Metro Vancouver mayors council considers Surrey SkyTrain proposal

Metro Vancouver mayors\ council considers Surrey SkyTrain proposal
New TransLink Mayors Council set to vote on cancelling Surrey LRT
(Aired Nov. 1, 2018) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is asked at a press conference Thursday if his government will kick in more funds after Surrey Mayor-Elect Doug McCallum announced he will scrap the LRT to build a SkyTrain.

Today is the inaugural meeting of the TransLink Mayors’ Council, following the civic elections a few weeks ago.

The Mayors’ Council will be asked to give TransLink the approval it needs to cancel Surrey light rail transit (LRT) and immediately start work on SkyTrain out to Langley along the Fraser Highway.

READ MORE: ‘We will be partners’: Trudeau says he won’t stand in the way of Surrey SkyTrain

LISTEN: The first meeting of the TransLink Mayors Council will be held this morning. This is the first meeting since the municipal elections delivered a huge shake-up of mayors in the region, about three-quarters of the mayors are new. 

“The public wants that; over 80-per cent of the public, when we’ve been talking to them, doesn’t want light rail, they want SkyTrain. We’re going listen to the public and we’re going to get it done,” McCallum said.

Brenda Locke, who topped the polls for a seat on council, says during the election campaign it was hard to find anyone who wanted LRT.

READ MORE: TransLink delays a deadline for LRT in Surrey, in the wake of uncertainty over its future

“It is what the people wanted all along. We knocked on hundreds and thousands of doors all over the city and everybody said the same, they wanted SkyTrain. They did not want a second-rate LRT system,” Locke said.

Its unfortunate the first Mayors Council meeting is going to have to grapple with such a big issue, said Cote

Mayors Council to vote on proposal to permanently halt work on Surreys $1.65-billion light rail line

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – The future of rapid transit south of the Fraser is set to go to a vote today, with TransLink’s new Mayors’ Council expected to endorse Surrey’s move to kill the city’s light rail transit project in favour of expanding SkyTrain.

It is a tall order for the council, which is swearing in a number of new members who were freshly-elected in last month’s municipal vote.

At the beginning of Thursday’s meeting, New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote was named the new chair of the Mayors’ Council.

“I think it’s unfortunate the first Mayors’ Council meeting is going to have to grapple with such a big issue,” Cote said.

“But I think there is going to be an opportunity over the first part of the upcoming year for the new mayors to fully come up to speed with the TransLink file and all the issues we are dealing with. I have confidence that the new mayors are going to be well-positioned but there’s no doubt, for running out of the gate, it’s not an ideal situation.”

The Mayors’ Council is scheduled to vote on a proposal to permanently halt work on Surreys $1.65-billion light-rail line and request additional analysis before voting next month on moving ahead with planning for expanded SkyTrain south of the Fraser within the current funding framework.

“There is going to have to be proper planning and a business case associated with that. That work can definitely be done and the Mayors’ Council is going to need to spend some time very early on this term doing that work, but it’s not something that can be done on a whim,” Cote told NEWS 1130.

“We have $1.6 billion on the table. How can we move forward quickly to make sure we don’t lose that funding while ensuring we improve rapid transit in Metro Vancouver? No doubt the change in direction is going to delay that discussion because important work will need to happen, but I think a strong case can be made that the investment should remain south of the Fraser River.”

Cote says it is frustrating, as a returning mayor who has worked toward completing the council’s 10-year transportation plan, to make such a drastic change in course after LRT was approved and funded.

“I think that’s never a good practice for any government to make these decisions so late in the game. But there has to be recognition that this was a significant issue in the local election in Surrey and the new local government has a strong mandate to move forward with these changes.”

Cote says even if everything goes smoothly, he expects the switch to delay the expansion of rapid transit in the region by a minimum of one or two years.

TransLink has already spent $50 million on planning for light rail, and the city has spent $20 million in pre-construction work.

Newly elected Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has said he believes expanding SkyTrain can be done for the same cost as building the Surrey-Newton-Guildford light rail transit line.

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