Province to study North Shore-Vancouver rapid transit line – North Shore News

Province to study North Shore-Vancouver rapid transit line - North Shore News
B.C. government to study fixed-link rapid transit to North Shore
The study will also consider how a rapid-transit system could open up land for affordable housing development.

The province announced Tuesday it would conduct a feasibility study this summer of building a rapid transit crossing to the North Shore. Pictured is the SeaBus ferry crossing the Burrard Inlet. Jason Payne / PNG files

“Over the years, the high cost of housing has forced people to move further from the places they work, resulting in longer commutes and serious traffic issues. This feasibility study is an extremely exciting addition to the many initiatives we have implemented so far and continue to work on to get the North Shore moving again.”

The province announced Tuesday it would begin a study this summer into the feasibility of a rapid transit line using a fixed-link — meaning a bridge or tunnel — to connect downtown Vancouver to the Lonsdale commercial core of North Vancouver.

“Not only does approval of this funding demonstrate the benefits of intergovernmental co-operation, but it also brings us a critical step closer to addressing traffic issues in a meaningful way. This is the kind of bold action we need to take as we work to become the healthiest small city in the world.”

A SkyTrain to the North Shore? B.C. studying rapid transit across Burrard Inlet

The study is being paid for by the province, the District of North Vancouver and the cities of Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver.

The Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project proposed a connection between Lonsdale City Centre and the city of Vancouver. Governments have long grappled with the challenges of a third fixed crossing between the North Shore and Vancouver.

“Commuters on the North Shore are frustrated with congestion,” said Transportation Minister Claire Trevena in a statement. “With this feasibility study, we’re exploring potential solutions that help people move around more easily, which will improve quality of life.”

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the District of North Vancouver, the City of Vancouver, City of North Vancouver and City of West Vancouver are contributing funding towards the study that will get underway this summer.

The possibility of rapid transit from Vancouver to the North Shore was among the recommendations last year in a planning project led by Bowinn Ma, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale. It recommended study of a 3.2-kilometre Lonsdale Quay-Waterfront Station tunnel, even though that is deepest and widest part of Burrard Inlet.

The B.C. government is working with TransLink and municipal funding partners to look at the feasibility of a potential rapid transit crossing across the Burrard Inlet to the North Shore.

The SkyTrain travelling through Vancouver, with the North Shore mountains in the background. PNG files

Ma said traffic congestion and housing affordability are some of the problems that could be alleviated if a rapid transit link were possible across the Burrard Inlet.

“With this feasibility study, we’re exploring potential solutions that help people move around more easily, which will improve quality of life.”

“Over the years, the high cost of housing has forced people to move further from the places they work, resulting in longer commutes and serious traffic issues,” she said.

Greg Holmes with the Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Association said a rapid transit connection is something the North Shore business community largely supports but that there are some who believe a SkyTrain crossing Burrard Inlet may bring some “undesirable elements.”

“This is wonderful news for us here in the City of North Vancouver and for the North Shore in general,” North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan said.

“Ultimately, we’ve got a finite amount of space. It is water on one side, mountains the other and that will never change,” Holmes said Tuesday. “We all agree that there’s no one magic solution … so anything that can get people out of their vehicles is going to be absolutely crucial to the survival of business.”

“Our government recognizes commuters on the North Shore are frustrated with congestion,” Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said.

The study would also consider how a rapid-transit system could open up land for affordable housing development. Options for expanding the Burrard Inlet’s ferry network beyond the current SeaBus would also be examined.

“Traffic congestion is intricately connected to issues like housing affordability,” North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma said.

Earlier this year, West Vancouver district council voted unanimously to explore alternative routes and stop options for the Main-Marine B-Line. The rapid bus line had caused months of heated debate in the community.

Traffic congestion is intricately connected to issues like housing affordability, Ma said. Over the years, the high cost of housing has forced people to move further from the places they work, resulting in longer commutes and serious traffic issues. This feasibility study is an extremely exciting addition to the many initiatives we have implemented so far and continue to work on to get the North Shore moving again.

The B.C. government has announced a feasibility study on creating a rapid transit link between the North Shore and  Vancouver. 

The study, which will begin this summer, is being funded jointly by the province and the City of Vancouver along with the three municipalities on the North Shore — West Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver. 

The current options available to cross to the North Shore — the Lions Gate Bridge, the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and SeaBus — have not changed in over 40 years. Meanwhile, the number of commuters has increased to the point where transportation has become the dominant issue in regional elections.  

An INSTPP report from August 2018 recommends "evaluating the benefits and costs of, and conditions for rapid transit between the North Shore and Burrard Peninsula, connecting to the regional rapid transit network, and focusing on connecting Lonsdale City Centre with Vancouvers metropolitan core."

"Over the years, the high cost of housing has forced people to move further from the places they work, resulting in longer commutes and serious traffic issues," said Bowinn Ma, the MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale and Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink.

"This feasibility study is an extremely exciting addition to the many initiatives we have implemented so far and continue to work on to get the North Shore moving again."

Adding transportation options across Burrard Inlet is one of the several recommendations put forward in the Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project led by North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma.

The announcement from the government contains no frame of reference for the study, but says it will "consider the compatibility of a transit crossing with existing and future land use" and "could also consider increased use of the Burrard Inlet through an extended passenger ferry network."

The B.C. government has announced it will explore rapid transit options between downtown Vancouver and the North Shore in response to the worsening congestion on the routes connecting the two areas.

Ma said the people on the study will be primarily planning and engineering experts, with the first stage likely completed in September or October.

One of the biggest questions part of study will look at, according to Ma, is whether the optimal route is between Waterfront Station and Lonsdale Quay or another location. 

While INSTPP did not discuss specific types of transportation that could link the two areas, it did say "municipal partners have stated a preference for rail rapid transit."

"That was [identified] as the most optimistic alignment for a rapid transit connection, if you take into account population growth and economic activity," she said. 

"However that connection … also happens to be extremely technically challenging. It is the widest, deepest part of Burrard Inlet."

A rapid transit option in the vicinity of the current SeaBus route would likely lead to the largest increase in ridership, the report added.

Once a few options are identified by the panel, they will explore land-use plans, future growth plans and regional transportation strategies.   

The full study will be completed in early 2020. Questions around government support and financing options will come after, but for now, Ma is excited. 

"This is an extremely exciting and important announcement for people in North Shore," she said.

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