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Surrey mayor, councillors under fire over trip to Phoenix to learn about LRT

Surrey City Councillor Tom Gill says Surrey has made the right choice choosing LRT after visiting Phoenix last week. City of Surrey

Surrey’s mayor, TransLink’s CEO and five municipal councillors are facing new criticism over a trip to Phoenix, Arizona last week.

The trip was aimed at helping the Surrey councillors get a better understanding of what a light rail transit (LRT) system would look like in their hometown by experiencing it in Phoenix.

The criticism comes in the wake of controversy over a trip to France Mayor Linda Hepner took in March to attend a real estate conference.

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Click to play video: 'Surrey mayor’s trip expenses under scrutiny' Surrey mayor’s trip expenses under scrutiny
Surrey mayor’s trip expenses under scrutiny – Mar 27, 2018

Doug Elford with the Surrey Community Alliance thinks the timing of this trip is questionable.

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“There seems to be a lot of politicians regionally taking advantage of the perks of the job,” he said.

But Surrey Councillor Tom Gill said the trip was worthwhile, and gave officials insight into the actual workings of light rail.

“The purpose was to see and demonstrate and understand how LRT works within a city,” he said.

Gill said that before the trip he was hesitant about the new form of transportation, but is now confident that Surrey has made the right choice.

READ MORE: Where’s Surrey LRT? Construction industry asks after B.C. budget release

“Well there is no question, I think the LRT in Pheonix clearly demonstrated that this amenity, this infrastructure, really does bring transformation to a city,”Gill said.

Elford said that Gill was recently in Australia with some members of the Metro Vancouver board looking at the country’s transit system.

“Really the timing of it all is not that great, the optics are not good at all,” he said.

READ MORE: The final cost of the Surrey LRT project is still not known

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Politicians from Langley also participated in the trip to Phoenix. The cost of the trip is not known at this time.

The 27-kilometre LRT system will be built in two phases.

Phase one will stretch from Newton to Guildford, and will connect to the existing Expo Line SkyTrain stations.

Phase two will take commuters from Surrey to Langley while connecting to King George Station.

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