British Columbia

B.C. government to study fixed-link rapid transit to North Shore

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. 

Tunnels, bridges and increased ferry service are all possibilities

The Second Narrows Bridge is one of three transportation links connecting the North Shore with the rest of Metro Vancouver, but a new link hasn't been built since the Seabus started in 1977. (Christer Waara/CBC)

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

"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."

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."

Translink Seabus leaving North Vancouver for downtown Vancouver. (CBC)

Link to Waterfront station?

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. 

"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."

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.

"The issue of transportation impacts us every single day."


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