Rendering of a planned Surrey light rail train. (Photo: surrey.ca)

Surrey council unanimously passes motion to ‘cancel ’ LRT

TransLink ‘pausing’ work on the project as a result of the resolution

As promised, Mayor Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition have passed a motion to “cancel” the planned light rail system in the city, minutes after being sworn in Monday night.

The motion directs city staff to “stop all work” on the LRT project and immediately start working with TransLink on a SkyTrain extension down Fraser Highway to Langley.

It also requests that the Mayors’ Council and TransLink follow suit and “immediately initiate a new SkyTrain extension,” as well as transfer the approved funding to the project “as soon as possible.”

McCallum said he intends to have the Surrey SkyTrain extension built “around the clock.”

Watch: VIDEO: ‘A new era for the City of Surrey’ as McCallum and council sworn in

See also: Surrey’s top cop ‘disappointed’ after council votes to pull out of RCMP contract

McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition slate, which holds eight of nine seats on Surrey council, tabled and passed the motion at a Nov. 5 meeting immediately following the swearing-in ceremony at city hall.

Linda Annis, the lone Surrey First councillor elected on Oct. 20, also voted in favour, making it unanimous.

“I’m supporting them on the LRT, SkyTrain issue, I’m looking for them to stay on budget and to build infrastructure in place on the Newton corridor so we’ve got proper transit, can build a proper, safe community and put some density in there,” said Annis.

Nixing the LRT plan was a promise of McCallum and his team along the campaign trail ahead of their election.

“I believe that this is an historic day for all of us, and we will only truly appreciate its significant in hindsight,” said Councillor Allison Patton before the vote.

To the electorate, Councillor Steven Pettigrew said “you told us you wanted SkyTrain so we’re going to do it.”

Next, McCallum will have to get his vision passed at the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation. The first meeting of the region’s newly elected mayors is set for Nov. 15 in New Westminster.

McCallum told reporters that he will continue to speak with mayors around the region to drum up support.

TransLink issued a statement Monday evening, following Surrey council’s decision.

In light of the resolution, TransLink is “pausing work on the Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT Project and suspending the RFQ process while we await direction from the Mayors’ Council and the TransLink Board.”

TransLink says it’s “committed to improving rapid transit in Surrey and Langley and we look forward to working with the Mayors’ Council, the City of Surrey, and the City and Township of Langley to advance the best options for the people south of the Fraser and the entire region as quickly as possible.”

In all, the fully funded and approved Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT line was estimated to cost $1.65 billion.

After the motion passed, SkyTrain for Surrey founder Daryl Dela Cruz praised the new council’s move.

“We think it’s an important day for people in Surrey and Langley,” he said. “It’s an important victory. Its a message that we want to build a transit system that will significantly reduce travel time, cut commute time and connect people with the rest of the region.”

See also: Back in the Saddle: What Surrey can expect from Doug McCallum 2.0

See also: Surrey’s mayor-elect McCallum has big promises to keep

McCallum sat down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Vancouver on Nov. 1, to discuss his plans to halt LRT, among other things.

The Safe Surrey team tweeted that it was a “great meeting” and that Trudeau is “supportive of our mandate in which the citizens of Surrey elected us on to bring in a local Surrey police force and to build SkyTrain instead of LRT.”

In all, the fully funded and approved Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT line was estimated to cost $1.65 billion. Some have expressed doubt about whether Surrey mayor-elect Doug McCallum can get his envisioned SkyTrain extension built with the money already on the table.

See also: McCallum says Trudeau ‘supportive’ of Surrey SkyTrain plans, local police force

See also: Fleetwood BIA comes out swinging against SkyTrain, releases renderings

TransLink says that a 16.5 kilometre SkyTrain line along Fraser Highway to Langley would cost about $2.9 billion, according to a preliminary cost estimates report completed in 2017, but McCallum insists the line can be done with the money that’s been committed, partly because he intends for part of the system to be built “at grade,” or at ground level, which would “significantly” reduce the price tag.

And, because of the total cost of the Evergreen Line.

“The Evergreen Line came in a year-and-a-half ago at $1.4 billion,” said McCallum. “So we think that even if you add inflation, and maybe the cost of some of the materials to be a little bit more, that we can still build it along Fraser Highway at $1.65 billion.”

According to McCallum, TransLink’s estimates “as far as rapid transit are not very accurate.”

See also: Lower Mainland mayor suggests Surrey pay back $50M already spent on LRT

Meantime, New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote has suggested Surrey should pay back the $50 million TransLink says it has spent on planning light rail in the city, but McCallum said that won’t be happening.

“We have no intention of paying that,” McCallum told the Now-Leader. “It’s TransLink’s problem, and it’s their mistake because they didn’t do any public consulting.”

That $50 million, according to TransLink spokeswoman Jill Drews, has been spent on technical studies, preliminary design, planning, consultation and early works.

McCallum questioned the figure.

“I’ve asked TransLink where that figure comes from, line by line. Where did they get to that? At this point they’ve refused to give it to me. I don’t believe it,” said the incoming mayor, adding that things like staff time can’t be part of the equation.

McCallum said switching technologies, like he intends to do for Surrey, isn’t unprecedented.

“When I was (TransLink) chairman doing other lines, TransLink spent money studying light rail down the Arbutus corridor and the people in Vancouver didn’t want that. They wanted it switched to SkyTrain technology down Cambie Street. They never requested Vancouver pay back the fees that were spent,” he noted.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Amy on Twitter

Just Posted

GW Graham whallops Ballenas Whalers in junior football playoff

Logan Buchwitz scored four touchdowns for the Grizzlies in a one-sided 40-0 win.

B.C. teen to take on the world after winning Canadian junior dog-handling national championship

Chilliwack’s Kayla Penney is heading to Crufts to compete for her first international title

GW Graham grad Ethan Mastin wins Atlantic University Sport football title

Mastin helped his St. Francis Xavier X-Men top St. Mary’s U in last weekend’s AUS championship game.

Sardis Falcon Nick Butler named to Nissan Titan All-Canadian Team

The receiver is one of 70 high schoolers who will travel to Edmonton during the CFL’s Grey Cup week.

Country talent Petunia returns to Bozzini’s in Chilliwack Saturday

Petunia, performing Nov. 17, is referred to as ‘The Savior of Country Music’

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Most Read