September 7, 2018 7:30 am

Surrey mayoral candidate says majority of residents oppose LRT

A call for bids has gone out for Surrey's light rapid transit line. Aaron McArthur looks at the plans, and when they hope to get shovels in the ground.

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A candidate in Surrey’s mayoral race is touting a party-commissioned poll in his quest to drop light rail transit (LRT) for the city.

Doug McCallum, who is running under the banner of the Safe Surrey Coalition, says the poll, conducted a the end of July, shows overwhelming support for more SkyTrain south of the Fraser, rather than streetcar-style LRT.

McCallum said of 507 people surveyed, 85 per cent said “scrap LRT.”

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“Everywhere I go, everywhere, I haven’t even run into anybody who wants light rail, not even one person in all the meetings I’ve been,” he said.

McCallum says if elected, he’ll cancel LRT at the first council meeting and put a motion on the table to begin planning for SkyTrain using the money already committed by both the provincial and federal governments.

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“Cities have a big role in whatever is decided because naturally they’ve got to use our roads and so forth, so TransLink can’t make that decision,” he said.

McCallum argues that LRT is slower than SkyTrain, will worsen traffic congestion and does nothing to help the rapidly growing communities of Clayton Heights and Cloverdale.

WATCH: Surrey LRT construction to begin in 2020

However Tom Gill, who is running for mayor with Surrey First, said expanding SkyTrain is not a good fit for the city.

“[The] technology is too expensive and it’s not going to work,” he said.

“What we are trying to envision in Surrey is 150 kilometres of rapid transit in the future, we are looking for north and south, east and west connections.”

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Gill points to cities around the world that use LRT, such as nearby Portland, arguing that they have “come alive” due to the street-level transportation.

“SkyTrain is a perfect technology to take residents downtown in terms of Vancouver and getting people across the region,” he said.

“But certainly when you are looking at LRT and trying to create a community we are trying to get our residents to live, work and play in Surrey.”

Gill said that the city could, however, be doing a better job of explaining the value of LRT to Surrey residents.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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