What are TransLink’s plans for 2024 and beyond?

Plus, a big smelly problem for the regions wastewater

Good morning,

A big thanks to Dustin, who subbed in on Friday’s newsletter. They did me a huge favour on a day that was looking tight in terms of scheduling!

Today’s newsletter gets a little bit more wonky, but is about two issues that really matter if you live in a city — transit and wastewater. The second is obviously something we don’t think about but is critical for a functioning city.

Let’s get into it!

— Geoff Sharpe, Vancity Lookout editor


Monday: 8 🌡️ 3 | ☁️

Tuesday: 8 🌡️ 4 | 🌧️

Wednesday: 7 🌡️ 2 | 🌧️


What are TransLink’s plans for 2024 and beyond?

What happened: TransLink released their 2024 Investment Plan, a document required for any fare increases and new programs. In it, they outline the planned expansion for the year and expected fare increases in the coming decade. This is done every three years to create a new 10-year plan. 

Expansion: The plan envisions a number of expansions, including a three percent expansion of bus service; beginning SeaBus daily service 15 minutes earlier; more peak service on the Canada Line; and expanding HandyDART late-night service. 

  • The three percent expansion means TransLink will increase service on 60 bus routes, beginning in September, according to Urbanized. Many buses in the outer Metro Vancouver regions will also see expanded late-night hours. 

Fees: The plan envisions fare increases of four percent next year, three percent in 2025 and 2026 and then two percent increases until 2033. The final price for a one-zone stored value payment would be $3.15 by 2033, according to Urbanized. 

  • These expansion plans, and the associated costs, are needed because of the growth in the region. Usage trends are also requiring changes, with the South-East seeing a 120 percent increase in ridership compared to pre-pandemic levels. Overcrowding is becoming a major concern, with one-third of bus trips in Vancouver, Surrey and Langley feeling the crunch. 

Driving the problems: One of the biggest problems facing TransLink — like any issue these days — is funding. But unlike the average person, TransLink is facing a shortfall of $4.7 billion dollars in the next 10 years, according to Global. Beyond 2025, pandemic-era funding is expected to end, and falling gas tax revenue from more EV vehicles (a good thing) is driving down that expected revenue (a bad thing). 

  • The challenge: There is a shortfall of $2.8 billion in fare revenue from the pandemic. The system is inherently reliant on other levels of government to fund it, especially the provincial and federal governments.

What comes next: TransLink is required to conduct public consultations, which have already begun and will go on until April 5, 2024. There will also be final approval by the TransLink board of directors on increasing fares for July 1 of 2.3 percent, which was a requirement from the province and federal government for TransLink to receive emergency pandemic funding, according to Urbanized.


🏢 9: The number of storeys that a new building in Olympic Village at Quebec Street and East 3rd Avenue will have for office space and creative industrial space. [Urbanized]

📈 57%: The percentage of BC renters that said price was more important to them than location, which may explain why so many people are moving east. Alberta experienced a huge increase in interprovincial immigration, with 45,194 people moving there from January to September 2023. [Vancouver Sun]

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Wastewater sewage a real stinky problem for the region

The entire Metro Vancouver region is dealing with big ol’ stinky problem — the costs associated with wastewater treatment. So how did we get to this situation?

What happened: The key recent story driving the news is about the expected costs for the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant. It was originally expected to cost $700 million, but according to CBC, it is now expected to cost $3.86 billion — an increase of about 450 percent. 

  • Metro Vancouver terminated the contract with the provider because of higher costs and delays, with both sides suing each other. Residents of the North Shore will see an increase on their yearly bill of $725 for 30 years, while Vancouver will see a cost increase of $140. 

Elsewhere…: Don’t get too smug Vancouver, the city has its own funding challenges. The Iona Island wastewater treatment plant is expected to cost $9.9 billion and has a question mark about how much Vancouver will have to contribute towards it, according to Vancouver is Awesome. The province has committed $250 million and the hope is Ottawa will help pay for it, and borrow money from the Canada Infrastructure Bank. 

  • A study from Ernst & Young showed that the average Canadian infrastructure megaproject was 39 percent over budget and one year behind schedule.

