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Dix won’t commit to Broadway corridor as Lower Mainland’s transit priority

A SkyTrain passes over the intersection of Broadway and Commercial in Vancouver on May 27, 2011.

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

Adrian Dix, Leader of the Opposition in B.C., says Vancouver will have to wait its turn on provincial support for rapid transit on Broadway, deemed a lynchpin of the city's transportation plan passed this week.

Given the commanding NDP lead over the governing Liberals in the polls, Mr. Dix is being pressed more frequently on where an NDP government would go with policy issues.

During an unrelated news conference Thursday, he was asked his position on Vancouver's increasing interest in rapid transit between Commercial Drive and the main campus of the University of British Columbia – a project that the city says could cost $3-billion.

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"That's clearly been identified by the region as a priority," Mr. Dix said of the Broadway transit concept, which Vancouver wants to be SkyTrain. "But there are other priorities as well including priorities south of the Fraser [River]. There are other priorities in terms of addressing bus service."

He added: "Just as the mayor of Surrey's priorities are very important so are the ones laid out by the mayor of Vancouver."

On Wednesday, Vancouver city council passed Transportation 2040, a wide-ranging strategy that commits the city to ensuring two-thirds of trips in Vancouver are made by foot, bike or transit – up from the current 44 per cent.

A key component is transit expansion, yet there is no clear plan to bring that about along the Broadway corridor. Nor is there an option for proceeding with the plan without rapid transit along Broadway.

Mr. Dix said the larger issue raised is how to fund transit. "The governance model and funding issues are not going in the right direction. What it tells us is there is a lot of work to be done," he said. "The current system is governance by passive aggression."

There has been no indication about how TransLink might pay for the rapid-transit priorities of either Vancouver or Surrey, and the province has not allowed new funding mechanisms for TransLink.

Mr. Dix, who touted his personal use of buses along Broadway as part of his transit routine, said resolving the issue is key to the economy of the region and mobility of its labour force.

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"It's a key issue on inequality. As someone who rides the transit system very regularly, I understand the advantage of it when you have rapid transit and the disadvantage when you don't."

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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