Kennedy Stewart challenged on ‘Vancouver Loop’ SkyTrain election pledge – BC | Canadian

With fewer than three weeks to go before Vancouver’s municipal election, incumbent mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart has dropped a bold public transit promise.

Stewart and his Forward Together team released plans Monday to accelerate completion of the “Vancouver Loop” SkyTrain expansion. If completed, it would connect 18 neighbourhoods with a mix of expansions that are already under construction, approved or still in the planning stages.

“Completing the Vancouver Loop will help us meet our livability and climate emergency goals,” Stewart said in news release.

Stewart said he will achieve his goal of accelerating the various SkyTrain lines by aggressively pursuing funding from the provincial and federal governments, with a goal of completing the loop by 2045 or sooner. In addition to providing municipal funds, he would also talk to host First Nations about investments, he added.

If constructed, the so-called “Vancouver Loop” would connect 18 neighbourhoods: Grandview Woodland,Mount Pleasant, Fairview, Kitsilano, Point Grey, UBC, Dunbar, Arbutus Ridge, Shaughnessy,Kerrisdale, South Cambie, Oakridge, Riley Park, Sunset, Kensington Cedar-Cottage,Victoria-Fairview, Renfrew-Collingwood, and Killarney.

Handout/Forward Together

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The proposed loop would include the now-under construction Broadway Subway between VCC-Clark Station and Arbutus Street, which is scheduled for completion in 2025. The remaining elements are a further extension of the Millennium Line subway to the University of British Columbia and a UBC-to-Metrotown rapid transit line along the 41st and 49th Avenue corridor.

The UBC extension has been identified as a 10-year priority project in TransLink’s Transport 2050 plan, while the latter has been listed for a planning study in the same category. In an emailed statement, TransLink said next steps in the Millennium Line expansion include development of a business case to secure funding.

“Any future major transit investments will be considered under Transport 2050, Metro Vancouver’s recently approved 30-year Regional Transportation Strategy and future Investment Plans,” TransLink wrote.

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Global News reached out to all mayoral candidates whose contact information it could find. Some welcomed Stewart’s proposed acceleration of the loop, while others slammed it.

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Ken Sim of ABC Vancouver said Stewart essentially re-announced the TransLink 2050 plan and reaffirmed the Vancouver Plan, both of which his party’s three incumbent council candidates voted to support.

“An ABC Majority on Council would prioritize the Skytrain line to UBC, the Lower Mainland’s second-largest commuter destination, followed by a fixed link to the North Shore (across the Second Narrows and Skytrain down Hastings Street connecting to Waterfront Station),” Sim wrote.

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TEAM Vancouver’s Colleen Hardwick said Stewart’s “multi-billion dollar promises” on public transit show he is “out of touch” with reality as the city grapples with a lack of affordable housing and core services.

“Kennedy Stewart’s latest plan to loop the city with SkyTrain extensions is an outrageously expensive daydream that would cost Vancouver taxpayers billions of dollars building routes that do not have the population to justify such a massive expenditure.”

Fred Harding of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) said his team “fully support(s)” more public transit, including the loop.

“We also think the mayor could perhaps take some more immediate practical steps like building affordable rental around our current transit stations,” Harding said.

In a Twitter message, Progress Vancouver’s Mark Marissen said, “Stewart hasn’t delivered on SkyTrain to UBC but now he wants to distract from that failure by drawing a few lines on the map.”

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By email, independent mayoral candidate Lewis Villegas, an urban design specialist said the incumbent “does not understand cities and he does not understand Vancouver.”

“Stop building the Skytrian [sic], it costs too much and carries too few passengers,” he wrote. “Any Skytrain extension will be levelled with the same problem: an inversion of costs and capacity. We pay more, we get less.”

Villegas said Vancouver needs streetcars or light-rail transit on “the Arbutus ROW, all the way up to Chilliwack,” affordable housing at each streetcar stop, and new “tramtowns” in the “ex-urban periphery” with room for about 32,000 residents each.

If elected, Ping Chan, an independent candidate and engineer, said he would ensure “traffic gridlocks will become a history in collaboration with UBC.” Responding to an inquiry on Facebook, he wrote: “It seems to me that no one really cares about the air pollution from burning the fossil fuels for electricity, transportation, and traffic gridlocks despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Our lungs cannot take it anymore.”

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Stewart said Monday his critics “have no transit plans.”

The Transport 2050 plan has gone through “extensive consultation,” he added, though he acknowledged there’s a “long way to go” before the Vancouver Loop has the funds it needs.

“I can’t see how any councillor would be against this. If they’re against it, they shouldn’t be elected because we need to be fighting for public transit.”

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