Mayors’ council approves SkyTrain to UBC, subway bid process unveiled

An eventual SkyTrain link to the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus overcame another hurdle Friday, winning a key vote at the TransLink Mayors’ Council.

The vote was near unanimous, with just the mayors of White Rock and Port Moody dissenting.

It follows a report to the council from TransLink staff which argued that SkyTrain technology was the only option capable of meeting the campus’ long-term ridership demands.

Late last month, Vancouver City Council also voted to back the extension.

“This needed to pass [Friday] for this to move ahead. And if it was voted down then SkyTrain was dead,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who acknowledged there are many more hurdles to go.

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Chief among those challenges is funding.

Currently, only a SkyTrain subway extension from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street is approved and funded, with an estimated price tag of about $2.83 billion.

A further extension to UBC is projected to cost an additional $3 million to $4 million, and neither the province nor the federal government have yet signed on to cover some of that cost.

The university itself, along with the Musequeam First Nation and the developers of the Jericho lands, however, have expressed interest in contributing.

On Friday, the provincial government also announced that the first phase of construction will make use of its controversial Community Benefits Agreements (CBA).

CBAs prioritize the use of local, First Nations, women, and apprentice workers, but require all contractors to use union labour. Critics warn the use of CBAs will increase the cost of publicly financed projects.

The announcement came as a part of the unveiling of the SkyTrain extension procurement process. Contractors have until April 2019 to attempt to qualify to bid for the project.

The province says early work on subway construction is slated to begin in early 2020.

-With files from Richard Zussman

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