SURREY — Surrey residents will have to “stay tuned” to find out what slice the city will get from a $460 million federal funding pie allotted for public transit plans in British Columbia.
Jonathan Wilkinson, Liberal MP for North Vancouver and parliamentary secretary for environment and climate change was in Surrey Thursday, flanked by local Liberal MPs, to announce that the federal government has earmarked “well over” $10 billion over next the three years “to projects Canadians need the most.”
The “historic investments,” he said, are in public transit, social infrastructure and water-related projects.
“Public transit is a very important focus of our phase one investments.”
All told, $120 billion will be invested in infrastructure over the next 10 years with $3.4 billion over the next three years allocated to a new public transit infrastructure fund “to improve public transit systems across Canada.”
B.C. is set to receive $460 million for public transit projects, with the federal government funding up to 50 per cent of project costs and the provincial, municipal and territorial governments providing the difference.
Wilkinson provided no details as to what slice of that funding pie Surrey will receive.
Specific projects, he said, will be “informed by the regional authorities” like Metro Vancouver, TransLink and civic-level governments. “Those are presently under discussion and there will be announcements in the coming months relating to the specific projects.”
Alluding back to the election campaign platform, he noted light rail for Surrey was identified as a priority.
Ken Hardie, Liberal MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells, said he doesn’t yet know how much funding Surrey will receive.
“I can’t say,” he said. “As federal government our job is to really be the enabler of things to happen, but the specific things that do happen, right down to the choice of technology, etcetera, we do leave up to the regional agencies like TransLink, Metro Vancouver and the provincial government because they know the local issues the best.”‘
Hardie sits on the federal government’s standing committee for transportation and infrastructure.
“We do have to allow the local agencies to make those decisions,” he said. “There’s undoubtedly a framework where we want to see money well spent. We don’t think that’s going to ever be a problem here in Metro Vancouver because there’s a long history of doing not just the kind of transit planning, but the kind of growth management planning that make transit work better.
“As the federal government,” Hardie said, “we come in here with a high degree of confidence that the money we invest here will pay dividends.”