The City of North Vancouver is joining unionized transit workers in calling on TransLink to rethink its plan to move the Third Street bus depot to Burnaby.
Council passed a resolution unanimously Monday night asking the transit authority to work with unions and North Shore municipalities to find and fund a new location on this side of Burrard Inlet.
Speaking to council, Don MacLeod, president of Canadian Auto Workers 111, warned that closing to the depot would come at a cost to local employment and to TransLink’s environmental goals.
“Closing the depot means the North Shore will have less service. It also means North Vancouver will lose 250 decent local jobs. There will be higher costs and, of course, the environment will suffer,” he told council. “It does not makes sense to have the current fleet of 85 buses . . . driving empty every morning from Burnaby over the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and driving back empty at night.”
According to Raj Janjua, CAW 111 North Vancouver representative, 95 per cent of the North Shore’s 250 drivers live on the North Shore.
TransLink had set aside $40 million for a new North Shore depot several years ago, but those plans fell through.
“It’s time that we raise this again and push it and just don’t throw our hands up and say ‘We tried,’” said Coun. Don Bell. “I think we can try harder again.”
The bus depot has long drawn complaints from the surrounding residential neighbourhood, and council seemed to agree it should be moved, but just where to isn’t clear. City staff said there is nowhere within city limits that could host a new facility that size, though suggestions for several locations in the Districts of North Vancouver and West Vancouver came up.
ICBC’s land next to the West Vancouver bus depot came to mind for Coun. Craig Keating.
“ICBC is a provincial agency,” he said. “Now I hear that if you don’t pay your transit ticket, you’re not going to be able to renew your licence through ICBC, so clearly, TransLink and ICBC have something going on on the side when they want to. Here’s a great opportunity where they should be working together to find a site.”
Coun. Rod Clark, after noting he campaigned on closing the Third Street depot when he first ran for council in 1983, raised the possibility of sharing parking space with Capilano University, which is almost empty after 4:30 p.m. every day.
“Something like that has to occur, because you’re not going to find five acres or whatever it is that’s required in the City of North Vancouver, period. End of discussion,” he said
Some on council noted the hypocrisy of TransLink, which is tasked with increasing transit use, asking its drivers to commute to far-off depots every day.
“It’s crazy,” Bell said. “We’re trying to reduce commuting. That’s what bus driver’s do – help to reduce commuting.”
“We have a situation where TransLink seems to be saying: ‘Do as I say, but not as I do,’” said Coun. Linda Buchanan. “We’re asking our citizens to get out of their cars . . . and yet we’re asking our (bus) drivers to drive across the bridge, and come back so they can pick up the people who made that choice we’ve been asking them to do. It seems a bit ludicrous to me.”