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New study on growth of Broadway corridor highlights need for UBC SkyTrain extension

The report finds that the corridor is a key economic driver for Metro Vancouver's growth but traffic congestion and transit overcrowding is limiting that growth. Neetu Garcha has more.

A new study confirms what the University of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver have been saying for years: the Broadway corridor is good for business and needs better transportation.

The city and the university commissioned the study, which suggests the Broadway area between Commercial Drive and the Point Grey campus generates nearly one dollar for every $10 of the Metro Vancouver region’s GDP.

It also says the corridor accounts for eight per cent of all economic output and five per cent of the region’s resident population.

WATCH (Feb. 15, 2019): TransLink Mayors’ Council approves SkyTrain to UBC

TransLink Mayors’ Council approves SkyTrain to UBC
TransLink Mayors’ Council approves SkyTrain to UBC

All of the data in the study justifies the need for the Broadway SkyTrain extension to UBC, the study suggests.

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“Construction of a seamless rapid transit linkage along the full length of the Broadway corridor and beyond should dramatically improve connectivity for institutions, businesses and residents along the corridor, further unlocking the corridor’s economic potential and strengthening its contribution to the regional economy,” the study says.

READ MORE: Vancouver launches consultations on Broadway subway plan

“A range of transportation choices should be provided, ensuring appropriate infrastructure and service levels (speed, capacity, reliability) are maintained to enable efficient movement of people and goods,” it adds.

Vancouver city council has approved a partial rezoning freeze between Point Grey and Kitsilano in order to curb speculation ahead of the possible extension to UBC.

The extension has been approved by both city council and the TransLink Mayors’ Council, but funding and the business case have yet to be secured.

READ MORE: Majority support SkyTrain to UBC if school helps to pay for extension — poll

Construction is set to begin in 2020 on the already approved extension from Clark Drive to Arbutus Street along the Broadway corridor and is set to take five years.

The report says that extension will greatly improve the corridor on its own, increasing speed and reliability for residents and visitors.

Gordon Price, a former city planner and councillor and a fellow at Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, said the report proves the demand is there for when the SkyTrain extension comes.

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WATCH (March 9, 2019): Kitsilano residents call for more density ahead of SkyTrain extension

Kitsilano residents call for more density ahead of SkyTrain extension
Kitsilano residents call for more density ahead of SkyTrain extension

“The Broadway extension will be effectively packed from the moment it opens,” he said Sunday. “So any mistake that we can avoid is don’t underestimate.

“We know how to do build rapid transit … but we’ve tended to under-build. The Canada Line is a perfect example: we didn’t build it big enough. We can’t make the same mistake again.”

READ MORE: City of Vancouver approves partial rezoning freeze for future subway corridor

The study also makes the case for more residential housing to be built along the corridor to keep up with the number of jobs in the area.

A majority of that new housing should be built as affordable rentals, it adds, saying the high cost of housing is contributing to the widening gap between residents and jobs.

It’s one of four other pillars, besides transportation, that’s laid out, including creating an inclusive community along with economic and employment opportunities.

Price said the report lays out a vision for the future that city planners should follow.

WATCH (March 4, 2019): Calls for rezoning freeze along UBC SkyTrain corridor

Vancouver Green councillor calls for rezoning freeze along UBC subway/SkyTrain corridor
Vancouver Green councillor calls for rezoning freeze along UBC subway/SkyTrain corridor
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“The report says that we’re talking about a Broadway ecosystem, and I think that’s a pretty good metaphor,” he said Sunday.

“It’s not one single thing, it’s not just one SkyTrain line or these buildings or the jobs, it’s how they all interact in a region. You need to be thinking of it in a very big-picture way and you have to be thinking 100 years out.”

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