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Surrey LRT on faster track as province matches $2.2B federal transit pledge

Mayor Linda Hepner says that talking dollar commitments instead of percentages 'allows us to move projects forward immediately'

SURREY — The provincial Liberal government has committed to matching the federal government's $2.2 billion to transit projects in the region, including Surrey's Light Rail Transit line and the Broadway extension in Vancouver.

Peter Fassbender, Minister Responsible for TransLink, made the announcement Friday morning at Surrey City Hall.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner called the announcement, "great news."

"They are matching dollar for dollar the federal commitment, and I can tell you that that is really great news from my perspective," Hepner said.

The provincial NDP has promised that if elected, it too will pay 40 per cent of the projects' costs.

Hepner noted that now having dollar commitments instead of percentages will "help get projects off the ground a whole lot quicker and go into procurement" and "allows us to move projects forward immediately."



Hepner said she hopes a bilateral agreement can be put in place with the federal and provincial governments by the end of this year.

"So whoever forms government, we will really be working hard to make sure that agreement is in place to then go to procurement," she added.

The final step is to get the regional share in place, said Hepner, which will require some legislative changes or allowances but added "it's a whole lot easier when you know you have both levels - federal and provincial - those funding dollar commitments."

The Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation has approved a $7.5 billion 10-year investment plan for Metro Vancouver, and included in that is Surrey's Light Rail Transit lines.

The first two lines - along 104th Avenue and King George Boulevard - are set to be built within the first seven years of the plan, and LRT along Fraser Highway to Langley in 12.

Surrey City Council recently endorsed the LRT vision statement for "connected, complete and livable communities," and rapid transit manager Paul Lee says shovels will be in the ground - in some form - in 2018.

"We're currently designing work that's part of the project. It's what we call enabling work. We want to do some of these things in advance," he explained. That work will be done thanks to funds received from federal and provincial governments last summer, and TransLink in November, he added. "We can tackle some of the tough spots, some of the environmental work (and utility relocation)."