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Metro Vancouver group fights to improve transit in River District

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A developer concept map, found in the River District Farmers’ Market, of upcoming developments in the River District. Photo: Stuart Neatby
A developer concept map, found in the River District Farmers Market, of upcoming developments in the River District. Photo by Stuart Neatby

Reported by Stuart Neatby

Deborah Littman was shocked to find out that several highly populated River District neighbourhoods south of Marine Drive had no bus service.

The lead organizer of the Metro Vancouver Alliance (MVA), an advocacy organization composed of labour, church, community and environmental groups, said that the lack of service is a serious oversight on the part of Vancouver planners.

“What kind of city planning is it that you build an entire neighbourhood and then think about the transit routes?” she said.

Advocacy group gives community members a voice

Littman and other members of the alliance have formed RouteSpeak, a committee whose goal is to push TransLink to improve transit service in South Vancouver by bringing together large numbers of affected residents. RouteSpeak members spent last summer organizing ‘river walks’, community canvasses of the River District in order to document concerns about transit accessibility. Littman believes that one-on-one engagements with community members will help build specific proposals that the organization hopes to present to TransLink officials this week.

“We’re trying to change the power relationship with Translink,” she said.

“So we’re really trying to say ‘look you are not just doing this consultation lark that you want us to do.’”

Mark Friesen, chair of the fundraising committee of MVA, believes that these small community-level conversations could help residents influence TransLink’s services in the community.

“Get together. If you live in the same neighbourhood, talk about that. How does transit suck? How could it be improved in your neighbourhood?” said Friesen.

TransLink won’t add new routes to Kent Avenue

Chris Bryan, senior communications advisor for TransLink, said that the company has plans to add service to the River District area, including improved service in the 100 bus route along Marine Drive. He said that there were no new routes planned along Kent Avenue, which runs through the district.

“As far as the River District goes, it’s still a bit of a walk. It’s further than we’d like it to be for those people there,” said Bryan.

He also said that a transit funding announcement was expected this week by Metro Vancouver mayors, which might bring about improvements to bus service.

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