Study to explore extending SkyTrain to North Vancouver

VANCOUVER — Could the next stop on the SkyTrain be North Vancouver? The B.C. government wants to find out.

The province announced Tuesday it would begin a study this summer into the feasibility of a rapid transit line using a fixed-link — meaning a bridge or tunnel — to connect downtown Vancouver to the Lonsdale commercial core of North Vancouver.

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The study is being paid for by the province, the District of North Vancouver and the cities of Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver.

“Commuters on the North Shore are frustrated with congestion,” Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in a statement. “With this feasibility study, we’re exploring potential solutions that help people move around more easily, which will improve quality of life.”

The possibility of rapid transit connecting Vancouver with the North Shore was among the recommendations last year in a transportation planning project led by Bowinn Ma, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale.

It recommended studying a 3.2-kilometre Lonsdale Quay-Waterfront Station tunnel, even though that is the deepest and widest part of Burrard Inlet.

Ma said traffic congestion and housing affordability are some of the problems that could be alleviated if a rapid transit link were possible across Burrard Inlet.

“Over the years, the high cost of housing has forced people to move further from the places they work, resulting in longer commutes and serious traffic issues,” she said.

Greg Holmes of the Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Association said a rapid transit connection is something the North Shore business community largely supports, but there are some who believe a SkyTrain crossing Burrard Inlet might bring some “undesirable elements.”

“Ultimately, we’ve got a finite amount of space. It is water on one side, mountains the other and that will never change,” Holmes said. “We all agree that there’s no one magic solution … so anything that can get people out of their vehicles is going to be absolutely crucial to the survival of business.”

The study would also consider how a rapid-transit system could open up land for affordable housing development. Options for expanding Burrard Inlet’s ferry network beyond the current SeaBus would also be examined.

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