Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart walked away from his first round of meetings with B.C. government ministers confident the SkyTrain extension can be built all the way to UBC.
Currently, the provincial government has committed the funding to extend the Broadway line to Arbutus, but has not pledged any additional money to keep the train going west.
“This is what I want to do is start these negotiations and I feel very positive about the vibes I am getting and it seems it’s something folks are considering,” said Stewart.
“It really makes sense when we look at the region 50 years from now, we will say that was a really good thing to do.”
Stewart was in Victoria on Thursday to meet with ministers Selina Robinson, Claire Trevena, Judy Darcy, Carole James and Katrina Chen.
When asked about supporting Surrey’s decision to get rid of LRT and move to SkyTrain, Stewart said he has no reason to doubt Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum when he says the SkyTrain can extend all the way to Langley under the current budget.
TransLink has pegged the cost for LRT through the city at $1.65 billion. That money has already been secured, with $483.8 million from the federal government, $1.12 billion in regional funds and a little extra from a previous commitment.
Switching to SkyTrain would be much more expensive, with TransLink estimating it would cost $2.9 billion.
Stewart says right now is the perfect time for the region to ask for more money for both the UBC extension and potentially Surrey SkyTrain.
“We have a new relationship with the federal government as well as the provincial government, as well as a small window before the federal election to capture as much money as we can,” said Stewart. “So my job is to try and move the region move forward before those windows close.”
The new Vancouver mayor met with UBC president Santa Ono on Wednesday. UBC is interested in a potential partnership that could help with the funding of the extension.
Stewart has also promised to build 85,000 homes over the next 10 years in the province. He says he is hopeful the provincial government will continue with its financial support for housing.
“We need as much as we can, especially for the most vulnerable folks in our city,” said Stewart. “The modular housing has been fantastic. I know new money into housing refurbishments and new units has been really good and I want to encourage that, keep up the work, but we could use more.”