Rendering of a planned Surrey light rail train. (Photo: surrey.ca)

Rendering of a planned Surrey light rail train. (Photo: surrey.ca)

Mayors’ Council reaffirms commitment to transportation plan, including Surrey LRT

Metro Vancouver mayors call on province to confirm its 40 per cent funding share ‘as soon as possible’

The Mayors’ Council has reaffirmed its commitment to its 10-year transportation plan, after doubt following comments from incoming chair Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan.

At a meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation on Thursday, the committee voted to reaffirm its intention to forge ahead with its full vision for the region, which includes 27 kilometres of light rail transit in Surrey and a replacement of the Pattullo Bridge.

“What’s particularly significant about this is it’s the very first time that unanimously the vision was supported,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner. “The current chair (Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan) has not been supportive of the vision, so to see that happen today is a strong message.”

The approved motion, brought forward by Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, resolved that the council “calls on the Province of B.C. to confirm as soon as possible its partnership in delivering the Phase Two Plan as scheduled, including provincial contribution of a 40 per cent share of capital costs of all projects in the vision.”

See also: Surrey mayor urges province to ‘hurry up’ lest LRT price tag rises

See also: Surrey LRT could be running by 2024

Since early 2017, the council has been working to develop and fund phase two, which will include an eight per cent increase in bus and HandyDART service, a 30 per cent increase rapid transit service and will initiate construction of SkyTrain upgrades, the Broadway Subway, Surrey LRT and a new Pattullo Bridge.

The motion calls for implementation of phase two in early 2018 “as planned.”

The federal government has already committed to fund 40 per cent of the project, and if the province affirms it will pay for 40 per cent, that will leave the mayors with a 20 per cent gap to fill.

Hepner said phase two of the plan won’t be funded through avenues being considered by the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission, which has included “congestion tax” or distance-based charges.

“We’re looking at other avenues of funding for (phase two),” she told the Now-Leader. “We’re putting together a basket that we will be discussing with the province.”

The hope is to “close that gap with some finality within the next month or so,” Hepner added.

See also: Congestion points or distance: How Metro Vancouver could pay for its roads

See also: Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan voted in as new Mayors’ Council chair

See also: SkyTrain for Surrey wants LRT pulled from Mayors’ Council plan

Earlier this month, Mayor Linda Hepner said new Mayors’ Council chair Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan was “talking through his hat” after he suggested it may not be possible to build Surrey’s light rail line and Broadway’s subway alongside a Pattullo Bridge replacement.

“That money is on the table for a limited period of time, and that’s $2 billion,” she told the Now-Leader in early January. “We can’t slow it down and expect those other agencies to have committed funding at such a significant level when we’re good and ready.”

While the endorsed Mayor’s Council’s transportation plan includes a replacement of the aging Pattullo, Surrey’s light rail line and a subway in Vancouver, incoming chair Corrigan has suggested the three may not be able to be constructed at the same time.

Hepner rejected any notion that any of the projects could wait.

“I don’t think there’s anyone, big or small, in this region that doesn’t understand that transportation is a significant issue both in terms of movement of people and movement of goods,” she said at the time. “We in Surrey have endorsed that regional growth strategy where we’re accepting significant growth, only on the basis – and we made that very clear – only on the basis of improved transportation systems and infrastructure.”

Click here to read more about Surrey’s planned LRT line.

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