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'Sparkle ponies and pixie dust'? Kennedy Stewart's Vancouver Loop promise critiqued by opponents


Kennedy Stewart says if re-elected as mayor, he would accelerate plans for the "Vancouver Loop" – a new SkyTrain line that would connect Metrotown to UBC.

Stewart and his team announced he would make the business case for the project and ask that the line be prioritized. It's already part of TransLink's 2050 vision.

"With having 44,000 people a day moving along this corridor, it is really, really busy," Stewart told reporters.

He added that with densification and population growth, the region will only get busier. The project is part of his Forward Together party's attempt to alleviate pressure on busy transit corridors and address climate change.

The proposed Vancouver Loop would connect with the Broadway SkyTrain extension and link UBC to Metrotown along 41st and 49th Avenues.

Werner Antweiler, a professor of Economics in UBC's Sauder School of Business, said the project is something that would be needed in the long-term.

"There is, of course, a significant demand from UBC students," he explained in an interview with CTV News. "But there's also going to be more development all along that line, especially in the Jericho Lands that will be developed by a group of Indigenous communities in in Vancouver – so we need to look at the future."

Vancouver can't go it alone. Although there's no pricetag and no timeline, what we do know is the multi-billion dollar project will need help from the province and the federal government to be completed.

Stewart acknowledged that challenge.

"What I have to do, what I've done before is to go off and get funding and continuing to convince folks this is a worthwhile investment," Stewart added.

Lisa Dominato, who is running for re-election as a city councillor with the ABC Party, said part of the issue is there's currently no funding for a line to UBC. She told CTV News Stewart just re-announced priorities already set.

"Perhaps the mayor is trying to deflect from the fact that he's supported roe pricing and transport pricing in the city," Dominato said. "Perhaps that's a deflection on his part."

ABC and Forward Together have exchanged harsh words around the issue of road pricing with Stewart accusing his opponents of misrepresenting his views.

Opposition parties say the biggest concern they hear is affordability. Colleen Hardwick, a city councillor who is now running for mayor with the TEAM slate, said she didn't think the project was needed now, and maybe not even in the future.

"I think that we can achieve much more in terms of distributed surface rail than spending all of this money on SkyTrain, but I just don't think it's in the cards … as we are staring down a potential recession," she told CTV News.

One challenge for Stewart is that other mayors have also made promises to deliver on projects from TransLink's long-term plan.

"I wish the mayor luck in getting this project prioritized," said Antweiler. "But the overall the TransLink plan actually is very sensible, because it also looks at rapid bus transit in many places where we wouldn't be looking at a subway system."

In 2018, Surrey's Doug McCallum won the hotly contested mayoral race after promising to scrap light rail and instead replace it with SkyTrain.

"It’s silly season, isn't it? And this is the kind of big announcement that's quite common when you get into election season. But to me, it's sparkle ponies and pixie dust," said Hardwick.

Municipal elections take place across the province Oct. 15. Top Stories

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