big changes threatening to upend phases 2 and 3 of TransLink’s Mayors Plan.

Boston’s piece is a call, if slightly veiled, to Vancouver’s Kennedy Stewart and Surrey’s Doug McCallum to do what they were elected to do when it comes to regional matters — understand all the issues in a city which are regionally dependent or impactful, obtain support and confidence from your respective councils on big ideas, and work collaboratively with the other mayors and the TransLink Board to realize them.

But of course as you may know, it’s never that easy. And much like the housing crisis, there may not even be agreement on what the two problems are. 

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Despite the Mayor’s Council and its 10-year transportation plan that’s been around for a while now, along with a bunch of hard-to-get Federal and Provincial money, Surrey’s new mayor Doug McCallum wants to change it.

Mayor McCallum wants transit, but on a new route in Surrey to new destinations, using different (Skytrain) technology. Blow up the Mayor’s Council’s 10-year plan, and blow up the City of Surrey’s Community (Land Use) Plan.

And it’s sort of late in the game. More background HERE and HERE.

Not surprisingly, there has been reaction from several parties to this development:

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December 29, 2016

Christopher Cheung and pal Jeremy Nuttall in the Tyee record their thoughts on the newly-opened Evergreen line and the changes underway around it.  It’s a broad look at the effects of rapid transit on mostly car-dependent suburbs.  The interviewees range from look-ahead mayors to travelling families.

Trains bring change, not just in colonial histories, but as new transit lines connect regions today. Trains bring development along their routes, and rising real estate prices. Trains bring new people to existing communities who think they are new. Trains mean cars can be left at home and trains bring in new workers that are only a commute away. . . .

. . . .  I think about a recent CBC interview with the mayors of the two cities on the transit route that highlighted the hopes and concerns.
Port Moody’s Mike Clay: “We’re losing the suburban feel. The suburbs are becoming more urban. We’re all sort of in this together.”
Coquitlam’s Richard Stewart: “We know that this region is going to get another million people in the next 25 years and we have to be able to get as much [as] possible near to SkyTrain lines, near rapid transit systems, near transit hubs, so that we can minimize the 600,000 cars that a million people would produce

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