Jan 15/08: BC's Transit Upgrade Plan Gets Mixed Reviews ...
The B.C. government's $14 billion transit upgrade plan drew mixed
reviews Monday, as small business owners worried about the impact of
construction. As well, local politicians wondered about the province's
ability to secure financing for the upgrades.
In unveiling the proposal in Vancouver Monday, B.C. Premier Gordon
Campbell said it aims to improve public transportation infrastructure
across the province while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by
getting people out of their cars and onto public transport.
But business owners are already expressing concerns about the impact
of key components of the plan, including a $10 billion expansion of
Vancouver's rapid transit system.
Vancouver Pizza store owner Nat Bastone has already seen what has
happened to merchants along the route of the Canada Line Skytrain
rapid transit project on Cambie Street, and worries that his Broadway
Street store could face similar disruption.
During the Canada Line construction, there was traffic disruption
caused by tunnelling on Cambie Street and customers avoided the area.
Bastone said the toll on Broadway could be much greater if the
Millennium Skytrain line is expanded along Broadway to the University
of British Columbia campus.
"Think about all the businesses,'' said Bastone. "Cambie is a short
little business section compared to Broadway,'' he said. "I mean that
would just ruin things. It's a ridiculous decision and whoever thought
of it should have their head examined."
Meanwhile, a veteran civic politician wonders if B.C. will be able to
deliver on a plan to build the new Evergreen Line to the Coquitlam,
Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody area.
Lou Sekora was mayor of Coquitlam 22 years ago when the provincial
government was pledging that Evergreen would be the Lower Mainland's
next Skytrain project after the first one was completed.
But it didn't happen and Sekora wonders if it ever will. "It's just
another joke, another rent-a-crowd, or rent-a-media,'' he said. "Or
somebody woke up in the middle of the night and had a nightmare and
said, 'I'm going to announce it on Monday morning.'''
However, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan said he is pleased to see a
concrete plan in place, even through completion of components such as
the Millennium expension hinge on as yet unsecured funds from Ottawa.
"Now we have to push hard to make sure the funding is in place and get
things moving as soon as possible,'' he said. "I think the federal
government will respond," he said.