Mayor Meggs? Sunday's Province newspaper knows who the real mayor is, too.
Gregor Robertson, who exploited the Canada Line for the biggest bump of his political career, will be at today's ribbon cutting for the Canada Line. According to the City of Vancouver website, Robertson will be giving out free cake at the Broadway/City Hall Station today. The irony is not lost on City Hall watchers, however. For years Robertson advocated compensation for Cambie Line businesses, but now that he's mayor he's giving out crumbs.
How will it look in the eyes of Susan Heyes that the man she worked with in a campaign to gain rights for Cambie Street businesses will stand grinning and cutting a ribbon with the Premier, the new BC Liberal MLA for his riding of Vancouver-Fairview Margaret MacDiarmid, and a representative of Canada's Tory government? While Heyes has never disparaged the Line itself, she has been the symbol for several business people affected by years of construction. It must be hard to see a former ally celebrating something that wreaked so much havoc for her community.
Gregor, like any good politician, exploited an issue to get his otherwise lacklustre MLA career onto the front pages. But now the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, and Robertson has to be seen to be supportive of the Canada Line. He must also be seen pushing ahead on rapid transit along Broadway out to UBC.
An engineer who works on rapid transit projects and is familiar with bored tunnel construction told me it's naive to think that digging under the street will have no impact on the surrounding surface. Just station construction alone requires significant street closures for extended periods. Cambie Street, I'm told, has some of the city's most significant water mains and electrical infrastructure underneath, which definitely affected the method and duration of construction. In short, the impacts were undersold from the get-go.
For rapid transit on Broadway, pegged at $2.8 billion today, we can expect similar challenges in construction. With the precedent set now in the Heyes Cambie street compensation, you can bet that a good chunk of money is being set aside to mitigate impacts on Broadway businesses.
Is Robertson out advocating for this at Translink's Council of Mayors? So far he has been silent on this topic. It's possible that costs of constructing underground transit, coupled with resistance from the affected community, could spell the end of the UBC line. For critics of the Province's plan, this would be a good thing.
For Gregor Robertson, it will be like dancing on the head of a pin. One false move, and he may stir the wrath of Kitsilano businesses and residents, or rankle taxpayers as construction costs skyrocket.
In reality though, by the time a shovel goes into the ground for any westbound rapid transit in Vancouver, Robertson will likely either be in Victoria, or back on Cortes Island. Nobody blames Larry Campbell or Raymond Louie for poor decisions on Canada Line today, and no one will point the finger at Robertson if things go sideways on the UBC line.