MLA Ma’s Ambitious Plan to Find a Collective Transit Solution

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By Gagandeep Ghuman, Global Canadian

April 24th, 2018, A transit bus making its way from Phibbs Exchange to Lions Gate would have to pass through Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure jurisdiction, then move into District of North Vancouver along Main Street, then into City of North Vancouver on Esplanade, and then back into DNV on Marine Drive, skim by First Nations land, enter West Vancouver before making its way to the provincial Lions Gate.

The 40 minute trip could see the bus move along at least six different jurisdictions just to make a routine journey. It’s the kind of scenario that prompted NDP MLA Bowinn Ma to initiate an Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning project, short for Instep, an apt description of what is needed in North Shore before viable transit solutions can be found, she says.

“Everyone has different ideas about how to resolve transportation issues on the North Shore. We have so many different transportation agencies that exist out here and there has been a lack of collective vision about transit and transportation that is agreed upon by all the municipalities, by the province, TransLink and by the federal government,” she says.

Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning project, she says, marks the beginning of such a singular vision with an aim to finding short and long term solutions to the challenge of congestion and transit in the area. Ma is the government’s parliamentary secretary for TransLink.

The project has four broad targets: Assess North Shore transportation needs and the gaps in fulfilling the needs, create objectives that everyone agrees upon, produce a short list of short-term and long-term options, and create a long-term framework in the North Shore to discuss and address any issues related to transportation.

MLA Ma said all three municipalities have shown a keen interest in brainstorming and implementing solutions for traffic issue most people living on the North Shore are painfully aware of. Bringing all stakeholders was the first yet most crucial step, she says.

“Getting everyone on the same page is an important step in moving towards something larger here because it has been challenging to mobilise government funding,” she said. “If one politicians is advocating for a third bridge and another is advocating for sky train, and another one is for a tunnel, and yet another one is advocating for gondolas, there are all coming to their provincial MLA for money but it’s not clear which of those ideas should go forward.

There will be two parts to how the project moves forward. There will be a steering committee with elected officials and senior executives, and a staff working group, which will have officials from TransLink, BC Ministry of Transportation, as well as staff from North Shore Staff Transportation Committee.

The staff working group will bring some short term ideas to the steering committee, which would take it to TransLink, the lead agency working on the 30-year transportation strategy for Metro Vancouver. The project has ambitious and aggressive deadlines, with the first report expected in June 2018.

“TransLink is revisiting its plan this summer and we want our plan to be integrated into their plan and at that point we will have to reconvene and see what the next steps are. It may not be everything that we want to get in there but it will get TransLink to take into consideration what we are taking to them,” she said.

MLA Ma said it has taken this long to talk about transit solutions because the North Shore simply wasn’t a priority for the previous BC Liberal government.

“That is a huge factor. I don’t think there are easy transportation solutions as it requires integration with land use planning and that can be a challenging thing. But we are willing to look at our land use plans and we are willing to look at our overall system and have a hard conversation that is required for us to get people moving on the North Shore again,” she said.

Read the whole story By Gagandeep Ghuman at The Global Canadian.