The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
RAV Line Rejected Again
CPP News Service
Despite intense lobbying from a variety of sources, especially BC’s
corporate class, the Translink board of directors stood by its original
decision and voted last week not to reconsider the controversial
Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Skytrain plan.
“It’s just too expensive and we’re not sure where all the money will
come from,” said Vancouver COPE City Councilor Raymond Louie, adding
that many board members are worried that the total costs of the
proposed line have not been finalized.
The board voted initially earlier this month to kill the project for
the same reasons.
There is widespread concern, as well as mounting evidence, that the
$1.5 billion construction price tag being promoted by the BC Liberal
government is unrealistically low. Reports also indicate there is
growing concern that the government’s insistence on having the system
run by a private for-profit firm, the Bombardier Corporation, will
grossly increase operating costs.
Furthermore, there have been many complaints, reportedly even from some
of the project’s supporters, that the provincial government is
withholding information about the costs and operating plans for the
proposed line and is expecting the board to approve it on this basis.
“We are being asked to vote on something that clearly has a shortfall
of funding, and hoping for a miracle,” said COPE Councilor David
Cadman. “Taxpayers wouldn't know the details of the RAV deal until it
The Canadian Union of Public employees, one of the unions working on
the lower mainland transit system, also lists many of the above
concerns in a comprehensive report to Translink.
It charged that the provincial government was relying on policies and
legislation similar to Bill 75, the Significant Projects Streamlining
Act, adopted last year, which gives cabinet ministers and the premier
special powers to override municipal or regional decisions on major
development projects and exempt them from much of the public reviews
and other checks normally associated with such projects.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, a long-time opponent of the RAV project
in its current form, told the Georgia Straight the he expected the
board to reject the plan.
He is among many lower mainland mayors who objects to the so-called
“public-private partnership,” or “P3,” worked out between Bombardier
and the Liberal government. The deal will guarantee the corporation of
minimum profit margin, with taxpayers making up the cost if revenues
from yearly riders of the line fall below a certain level.
Other mayors, like New Westminster’s Wayne Wright, see the P3 deal as a
gravy train for a corporate elite at taxpayers’ expense and insist it
should not go ahead unless the corporation is willing to take the risk
along with the revenues.
Meanwhile, RAV supporters, like Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum and
Councilor Marvin Hunt, who are also Liberal supporters, are still
hoping to push the Translink board to change their minds.
The BC Business Council, which represents BC’s large private sector
corporate entities says the project should go ahead despite these
concerns, since it would likely allow the region to access up to $900
million in federal funds—a position currently shared by Vancouver Mayor
Meanwhile, Translink staff is reportedly studying alternative rapid
transit plans to the current RAV proposal.
Coquitlam Mayor John Kingsbury told the media that he is certain some
form of rapid transit can be built between Richmond and Vancouver.