(Photo: Amy Reid)

Transportation

Trudeau ‘officially launches’ SNG light rail transit line in Surrey

PM says feds and province investing $3B in Surrey’s LRT project and Vancouver’s Broadway project

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “officially launched” two major transit projects today in Surrey, including the Surrey-Newton-Guildford light rail transit project.

Trudeau said the federal government and the province combined are investing $3 billion in both Surrey’s LRT project and Vancouver’s Broadway subway project.

The feds will contribute $1.37 billion to the two projects, the province will kick in $1.82 billion and Translink, the City of Vancouver and the City of Surrey will contribute $1.23 billion.

Asked by a reporter what the “announcement” was, given these aren’t new dollars being committed, Trudeau and Premier John Horgan both said today shows the money is “locked down.”

“The cheques are in the mail,” said Horgan.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner also spoke at the press conference in Surrey’s City Centre was, saying the announcement was a “major win” for the region.

“Mic drop,” Hepner said at the end of her remarks. “It’s a great day in Surrey.”

She said today was about a “bilateral agreement being finalized.”

Hepner, Trudeau and Horgan all agreed that this plan, which had been 10 years in the making, wasn’t supported by previous governments and that infrastructure simply wasn’t keeping up in Surrey and Vancouver.

“It was going nowhere,” she said of the plan.

Hepner thanked Horgan and Trudeau for “being the delivery agents” of the funding.

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said the request for qualifications for Surrey’s 10.5-kilometre Surrey-Newton-Guildford line was issued today.

He estimated shovels would be in the ground by 2020 and that the first line would be completed by 2024.


Some political candidates for the Oct. 20 civic election, such as former mayor Doug McCallum, have said that if elected they will transfer the provincial and federal dollars to SkyTrain instead of LRT.

But as far as Desmond’s concerned, the “train has left the station” on that and he said he doesn’t think incoming politicians will be able to change the technology on Surrey’s SNG line this late in the game.

“I think it’s pretty locked in,” said Desmond. “This is what the Mayors’ Council has signed off on, the federal and provincial government are now ready, willing and able and fully committed.”

Hepner —who pledged Surrey residents would be riding light rail by 2018 during the 2014 election — agreed.

“No he can’t. All of this funding goes to the SNG line. So he can probably talk about what happens down Fraser Highway…. but is he going to change today? No he isn’t, no he can’t, no he won’t.”

But South Asian media in Surrey reported that Trudeau said while the funding was for LRT, if the next Surrey council decided to scrap it in favour of SkyTrain thenhe would be open to discussion, and the funding would not go back.

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Later in the day, Trudeau is scheduled to speak to media at the Tong Louie YMCA ahead of a “roundtable discussion on gangs and gun control” with Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan and Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair.

Tuesday evening, Trudeau will be at a Surrey banquet hall for a Liberal Party dinner.

The “Evening With the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau” will be held at the Crystal at York hall at 80th and 128th Street.

“This event is an exciting opportunity to hear from Justin Trudeau and to show your support as we prepare to elect even more Liberal MPs from British Columbia in 2019,” Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal says in an emailed event invitation.

A link to a page on the website liberal.ca lists “regular” tickets priced at $1,000, “Laurier Club” seats at $1,500, “Victory Fund Donors” at $750, “Youth (35 and under) ” at $750, and “2018 Laurier Club Donors” at $95.

“Political contributions are eligible for tax credits of up to $650,” the website notes.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

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