Imagine taking one out of every 10 workers in our region and putting them in a single place. Now, take a quarter of all Vancouver homes and do the same. Add in five post-secondary institutions, three hospitals, and more than 10,000 businesses, and you’ve got the conditions for a creative, dynamic community where businesses thrive, people are eager to work, and families want to build their lives.
This isn’t some imaginary place — this is Broadway, from Commercial Drive to the University of B.C. The City of Vancouver and UBC have released a joint report conducted by KPMG that reaffirms Broadway’s role as a critical economic driver, a significant source of housing and crucial transportation link for people living in municipalities across the Lower Mainland.
With a world-leading research and teaching university in UBC to the west and our busiest transit hub in Commercial-Broadway Station to the east, Broadway to UBC has all of the makings of a thriving economic hub. The approximately 13-kilometre stretch is an interconnected ecosystem of job centres, health and education hubs and housing that all work together to collectively generate nearly $1 out of every $10 in Metro Vancouver’s GDP, totalling $15.5 billion in direct economic output.
Daily, tens of thousands of people from municipalities such as Surrey, North Vancouver and Richmond make their way to Broadway and UBC to work, learn and access health services. This unique ecosystem means a medical student can live in Coquitlam, study at UBC and train at Vancouver General Hospital. It means start-ups can attract Mount Pleasant tech-hub talent while accessing downtown financial services. And it means families can live close to where they work thanks to diverse housing options, or commute from communities across Metro Vancouver using the region’s growing transit network.
Broadway isn’t without its challenges, however. Growing traffic congestion and transit overcrowding are limiting workforce productivity, impacting economic growth and quality of life. Thankfully, the extension of SkyTrain along Broadway to Arbutus is now fully funded and when completed in 2025, will bring much-needed relief to commuters. But until we build SkyTrain all the way to UBC, our region will remain disconnected from one of the most significant contributors to our region’s economic, social and cultural growth.
SkyTrain to UBC will enable the Broadway ecosystem to build on its strength as a hub for healthcare, life sciences, education and tech. It will also help meet our housing challenges by encouraging medium-income, transit-oriented rental buildings while allowing housing options at UBC to take pressure off of the regional market.
We are working hard to ensure a fully complete transportation link helps make life more affordable for all residents. Vancouver’s interim rezoning plans for Broadway will help curb speculation, encourage rental housing construction and minimize displacement. Vancouver is also looking into how to use rental-only zoning and innovative programs like the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Project to create homes geared to households making between $30,000 and $80,000 a year. UBC is also aggressively pursuing innovative and affordable on-campus housing options for students, faculty and staff, allowing more members of the UBC community to live close to where they work and learn.
We know that SkyTrain to UBC can finally give Broadway the high-quality transportation connection our region is counting on — helping everyone benefit from the education, employment, research, health and technology hubs that make Metro Vancouver the best place in Canada to live, study, work and play.
Santa Ono is president and vice-chancellor of the University of B.C. Kennedy Stewart is mayor of Vancouver.
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