(Source: Canadian Press)

A long-awaited and controversial rail expansion that makes Vancouver the first Canadian city linked to its airport by rapid transit should serve as an example for the rest of the country, says an expert in urban development.

The $2-billion Canada Line SkyTrain expansion between Vancouver, suburban Richmond and Vancouver International Airport opened Monday when thousands of people lined up to take advantage of free rides along the 25-minute, 19-kilometre run.

The line took four years to build and drew the ire of merchants whose businesses were disrupted during its construction, eventually resulting in a lawsuit against the developer that awarded one shop owner $600,000.

But supporters and politicians, including B.C.’s premier, are heralding the line’s opening by predicting it will reduce commute times, ferry tourists throughout the region and boost business around the stations.

There’s no question the expansion will change the neighbourhoods along the line for the better, says the director of Simon Fraser University’s urban studies program.

Anthony Perl said he hopes it sets an example for the rest of the country.

Read the full article “Canada Line rapid transit line to Vancouver’s airport and city’s” in the Canadian Press (August 17, 2009).

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