What the heck is going on?: Part of the reason for the big price tag and upgrades is because the federal government requires secondary treatment of waste water, which removes organic matter from the water, according to Urbanized.

The current plant only deals with primary treatment, the minimum standard, which is essentially large lumps, according the Tyee. The deadline for completing this is 2030. It’s one reason why the region is asking for help from Ottawa.

  • Uh oh: The Iona project is already five years behind schedule for when the wastewater plant needs to be operational.


Discover your new dream job in Vancouver:


🍺 Metro Vancouver has approved a plan to allow drinking in regional parks, specifically Boundary Bay, Campbell Valley, Capilano River, Derby Reach and Iona Beach. [CTV]

🏗️ While the US has flagged a Chinese manufacturer, whose cranes are used at ports throughout the Lower Mainland, for privacy issues, the Canadian government says there are no security concerns associated with them. [Vancouver Sun]

👮 The Vancouver Police Chief noted that while people are right to be concerned about public safety after a sexual assault in Stanley Park, they say the number of stranger attacks throughout the city has fallen by more than half. [CityNews]

🏊️ Parents are having trouble getting their kids into swim lessons. This is partially to do with problems stemming from the pandemic, and fewer swim instructors. [Vancouver is Awesome]

🥳 Is Vancouver still a no-fun city? That’s what one of Canada’s top live entertainment companies has said after their festival was denied a permit by park board staff. The event had originally received preliminary approval back in January but was not approved after concerns over noise in the neighbourhood. [Vancouver Sun]

🪧 International students are raising concerns about the change by the BC government when it comes to permanent residency for international students. The old rules allowed international graduate students to receive a permanent residency visa with proof of a job offer. Now, the province’s new rules require a student to have a full-time, one-year job offer in order to combat predatory recruiters to take advantage of the system. [Vancouver Sun]


Urbanarium CityDebate #16: Reduce Building Code Regulations | UBC Robson Square | March 26, 7 pm | Join moderator Francis Bula, and speakers from either side for this debate | Tickets $15

Chat with Hon. Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing of BC | 3740 Hasting St. | March 28, 12 pm | Come see the Minister and have lunch with The Vietnamese Professionals Association of B.C. | Tickets $17

Vancouver Tech & Finance Networking Event | Isabelle’s | March 29, 9 pm | Come meet and network with others in the tech and finance space | Tickets $12

Easter Events at Vancouver Community Centres | Various locations | Check your local community centre for events times and dates, most are doing something!

9th Annual Big Easter Run | Jericho Beach | March 30, 12 pm | Come by with your kids, includes 5km/10km and 1km-3km | Register

Easter Egg Hunt | Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden | March 31, 11 am | Come by for a magic show and the easter egg hunt, for children 12 and under | Tickets $7

Juice Bar Wine Fair and Opening Par | The American | March 31, 2 pm-12 am | Come try wines from around the globe | Tickets $25-$40


This this the most authentic Mexican food in Vancouver?

I asked readers of our Lookout food newsletter what story they were most interested in. And the answer — it wasn’t even close! — was to review an authentic Mexican restaurant. I reviewed it last week and it was so good, I had to write about it immediately.

Tomorrow I’ll share my review. It’s a really special place. Zero flour tortillas, no California-style burritos. It’s a place using real corn tortillas, with blue corn brought from the Mexican state of Jalisco. In a crowded town with a growing number of Mexican restaurants, this place is keeping things traditional.

  • Robson has many Korean restaurants. But this one in particular deserves more attention.

  • Stay ahead of the NHL action with Hockey Recap's newsletter! Get game highlights and expert insights delivered to your inbox. Sign up for free today. [Sponsored]

  • The park board is installing netting from March 25 to 28 in Stanley Park, so there will be detours along the way. [Twitter]

  • Don’t make my mistake and pay full price for tickets to Japan. There are fares right now for only $443. [Vancouver is Awesome]

  • Did you know marsupials live in Metro Vancouver, and they’re causing real problems for Vancouver wildlife? It’s the opossum! [Vancouver is Awesome]

  • Here’s an interesting discussion on Reddit on the Vancouver housing situation for people aged 25-35. [Reddit]


This is a tricky one — how much is the Iona Wastewater Treatment Plant expected to cost?

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