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RAV rapidly approaching

June 22, 2005

RAV rapidly approaching

It seems like almost a decade that we've been working on making the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit Line (RAV) a reality, and finally — this August — construction will start. The project has not been without its hiccups, and it was dead-dead-dead in June, 2004.

Fortunately The Board, along with over 30 other major business, labour and tourism groups (including Tourism Vancouver, Business Council of British Columbia, BC Chamber of Commerce, Council of Tourism Associations of British Columbia, BC Trades Council and more) pulled together and pushed TransLink directors hard to breathe life back into RAV.

But that was then, and this is now.

There continue to be a few wobbles, including fears of the impact of construction to Cambie Street merchants. RAVCO is developing a Business Liaison Program to help address specific issues during the construction period. Communication is what this is all about: giving merchants notice of construction activities, discussing temporary public access if and when it's needed, working on parking issues and understanding customer access needs and sensitivities.

To help deal with RAV line business realities during construction, RAVCO is establishing Business Liaison and Communications Committees in Vancouver, Richmond and on Sea Island. They've also planned to hire a retail consultant to help small businesses along the RAV corridor plan for the construction and post-construction periods. RAVCO also plans to undertake market research along the corridor to help create customer attraction programs during the construction period.

The financial close for the project will happen by the end of this month, and RAVCO will issue a Final Project Report within 60 days of the final agreement. The Final Project Report is the business "due diligence" aspect of the Project and as such, will be a full reporting-out of RAVCO's procurement phase, including the final value-for-money analysis and the contract with InTransitBC (the SNC-Lavalin/Serco entity selected to design, build operate, maintain and partially finance the RAV line).

We've long said that the Vancouver-Richmond corridor has needed RAV. It is long overdue. We know that construction will cause disruptions — and well remember the construction of the original EXPO Line and the Millennium Line. But we all pulled through and have much better regional transportation system as a result.

Now all we need is to see the Northeast Sector Rapid Transit line proceed.

Bruce Rozenhart is a past director and chair of the Small Business Council, principal with COUNTERPOINT Communications and voluntary director of the Coalition FOR a Lower Mainland Rapid Transit Solution, a coalition of over 30 Lower Mainland business, labour and tourism organizations.

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