Federal candidates spar over transit funding in Surrey

Conservative Party’s promise to provide up to $700 million for light rail transit in Surrey under attack by political rivals.

The Conservative Party has promised to provide up to $700 million for light rail transit in Surrey.

SURREY — The Conservative Party’s promise to provide up to $700 million for light rail transit in Surrey, if re-elected to government on Oct. 19, is under heavy attack by political rivals.

Former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, who is running for the Conservatives in South Surrey-White Rock, revealed Monday that a re-elected Conservative government will pay for one-third of the proposed Surrey LRT project, which features 28 kilometers of rail.

“Light rail transit will shape our city, spur economic growth and connect communities,” Watts said. “By reducing congestion, it will also contribute to regional economic growth and prosperity by allowing businesses to get their products to market faster and more easily.”

Garry Begg, the NDP’s candidate for Fleetwood-Port Kells, said the Conservatives’ “one-off” plan leaves the city “without stable, predictable funding for the ability to plan long-term.

“Whether it’s deploying 100 RCMP officers in Surrey or funding transit, the Conservatives continue to drag their feet,” Begg said. “Surrey deserves more than just one-off, piecemeal transit funding.”

Begg said the NDP will invest $5.2 billion for transit and infrastructure in the Lower Mainland.

Sukh Dhaliwal, former Liberal MP and the party’s candidate for Surrey-Newton, called the Conservatives’ promise “electoral politics at its worst.” He noted that two years have already passed since the City of Surrey submitted a funding request for the LRT project to Ottawa, with no response until this election campaign.

On Sept. 14 Dhaliwal tweeted out that “Trudeau pledges $2.1 Billion for Surrey Transit including Light Rail to Newton.”

The NDP, he added, is the only major federal party “not to offer a firm funding commitment” for Surrey’s LRT.

The $1.3 billion the NDP has promised for transit won’t arrive until 2019, he said, despite Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner’s election commitment to have the first LRT line built by 2019.

tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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