Mayor Kennedy Stewart said today he would accelerate plans for a new SkyTrain extension in South Vancouver, if he is successfully re-elected in the upcoming October 15 election.
The "plan" for the South Vancouver SkyTrain was included in the "Major Transit Network Planning Studies" section of TransLink's Transport 2050: 10-Year Priorities proposal.
Referred to in the proposal as the 41st/49th Ave Corridor, the plan would "connect Metrotown and UBC and serve Langara College and Oakridge Town Centre along the way."
Stewart's plan is to connect this extension with the existing Expo Line, the impending Broadway Subway, and the approved Millennium Line UBC Extension, creating a so-called "Vancouver Loop" that would connect 18 of 23 neighbourhoods in Vancouver, including: Grandview Woodland, Mount Pleasant, Fairview, Kitsilano, Point Grey, UBC, Dunbar, Arbutus Ridge, Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale, South Cambie, Oakridge, Riley Park, Sunset, Kensington Cedar-Cottage, Victoria-Fairview, Renfrew-Collingwood, and Killarney.
"Completing the Vancouver Loop will help us meet our livability and climate emergency goals," Stewart said. "I fought hard at TransLink Mayors’ Council to extend the Broadway Subway to UBC and secured millions of dollars from partners to fund it. If re-elected, I will fight just as hard to build the Vancouver Loop extension and expand rapid transit in South Vancouver."
Eagle-eyed observers may notice that Stewart's statement about the UBC Extension is a little misleading. In July 2021, the Government of Canada agreed to fund up to 40% of the project, but the remaining funding for the project has yet to be fully secured. UBC's website for the project says that "TransLink is currently undertaking technical planning work."
In his announcement, Stewart's party, Forward Together, emphasized the urgency of expanding transit in Vancouver, citing the climate emergency as the primary reason.
"We are in a climate emergency, which is why expanding rapid transit is so important. It will get people out of cars, alleviate congestion, lower emissions, improve our health, save time and money, and accelerate our push to become a 15-minute city," said Tesicca Truong, who is running for city council.
That "15-minute city" idea is a nod to the urban-planning concept of a city designed where the essential needs of residents can all be met within a 15-minute walk.
A timeline for the 41st Avenue to 49th Avenue South Vancouver SkyTrain extension was never detailed, and Stewart's announcement also did not detail his plan to "accelerate" the project would entail.