Project will assist climate goals and reduce congestion while creating new jobs, says Faoro

The time has come for the federal government to step up with funding to complete the proposed extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line to the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus, CUPE BC President Paul Faoro says in a letter to federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna.

In the December 3 letter, Faoro notes that current system expansion funding has provided resources to support the Broadway Subway Project, an extension of the existing line from Clark Street through to Arbutus Street in Vancouver. But furthering that expansion to UBC represents a critical investment in the future well-being of the region.

“UBC is one of B.C.’s largest employers and sees 150,000 daily trips by travellers originating from a wide catchment area,” writes Faoro. “Currently, only 80,000 of those trips use public transit with more than 1,000 busses flowing through the UBC transit exchange each day. This system is already under immense pressure, as evidenced by the more than 500,000 pass-ups on the Broadway-UBC corridor each year.”

Faoro cites a 2019 study by the City of Vancouver and University of British Columbia, which concluded that SkyTrain is the only option to address the transit needs of the Broadway corridor in the coming half century. That research is consistent with both Translink’s projected ridership demand and the federal government’s climate targets. As Ottawa now looks to support a post-pandemic recovery, says Faoro, the UBC SkyTrain Extension delivers on a number of key recovery goals.

“Not only will the project help meet our climate targets, it will expand affordable access to post-secondary education options for students, and provide greater community access to the research facilities, medical health resources and community services of the university,” he says, adding that the current Broadway Subway Project is expected to produce more than 13,000 person-years of new employment. If aligned with the current project completion dates, the expanded project would extend those employment opportunities from 2025 through to 2030.

CUPE represents more than 6,000 workers at UBC who provide support, instruction, research, trades, clerical and ancillary services to the more than 55,000 students studying at Canada’s second largest post-secondary institution. CUPE BC also represents the nearly 1,000 transit workers who serve as attendants, control operators, maintenance and technical staff for the SkyTrain rapid transit network across B.C.’s South Coast.

Faoro further recommends that the project be constructed using a community benefit agreement (CBA) model.

“CBAs have been used in communities across North America for more than twenty years to ensure that large publicly-funded infrastructure projects are constructed by qualified local workers earning a fair wage, and that they support the hiring of Indigenous Peoples, apprentices and women in trades,” he says.

Read the entire letter here.