Category Archives: Tourism

Metro column: Ferry boss laments state of maritime travel

22 June 2009 05:35

Just because Ihab Shaker is disenchanted with the state of passenger ferries in Metro Vancouver doesn’t mean he’s planning on sailing away from the region anytime soon.

The owner of Coastal Link Ferries — which serves walk-on commuters between Bowen Island and downtown Vancouver — fumes over the uneven playing field for his privately run service, and the layers of bureaucracy he is constantly up against.

But far from giving up in the face of adversity, the sea captain is gamely expanding his business.

Since the winter, he has tripled the number of sailings between Bowen’s Snug Cove and Vancouver’s Coal Harbour. An upswing in customers has naturally followed.

More recently, according to Shaker, he has reached an agreement with the Port of Vancouver to construct a new, albeit modest, terminal for his ferry between the SeaBus station and the Helijet landing pad on the south shore of Burrard Inlet. Continue reading

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Filed under British Columbia, Commuting, Environment, Marine transport, Politics, Tourism, Transportation

Metro column: Politicians on slow train to nowhere

25 May 2009 05:22

This Wednesday, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will travel to Portland to speak at the Cascadia Rail Partnership Conference — a gathering of transport pundits, policy wonks and politicians focused on bringing high-speed rail to the corridor stretching between Vancouver and Eugene, Ore.

The group should be especially energized, thanks to last month’s funding announcement by U.S.
President Barack Obama — pledging $8 billion for high-speed rail along major population corridors, including the Pacific Northwest.

But frustrated Vancouverites stuck in airport queues or traffic jams en route to the U.S. West Coast would be wise not to envision themselves rocketing down the I-5 corridor in a Shinkansen bullet train just yet. Continue reading

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Filed under British Columbia, Cascadia, Commuting, Japan, Portland, Seattle, Tourism, Transportation, Vancouver

Metro column: Deeply troubling issues behind Seattle-Vancouver train expansion

It is astonishing that a long-awaited second passenger train connecting Vancouver to Seattle is still in serious limbo.
Why the hold-up? The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) wants $1,500 per day from Amtrak to serve this train. Not surprisingly, the U.S. rail operator refuses to cave to their financial demands.
British Columbians should be furious. Afterall, $3 million of their tax dollars helped provide extra rail capacity for this initiative. Continue reading

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Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, Cascadia, Commuting, Politics, Portland, Seattle, Tourism, Transportation

Ritz-Carlton tower site is not dead… yet.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel-condominium project, which was written off as dead because of the ongoing economic crisis (and associated financing struggles) in February, may still have at least a heartbeat.

The sleek highrise, designed by Arthur Erickson with a unique twisting design, was slated for construction on Georgia Street across from the new Shangri-La hotel and condominium project.

The prestigious Ritz-Carlton hotel was to occupy the first 20 floors of the soaring 58-storey tower, which would have been the second tallest building in downtown Vancouver. Continue reading

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Filed under Architecture, Industry, Media, Tourism, Urban Planning

Metro column: Maritime Centre story turns political

Kevin Falcon, B.C.’s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister, will meet with federal counterpart John Baird in Ottawa this week to iron out funding details for a number of stimulus projects slated for British Columbia.

While transportation programs have garnered much of the attention and promised cash to date from senior levels of government, municipalities in Metro Vancouver are putting forth other shovel-ready projects, from housing to hospitals to water treatment facilities.

And then there’s the National Maritime Centre for the Pacific and the Arctic, slated for construction near Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver.

The centre promises to be a major cultural attraction, complete with historic artifacts, nautical exhibits, and boat festivals. And it is considered key in revitalizing the historic Lower Lonsdale waterfront area. It also has the potential to become a tourism showpiece for the region. Continue reading

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Filed under Culture, Heritage, Neighbourhoods, Politics, Tourism, Transportation

Metro column: Will Olympic Line leave a transit legacy?

09 February 2009 05:41

With the one-year countdown to the 2010 Winter Games just days away, it’s a bit depressing to see so many British Columbians dwelling strictly on bad news associated with the event.

While well-publicized financial troubles connected to the Olympic Village are indeed troubling, they won’t cancel out the benefits arising from the Games — including everything from new recreation facilities to the build-out of related infrastructure such as the Canada Line.

Another project timed with the Games goes by the name of, appropriately enough, The Olympic Line. It is Vancouver’s modern streetcar initiative, and it could usher in a new era for public transit in and around the city’s downtown peninsula. Continue reading

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Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, British Columbia, Commuting, Environment, Heritage, Neighbourhoods, Portland, Seattle, Tourism, Transportation

Metro column: Vancouver deserves better rail travel

January 26, 2009

Last week’s inauguration of Barack Obama has not only raised the hopes of those looking for a major shift in United States foreign policy, it has also changed expectations for that country’s urban and transportation policy.

The president-elect, the thinking goes, will be looking to stimulate the economy by investing in major infrastructure projects in cities — including those devoted to public transport such as railways. Canada’s politicians would be wise to follow that lead.

Rail travel — while long neglected in this country — is now being recognized as a smart alternative to worsening road congestion. Compared to automobile or even air traffic, it also makes good environmental sense, producing less carbon emissions. Which makes it hard to understand the sorry state of inter-city passenger rail in this region.
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Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, British Columbia, Cascadia, Commuting, Environment, Japan, Osaka, Politics, Seattle, Tourism, Transportation