For Immediate Release:
Subject: TransLink Board approves Space-Port proposal
Vancouver – TransLink board members and the Mayors' Council today approved the initial design phase and funding formula for the proposed Metro Vancouver Space Port (MVSP).
"This is a bold step toward the future of transportation in the Lower Mainland," said a spokesperson for TransLink. "We know that the future of transit in our region extends far beyond the shackles of gravity. It's true this is an ambitious project, but then so is the Evergreen Line."
The Space Port will be a multi-use facility, accommodating all forms of flying vehicles, including personal vehicles, public transport, and all commercial traffic requiring a landing pad, refuelling bays, and antimatter containment facilities. The proposal includes a timeline for the expansion of the Space Port to accommodate deep space and warp-drive vehicles in the future.
TransLink is committed to meeting the current and future transportation needs of the Lower Mainland. The Metro Vancouver Space Port is an integral component of this transportation infrastructure. The MVSP was first proposed in 2001. In 2002 the board of TransLink passed a motion to ensure the Space Port would be built concurrently with the Evergreen Line; however, senior levels of government have so far committed funding only for the Space Port because it's way more exciting than another train to the suburbs.
Naming the Space Port: As was the case for the Evergreen Line, naming the project, rather than actually building it, is our first priority. This strategy has served us well in the past. For planning purposes, TransLink has been calling the project "The Metro Vancouver Space Port" (MVSP). Now, TransLink is hosting a public competition to find a permanent name that will reflect the Space Port's long-term significance to adjacent communities and to the entire region.
The contest winner will get either a new mountain bike or a six-month TransLink pass, and will be the first member of the public to ceremonially land at the Space Port when it opens in 2015 (estimated).
There are three general guidelines submissions need to follow: The project cannot be named after a living person, consumer product or company. Suggested names should be a maximum of two words (not including "the") plus the words Space Port. Suggested names should reflect some of the character, people, history or geography of the region.
Detailed Design Phase:
Since this is the first facility of its kind, TransLink is starting with a blank canvas. Detailed technical specifications will be available to all applicants through an open and transparent procurement process. That said, we think it might be white, with a lot of curves. And probably strip lights that guide the spaceships in.
TransLink will hold a series of public consultation sessions to solicit input, which will later be ignored but will make members of the public feel good.
TransLink has not yet decided on the specific location of the Space Port but will favour a location that is well served by existing Transit. This rules out Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody. TransLink will also choose a site where opportunities exist for future development of residential and commercial space. Given the high-profile nature of the project, we anticipate some degree of competition between Lower Mainland municipalities as we decide on the location.
The estimated cost of the Space Port stands at $21-billion (2011 dollars). The federal and provincial governments have each pledged $300-million.
The remaining $20.4-billion will be recovered by TransLink through a $2-per-litre increase to the gas tax, a $1,200 annual increase to property tax, and a vehicle levy based on a vehicle's number of wheels and its colour. As well, tolls and congestion charges will be applied to anyone who takes a car out of their driveway or garage. (Transponders to be installed on a cost-recovery basis.) History has shown us that Lower Mainland drivers are willing to accept tolls and higher gas prices to pay for transit even if they don't use transit. As well, property owners appear willing to tolerate significant tax increases year after year despite the absence of a link between the value of their property and transit use. While we do not understand this, we're running with it.
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver.