Vancouver mayor starts working on Plan B for Broadway subway
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After months of adamantly stating Vancouver has no Plan B to fund the Broadway subway should the transit referendum fail, Mayor Gregor Robertson revealed Wednesday that the city has started to work on a back-up plan.
It’s the first time the mayor admitted the city is exploring alternative ways to build an east-west rapid transit line if it doesn’t get the funding from a ‘Yes’ vote, which would use a 0.5 per cent regional sales tax increase and provincial and federal funds to inject $7.5 billion into Metro Vancouver’s transit system over 10 years.
“Obviously we’re hopeful we have a ‘Yes’ vote and can proceed as planned. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll go to Plan B,” Robertson told reporters after his keynote address to the development community at an Urban Land Institute event.
“We’re working on Plan B now in the event there is a negative outcome,” he said, although he wouldn’t expand on what it looks like. “It’s too early to say,” he added.
Elections B.C. is expected to announce the transit plebiscite results in the next couple of weeks.
“Regardless of what that decision is, the Broadway subway will get built,” Robertson said during his speech, adding he’s hoping and praying for a ‘Yes’ vote. “I will continue to focus on it relentlessly as long as I’m mayor.”
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner has promised to build light rail in Surrey by 2018 no matter the outcome of the referendum. Her Plan B is also under wraps, but during the 2014 election campaign she said she would vie for public-private partnerships and use development fees along the line to pay for transit.
While Robertson has rejected the notion of using development fees to pay for rapid transit, he said the line needs to be built as soon as possible.
“Either we build it now when I think we have a great business case, or we spend a lot more money for it sometime in the future when traffic congestion is even more horrendous,” he said.
A Broadway subway extending the Millennium Line to Arbutus would cost about $2 billion.