CON­VER­SA­TIONS THAT MAT­TER

Vancouver Sun - - CITY -

Light rapid tran­sit. LRT. Do we want it? Do we need it? Why would we want it and what are its ben­e­fits?

Light rail tran­sit is an idea whose time came and went, and it is try­ing to make a come­back.

Van­cou­ver used to have it: It was called the street­car. As a tran­sit sys­tem, it served the city well. Set out as a grid, it al­lowed rid­ers to eas­ily get from point A to point B. The grid has helped shape many of the city’s favourite neigh­bour­hoods.

Street­cars put peo­ple on the streets and along the way in­jected life into Ker­ris­dale, Dun­bar, Kits, Cam­bie, Main, Granville, Kingsway and Hast­ings streets. From 1890 to 1958, B.C. Elec­tric built and op­er­ated in­terur­ban trains and street­car lines through­out Metro Van­cou­ver and into the Fraser Val­ley.

By the 1940s, the Lower Main­land fol­lowed the rails-to-rub­ber trend that was sweep­ing through­out North Amer­ica. Buses, some elec­tric, most diesel pow­ered, re­placed the street­car.

Four decades later, SkyTrain was in­tro­duced and it has helped move peo­ple over long dis­tances, and quickly. How­ever, for some ur­ban plan­ners, SkyTrain is not seen as a com­mu­nity builder but as an ex­pen­sive peo­ple mover.

Patrick Con­don says LRT com­ple­ments a larger tran­sit net­work, saves tax­pay­ers money and puts peo­ple on the street and has the po­ten­tial to shape the com­mu­ni­ties it serves.

Which leads to the ques­tion: Why has it taken so long to get back to a good idea?

We in­vited one of LRT’s strong­est lo­cal ad­vo­cates, an ur­ban de­signer, plan­ner and pro­fes­sor, Patrick Con­don, to join us for a Con­ver­sa­tion That Mat­ters about why it’s time to turn our at­ten­tion away from SkyTrain and back to LRT. Si­mon Fraser Uni­ver­sity’s Cen­tre for Di­a­logue presents Con­ver­sa­tions That Mat­ter. Join vet­eran Broad­caster Stuart McNish each week for an im­por­tant and en­gag­ing Con­ver­sa­tion about the is­sues shap­ing our fu­ture. See the video at van­cou­ver­sun.com/tag/con­ver­sa­tions-that­mat­ter

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Patrick Con­don

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