Canada Line opens, and Robertson cuts the ribbon

Post by Mike Klassen in

6 comments

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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.

6 Comments

Mike, you are sooooooooooooooooo wrong on this one. You could start by checking out the COV web-site.

Kinda making a habit of this kind of thing, aren't you?

Thanks, FC. He must have read our post ;-) I think we're generally above average in our accuracy when compared to traditional sources, but we did suggest he would show up. The story has been revised accordingly. Enjoy!

There's an ad in today's Sun newspaper advertizing Mayor Robertson's presence at the City Hall station at noon today.

Considering ad space deadlines, it appears he had this planned for at least a couple of days.

Just because the process of building the line may have been problematic/controversial does not make the finished product evil. One can still celebrate the awesomeness of a new transit line without implying that the process of getting it built was all roses and sunshine.

Bob you have got to be kidding. Gregor fought this Canada Line project all the way and now he's having political amnesia when there is a photo op involved. I can only imagine that all the merchants who lost their homes and businesses on Cambie must be asking what Gregor was doing with such a big smile on his face at official launch events. Appropriate that he was apparently handing out cake at the Cambie/Broadway station. he must be a distante relative of Marie Antoinnette.

Please just try doing just a bit of research before posting. The bored tunnel would likely go under 10th Ave, so businesses along Broadway would be affected very little. Besides less impact on Broadway businesses and bus service, 10 Ave is higher than Broadway meaning the stations would be higher relative to Broadway and it would take less time to access the stations.

Politicians are elected to do a job and Gregor's job is mayor of Vancouver. It is his responsibility to represent the city at such events. As large projects take years to finish, it is quite common for the ones that championed them are not around anymore while ones that questioned aspects of the project are around for the opening.

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