ZYTARUK: Surrey’s dynastic approach to light rail

It looks to be more of the way of the future in Surrey than you might have thought

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So let it be written…

Is Surrey’s current civic government really on board with what Surrey residents want when it comes to light rail transit versus more SkyTrain?

Cue the laugh tracks. Our online poll at this time of writing, asking the question “Light rail or SkyTrain for Surrey?” has 13.67 per cent in favour of light rail and 86.33 per cent for SkyTrain.

Despite this, with less than three months of breathing room until a new council takes the helm, this government-in-twilight is entertaining a somewhat dynastic view favouring a spiderweb network of LRT lines — about 140 to 150 kilometres’ worth — throughout the city.

The future of rapid transit in this city is certainly being debated in this civic election campaign, with voters going to the polls in less than three months. But even before votes are cast, the nine-member Surrey First council is fractured heading toward the Oct. 20 election.

Let’s take stock.

Mayor Linda Hepner and councillors Mary Martin and Judy Villeneuve are not seeking re-election.

Councillors Barbara Steele and Bruce Hayne have parted ways with Surrey First in their bid to get re-elected. Of current council members, that leaves the slate’s mayoralty candidate Tom Gill and councillors Mike Starchuk, Vera LeFranc and Dave Woods representing Surrey First.

So, four of nine.

READ ALSO: City of Surrey envisions 150 kilometres of light rail transit

READ ALSO ZYTARUK: Feds are living in a fiscal fairyland

READ ALSO ZYTARUK: File it under ‘Who cares?’

Clearly, many residents don’t want light rail and prefer SkyTrain. Yet, as the sun begins to set on this current government, city staff last Monday night unleashed on council an epic vision of LRT far beyond the scope of its current plan to run 27 kilometres of track along King George Boulevard, Fraser Highway and 104th Avenue.

Governments typically try to extend their legacy as their expiry date draws nigh. It’s human nature. It’s a struggle, relinquishing power. Also, the wheels of government can’t stop grinding just because an election is on the horizon. Still, this new vision, looking decades into the future, has got to be raising eyebrows this late into this particular council’s game. Anyway, the council voted unanimously to accept the report as information, for what that’s worth.

It has Surrey’s LRT of the future heading down into South Surrey along the George, and along 24th Avenue, 64th Avenue, 96th Avenue, Scott Road and 192nd Street.

Outgoing Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner noted that “there’s lots of conversation over the next couple of years before those final decisions on transportation are made.”

She’s right. Perhaps her part of that continuing conversation “over the next couple of years” will be voiced in a letter to the editor or a comment at the tail end of a story published online, well after she’s retired from politics and has joined the ranks of the little guy. I wonder if she’ll be happy with the result.

For the rest of us, I guess Surreyites will weigh in on Oct. 20.

That is, those who bother to vote.

So let it be done.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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