Last week, the TransLink Mayors’ Council voted in favour of extending the Broadway subway to UBC. This is great news for those who commute from Delta into Vancouver for school or for work.
This announcement builds on the Mayors’ Council’s December 2018 decision to extend Skytrain to Langley Centre, as well as the 2017 completion of the Evergreen Line extension to Coquitlam.
Now that these much-needed projects are moving forward, it’s time to start talking seriously about a Canada Line extension south of the Fraser River.
It’s no secret that communities South of the Fraser have been historically under-served by public transit. TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond has admitted as much. In his fall address at a Delta Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, he noted that TransLink’s 10 Year Investment Plan incorporates a disproportionate amount of new services for commuters in Delta, Surrey, White Rock and Langley (including a new B-Line on Scott Road) in order to rectify the imbalance.
There’s a strong argument to be made for a Canada Line extension to South Richmond and over a new Massey Tunnel crossing – whatever that looks like. In fact, since the provincial government has scrapped the previous plan for a 10-lane bridge and initiated a new consultation process, now is the opportune time to discuss a forward-thinking transportation solution incorporating rapid transit.
The new Canada Line extension could run over a multi-use bridge or tunnel, terminating at a new park-and-ride north of Ladner. The Highway 99 corridor is utilized not just by folks in South Delta, but also those in North Delta, South Surrey and White Rock. All of these communities would benefit from a southern Canada Line extension.
In total, 80,000 daily commuters use the George Massey Tunnel on their way to Richmond, Vancouver, Burnaby, and beyond. The Massey Tunnel is the worst bottleneck in B.C., and while a replacement is desperately needed for seismic safety reasons, we also have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get commuters out of their cars and onto public transit.
A terminus station in Delta could pave the way for future expansion to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal in the south, and a connection to Scott Road station in the west. The Canada Line station at YVR Airport has been a game changer for tourism and connectivity in Metro Vancouver. A future rapid transit expansion to BC Ferries would have similar regional benefits.
Further, over the last 10 years, more and more jobs have moved away from downtown Vancouver and into emerging city centres in Surrey and Burnaby, where commercial rents are more affordable. While our transit services generally do a good job getting commuters from the suburbs into Vancouver, it fails those who wish to travel from community to community. An eventual connection to Scott Road station would rectify this.
I’ve taken an informal and very unscientific poll amongst friends and family who drive into Vancouver daily from Delta and Surrey. The number one hindrance to making the switch to public transportation is the number of transfers. Commuters aren’t getting out of their cars to take the bus because nobody wants to take two busses and a Skytrain to get to their final destination.
I support the Mayors’ Council’s recent decisions to move forward with Skytrain extensions to UBC and Langley Centre. As we look forward to the next phase in Metro Vancouver’s rapid transit trajectory, I would implore our leaders not to forget Richmond, Delta and the untapped potential of a southbound Canada Line extension.
If we’re going to get serious about a rapid-transit oriented future, that’s my vote.
Councillor, City of Delta