A proposal from NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton to fast-track a downtown streetcar line was shut down by City of Vancouver staff today (September 22), who said the city shouldn’t pursue the project independently of TransLink.
The streetcar proposal came up during a city council discussion on the 2012-2014 capital plan, when COPE councillor David Cadman asked city staff whether the project could be funded through the three-year plan.
“It’s not a project that the city would pursue on its own – it’s a project that has to be pursued integrally with TransLink,” said city engineer Peter Judd, in response to repeated questions from Cadman.
Judd added that the city’s focus and priority is on a Broadway corridor strategy.
“The Broadway line will have a far higher improvement and impact on transit use than the streetcar,” he said.
City manager Penny Ballem said while the streetcar idea is something that city councils of the past have discussed, she noted it would be “a very significant capital expenditure”.
“It would be a challenge for us, and almost not feasible to try and find that within our existing plan,” she said. “To actually even remotely consider that it would be a question of incurring more debt.”
“This is something that we don’t want to close doors in the future, but we’re a long way from being able to seriously consider putting this in place,” Ballem added.
Anton wasn’t discouraged by the answers from city staff.
“The streetcar is my priority - I am very confident that the streetcar can be built,” she told the Straight in an interview. “The reason it’s being framed in that way is because this council has given no direction and no support for a private partnership. I believe it can be done with private partnership.”
“If you bring that element into it, and if there were to be other grants from other levels of government, which is possible, and which I intend to pursue vigorously, I think those answers would change quite dramatically,” she added.
Anton announced Wednesday (September 21) that if elected mayor, she would establish a task force within 60 days to begin work on fast-tracking the streetcar network.
The proposed network would run from Granville Island to Waterfront Station.