‘Incredibly foolish’: Surrey mayor slams potential slowdown on light rail, subway

A rendering of future plans for a light rail transit (LRT) system in Surrey. City of Surrey

Surrey’s mayor is lashing out at what she says is talk of delaying a pair of Metro Vancouver transit megaprojects.

The region is waiting on final funding decisions for three key projects, the Broadway subway, Surrey light rail transit (LRT) and a replacement for the Pattullo Bridge.

But Linda Hepner says Burnaby Mayor and new TransLink Board Chair Derek Corrigan is now trying to slam the brakes on the transit projects and prioritize the bridge replacement.

READ MORE: Broadway subway, Surrey LRT will be pricier than planned. But how much?

With more than $2 billion in federal money on the table, Hepner said putting the transit lines on hold risks their viability.

“It would be an incredibly foolish mistake, and I don’t think there is anyone that would buy into that,” she said.

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READ MORE: ‘Vancouver is falling behind’ says Mayor Gregor Robertson on 10-year transit vision

Hepner said she’s particularly concerned that if the money hasn’t been touched by the time the next federal budget is tabled, the region risks losing access to it.

She added that the longer TransLink takes to build the new transit projects, the more expensive they will be.

TransLink’s CEO has already admitted that the final cost of the subway and LRT will exceed the $1.98 billion and $2.14 billion they were pegged at in 2014.

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Click to play video: 'Big funding announcement for Metro Vancouver transit projects' Big funding announcement for Metro Vancouver transit projects
Big funding announcement for Metro Vancouver transit projects – Mar 31, 2017

Hepner went on to say that Corrigan alone doesn’t have the authority as board chair to press pause on the initiatives.

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“He has to do it through the Mayors’ Council. If he really believes there needs to be a slowdown, he would have to test that by way of a resolution.”

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Corrigan and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson did not reply to a request for comment.

The three megaprojects are a part of phase-two of the Mayors’ Council’s 10-year vision for transit and transportation.

The federal and provincial governments have each agreed to cover 40 per cent of the costs, leaving Metro Vancouver on the hook for the remaining funding.

The region has yet to arrive at a decision on where that money will come from, but is looking at mobility pricing as one potential avenue.

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