Three members of the CSU race by car, bike and bus in an “aggravating” battle of the commuters
Freya Wasteneys, Features Editor
Three members of the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) left Capilano University in a screech of tire rubber on Feb. 27 at 3:30 pm. The commuter’s battle, dubbed “The Aggravating Race”, was the CSU’s attempt to demonstrate the need for transit improvements in order to gain support for the proposed North Shore B-Line. Bound for Delaney’s Coffee House in Dundarave was Vice-President External Noah Berson by car, Vice-President Academic Joshua Millard by bike and CSU President and Vice-President Equity and Sustainability Anna Rempel by the 255 bus. The results were as predicted, with Berson arriving first at a time of 28 minutes, followed by Millard on the bike at 47 minutes, while Rempel clocked in at an hour and six minutes on the bus.
The competitors were greeted by a crowd of locals, students and media supporters at the finish line. Councillor Nora Gamboli was one of the 30 to 40 people in attendance and handed out surveys regarding the proposed project, set to be addressed March 4.
Leading up to the event a series of council meetings and marches have seen a good turnout from both students and other members of the North Shore community, though the issue continues to be hotly debated, and many in the community are still opposed to the project. Protestors for and against the B-Line have marched in the streets of Ambleside, voicing strong opinions on both sides.
Millard noted that CapU students are key drivers in favour of this project, with some reaching out to the CSU and others sending letters directly to city councillors. “Even if we don’t get the results we want, it’s good to know that we’ve had an incredible impact and changed the conversation,” said Millard. “If it wasn’t for the students coming together collectively on this issue, as well as other groups coming out of the woodwork, then the opposition would have killed the project weeks ago.”
The race was a final attempt to bring attention to the issue and bring together diverse voices and perspectives. Even so, Berson believes that they are still underrepresented, since many of the people who come to consultations are those who have free time and tend to be the least affected by transit decisions.
“Luckily we have our role at the student union which has allowed us to go and advocate, but you have to imagine that there are so many folks out there who don’t have two and a half hours to spare on a week night to come out to consultations, or even 15 minutes to fill out a form online,” said Berson. “Through this event the hope was to have a bunch of those folks come out, but the reality is that we are going to be underrepresented no matter what we do.
Students are perhaps most impacted by transit issues on the North Shore, which can have a significant impact on class attendance and quality of life. Millard noted that for many students it can be difficult to justify spending three hours in traffic for an hour and a half of class. “We’re supposed to be the University of the North Shore, and it’s far faster for folks in East Vancouver to get to Capilano than it is for folks in West Vancouver,” he said. “That shouldn’t be the reality.”
From a personal standpoint, Millard stressed the inefficiency of the current transit system. “I’ve lived in West Van my whole life and spent the last three years taking transit from past Dundarave into CapU, and on heavy traffic days, travelling in traffic both ways, it can be three hours of transit,” he said. “A B-Line would cut that time in half.”
“It’s much longer than it needs to be,” said Rempel to a CBC reporter after she crossed the finish line. “Today there was very little traffic and it was still the slowest option.”
Berson told reporters that, as things currently stand, he can see why students who have the option choose to drive, and Millard joked that he only had to deal with one angry Porsche on his bike route.