Traffic. Transit. Transportation. The three Ts were top of mind at an all-candidates meeting hosted by the North Vancouver Chamber on Thursday (Sept. 2), where North Vancouver candidates sought to sell their visions to a congestion-weary public.
Chamber CEO Patrick Stafford-Smith said the North Shore’s infamous traffic tie-ups are a threat to local business and asked candidates to outline their party’s plans to help.
Liberal incumbent Jonathan Wilkinson pointed to the $200-million Lower Lynn Improvement Project, which was started by the last Conservative government and then expanded under the Liberals, as being very nearly complete. He also noted his government’s record of funding transit improvements, including a new SeaBus and the North Shore RapidBus. Looking to the future, though, Wilkinson said something faster will be in order.
“I will tell you that the long-term answer with respect to transportation on the North Shore is getting rapid transit to the North Shore, and that's something that all three levels of government have been working on. I would say that we have made a lot of progress,” he said. “The North Shore is next on the list. That's going to be the piece of work that we are going to have to collectively do in terms of putting the funding into place, and doing the hard work to get going.”
NDP challenger Tammy Bentz acknowledged the North Shore’s transportation infrastructure hasn’t changed significantly in her 20 years here, and that “traffic sucks.”
“I know that the Liberal government has been working on this next step, and promised $400 million in transit, but then they called an election, so I guess I'm wary of their promises,” she said. “The NDP is looking to modernize and expand public transit. That's one of our big issues because we want everyday people to be able to get to work in other methods besides using their car.”
Bentz also made the link between transportation and affordable housing, saying if more people could live closer to work, they wouldn’t have to drive.
Conservative candidate Les Jickling acknowledged how the movement of goods and residents’ quality of life are impacted by daily traffic jams and said infrastructure was the way out, although he did not outline any specific plans or priorities.
“We have earmarked substantial funds for investments in infrastructure projects. There's been some announcements made already. There will be more announcements coming and what I can tell you is our leader is committed to infrastructure spending, and will work with the municipalities to identify the top priorities.”
Green Party candidate Archie Kaario agreed the Lonsdale corridor is due for rapid transit.
“The addiction to cars has to stop. Mass transit certainly is it,” he said, adding that e-bikes are highly efficient ways of getting around. “An appalling situation with respect to e-bikes is that the federal government, under the Liberals, still has GST on bikes. … That is clearly a disincentive for one of the most practical ways of getting around. The Green Party would certainly cancel GST on bikes.”
People’s Party candidate John Galloway agreed with the notion of rapid transit and suggested converting HOV lanes to electric vehicle lanes.