A Burnaby politician says millions of dollars shouldn’t be spent just to make things look better.
A plan to spend an additional $6.3 million to add “accent lighting” along the SkyTrain’s Expo line in Burnaby is now on hold.
Burnaby council voted to return the project to staff as they feared it was ‘a matter of aesthetics’ and would not make walking or cycling along the SkyTrain line safer, according to the counselor. Alison Gu.
The city has already spent more than $3 million on the $9.8 million project, which plans to add colored lights that would shine on SkyTrain columns along the line from the Patterson area to Edmunds.
Council was asked to approve $6.3 million to complete the project, but Gu, who commutes by bicycle, said the project had failed to make cycling safer. Gu recently detailed driving along the section that has already been completed in the Metrotown area.
“I was disappointed with how it ended,” Gu said. “I don’t think it has achieved the main security objectives.
Gu said the lighting should not only be used to make the area prettier, adding that making cycling safer at night through lighting has been shown to encourage more women to cycle.
“We need to make investments to protect cyclists,” Gu said.
The design is similar to that done by Coquitlam for the Evergreen Line, with the large columns changing colors and patterns along North Road at the Burquitlam border.
The first phases cost $3.4 million, starting with lighting 12 columns of the Metrotown Skytrain station at Willingdon Avenue by December 2021.
A member of staff told council that more could be done to direct the lights to the ground by working with the contractor who completed the early stages of the work. The big issue, the council was told, is how this delay would affect the equipment order, as the supply chain “madness” has affected many city projects.
Mayor Mike Hurley said he was fine with returning the project to staff, as long as the delay was only a few weeks and didn’t increase the budget.
“I don’t want it to go up 40%,” Hurley said.
Staff also referenced a different project working with TransLink to improve safety along the Expo line. Com. Dan Johnston says better lighting is definitely needed in the Royal Oak area.
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.