SkyTrain’s end of the line, for now, in Whalley. (File photo)

SkyTrain’s end of the line, for now, in Whalley. (File photo)

Provincial budget watchers lament no mention of Surrey SkyTrain expansion

But $1.66 billion is earmarked for a second hospital for Surrey, in Cloverdale

The provincial budget has $1.66 billion earmarked for a second hospital for Surrey, to be built in Cloverdale by 2028 and featuring a cancer centre.

But what about SkyTrain?

That’s what Surrey Connect is asking as reaction rolls in on B.C.’s 2021 provincial budget, which was brought down on Tuesday.

The civic slate, comprised of councillors Jack Hundial, Brenda Locke, and candidate Ramona Kaptyn, says two issues important to Surrey residents were “neglected” in the budget – the expansion of SkyTrain from Surrey into Langley, and Surrey’s policing transition.

Surrey Connect issued a press release Wednesday noting that funding for construction of the SkyTrain project remains subject to Treasury Board approval and that the budget “made no mention” of Surrey’s plan to replace the Surrey RCMP with its own police force.

But Dave Crebo, communications director for the Ministry of Transportation an Infrastructure, says there’s $376 million allocated for the SkyTrain expansion project though “it’s not an obvious line item.”

On page 53 of the budget there’s a line item called transit infrastructure, Crebo noted, with $749 million there over the three-year life of the plan. Of that, he said, $376 million “is for Surrey-Langley SkyTrain.”

“Until the actual business case, the Treasury Board rubber-stamps the approved budget of X billions of dollars, until that happens, the money’s there, they just put it in the pot if you will, and once that’s rubber-stamped and approved then it’ll go into the table for the next budget,” he said. “This $376 million is the first little bit, just for starting planning work and getting that whole business process going.”

“Clearly there’s a tonne of work to go before they’re ready to have a final budget,” Crebo said. “That’s what the business case is all about. There is money in the budget for Surrey-Langley SkyTrain, without question, but it’s not highlighted as a separate line item for the project.”

READ ALSO: B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

READ ALSO: Surrey Police Service to begin public consultation late June, early July

The Surrey Board of Trade also weighed in.

Anita Huberman, CEO of the board, said Wednesday that while it’s “pleased that specific mention was made to the commitment of building a new Surrey hospital,” in Cloverdale, still there was “was no specific mention of a financial commitment though for SkyTrain from Surrey to Langley in the service plan for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.”

As for the policing transition, Huberman noted this latest provincial budget does not address “any specific cost impacts” related to it.

“The Surrey Board of Trade still maintains that in the end there will be cost impacts as a result of this transition that will affect taxpayers,” Huberman added.

Meantime, page 56 of the provincial government’s Three Year Fiscal Plan document indicates $1.66 billion has been earmarked for a new Surrey Hospital and Cancer Centre in Cloverdale, that’s “expected to be complete in 2028.”

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