If you’ve driven through North Vancouver during rush hour lately, you know the North Shore suburb has a traffic problem.
The section of highway that runs from the north end of the Second Narrows Bridge, past the exit for Lonsdale Avenue, and then further west, to Park Royal mall in West Vancouver, often slows to a crawl for several kilometres.
Over the last decade, a development boom along Lonsdale Avenue and, more recently, around Park Royal, has brought thousands of new residents to the area.
Now, the Liberal MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour thinks she might have a solution. Jane Thornthwaite has proposed a SkyTrain expansion.
It’s not the first time that a politician has suggested a rapid transit line for the North Shore. North Vancouver mayor Darrell Mussatto raised the idea a couple of times earlier this year. He’s also asked for a feasibility study of a rapid-transit line connecting North Vancouver and downtown Vancouver that would run under the Burrard Inlet along where the SeaBus operates today.
In addition, Thornthwaite has spoken on the topic in the Victoria legislature.
But earlier this week, she floated the idea with an attractive map. It’s seemed to have breathed new life into the conversation and is creating a lot of chatter.
The map shows a line running from the West Vancouver neighbourhood of Dundarave, east along the waterfront through Ambleside, making a stop at Park Royal, and then continuing underneath the Lions Gate Brdige, to Capilano.
In North Vancouver, it continues to the SeaBus terminal at Lonsdale Quay, and then to Phibbs Exchange, which is a major transit point for TransLink buses located just south of Capilano University.
From Phibbs Exchange, Thornthwait’s imaginary SkyTrain line splits in two directions. The first continues east, to Maplewood and then to a final stop at Cates Park.
The second fork from Phibbs Exchange runs south, along the Second Narrows Bridge.
It connects to TransLink’s bus network in the City of Vancouver at its Kootenay Loop station. Finally, further south, it connects with the rest of the region’s rapid-transit system, at the Millennium Line’s Gilmore station in Burnaby.
Is a North Vancouver SkyTrain line ever going to actually happen?
The usual prerequisite for a rapid-transit system is population density. And North Vancouver is more crowded than some might be aware, though measures of population density are complicated by the fact that North Vancouver is actually two municipalities divided into a city and a district.
For reference sake, according to Statistics Canada data from 2016, the City of Vancouver’s population of 631,486 residents live 5,492.6 people per square kilometre.
The City of North Vancouver only has a population of 52,898, but they’re also living in relatively close quarters with one another. In 2016, its population density was 4,465.1 people per square kilometre.
According to Statistics Canada, that makes it the sixth most density-populated metropolitan area in Canada.
But the City of North Vancouver is tiny. The much larger District of North Vancouver had a 2016 population of 85,395. But the density for that area was only 534.6 people per square kilometre.