By David Carrigg
The extension of SkyTrain west from Commercial Drive should be shelved and
the money spent keeping buses on the road, angry Mount Pleasant residents told
the city Thursday night.
About 50 residents crowded a committee room to tell council they want the
$80-million Millennium Line extension put on hold until TransLink sorts it
finances out. Because of TransLinkís failed vehicle levy, which would have
raised up to $100 million a year, the regional transport provider plans to cut
bus services while maintaining its SkyTrain commitments.
In response, COPE councillors Fred Bass and Tim Louis have requested a
moratorium on funding and construction of the SkyTrain extension west of
Commercial Drive, through the Grandview Cut to the planned Finning high tech
development. Bass and Louis have also asked for councilís support in opposing
cuts to bus services.
Most of the residents who spoke at the meeting complained about a lack of
consultation by TransLink and potential environmental impacts in the 90-year-old
Grandview Cut, calling the extension a waste of money.
Janis Hanen, who regularly takes a bus from East Vancouver to UBC, said the
proposed line is supposed to service Vancouver Community College, at 1155 West
Broadway, but the station is four blocks from the school. "People will
continue to take the bus along Broadway to get to the college. This is the
SkyTrain to nowhere," said Hanen, adding the bus she takes to work is
Wayne Pledger, manager of the Vancouver Rapid Transit Office, was heckled at
the meeting after saying he had not heard of the Greer Report. The internal
government report released by the opposition Liberals last month suggests cost
comparisons used by the government to decide whether to back SkyTrain or light
rapid transit were not accurate.
In 1998 former Premier Glen Clark abandoned the idea of light rapid transit,
which included buses and an electrically-powered light train, and decided the
Lower Mainlandís transit system would be SkyTrain based. SkyTrain was
introduced to Vancouver during Expo 86.
After a heated debate over the vehicle levy with Coun. Gordon Price, NDP MLA
Jenny Kwan said she would inform the NDP caucus of community concern over the
Commercial-to-Finning SkyTrain link.
Price called the argument with Kwan typical of the provincial governmentís
relationship with the city. He said the province forced the city to back
SkyTrain because it refused to fund any other form of public transit.
"It was rammed down our throats," said Price.
Bass said GVRD residents have never been given enough information to decide
the best form of transportation.
Mayor Philip Owen asked Pledger how much would be lost if the Finning
SkyTrain extension was abandoned. Pledger said no construction contracts have
been made, but millions had been spent acquiring land and planning for the
Because of the large number of people wanting to speak, another meeting has
been scheduled for Feb. 22, when the committee will vote on Bass and Louisís