A motion is coming to city council next Tuesday to bring back Vancouver’s summer streetcar.
NPA Coun. Elizabeth Ball initiated the motion to investigate options for funding the Downtown Historic Railway, which has transported over 130,000 passengers between Olympic Village and Granville Island over the past 15 years. The city cancelled funding for the streetcar in April, but Ball said council only recently became aware of the budget cut.
“The motion is to explore the options for funding the streetcar and hopefully that we could bring it back…I’d like to see it operating in two weeks,” said Ball.
Volunteers handle the operations of the streetcar, while the city pays for maintenance, which usually costs $40,000 per year. The Downtown Historic Railway would have needed $100,000 this year to keep running.
NPA Coun. George Affleck seconded Ball’s motion.
“We passed a motion at last council for $20,000 for 10 minutes of fireworks and had no problem passing that unanimously. Why we can’t find $80,000 to $100,000 for a train that will run all summer is beyond me. It’s just ridiculous,” said Affleck.
Ball said the money to fund the streetcar could come from the Vancouver Greenest City Fund, which dedicates $2 million to finance projects that make the city more sustainable. Dale Laird, president of the Transit Museum Society, said the streetcar is one of the most sustainable modes of transit.
“This project fits right into the criteria for that fund,” said Laird. “You can’t get very much greener than a streetcar. In fact, it’s greener than a trolley bus.’
Ball said the streetcar is a safe form of transportation that appeals to people of all ages.
“I think that it’s just critically important that we don’t just do away with everything that appeals to seniors and children and young people in the city because it’s expedient,” said Ball.
According to Ball, the streetcar is an important part of Vancouver’s heritage and its loss would be a blemish on the city’s reputation.
“When tourists come to Vancouver, they don’t come for one thing. They come for a whole experience and a package. And this is certainly one of the things that people loved doing.”