Metro Vancouver mayors suspend light rail to Surrey, ask for more information on costs

Click to play video: 'Metro Vancouver mayors make big decisions at first meeting' Metro Vancouver mayors make big decisions at first meeting
WATCH: Metro Vancouver mayors make big decisions at first meeting – Nov 15, 2018

Metro Vancouver mayors have voted to formally suspend all work on Surrey’s light rail transit (LRT) project but have not officially cancelled the project in favour of SkyTrain. Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum campaigned on a commitment to extend the existing SkyTrain line through Surrey along the Fraser Highway and into Langley.

“We are certainly pleased in the City of Surrey. Our goal was to support the 10-year plan but change the technology from light rail to SkyTrain,” McCallum said.

READ MORE: The provincial government rules out any new money for SkyTrain in Surrey

TransLink has pegged the cost for LRT through the city at $1.65 billion. That money has already been secured, with $483.8 million from the federal government, $1.12 billion in regional funds and a little extra from a previous commitment.

There were concerns from the Metro Vancouver mayors about the money that has already been spent on LRT and who is going to be on the hook to cover those costs.

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The mayors’ council asked TransLink staff on Thursday to come back with an analysis of next steps from SkyTrain and a figure for how much has been spent.

READ MORE: SkyTrain tops agenda at first meeting of new-look Mayors’ Council

“We have to have a full analysis of what that change will entail. The fact is some $50 million or so has been spent in [pursuit] of the current plan,” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said. “We have to consider the possibility of some kind of consequence of making a change. We have done everything the right way.”

There is also a disagreement between mayors about whether Thursday’s vote is a cancellation of the LRT project or just a suspension.

“Surrey/Newton/Guildford has only been suspended. It has not been cancelled as a project,” Brodie said.

“We have received insurances that we will receive more information at the Dec. 13 meeting that will allow us to move forward.”

But McCallum disagrees. He told reporters that his understanding is the vote from the mayors has ended any talk about LRT. But there are still questions about how the extension will be paid for or whether this politicking will lead to substantial delays for mass transit in the region.

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WATCH HERE: Surrey council votes to scrap LRT and the RCMP in inaugural meeting

Click to play video: 'Surrey council votes to scrap LRT and the RCMP in inaugural meeting' Surrey council votes to scrap LRT and the RCMP in inaugural meeting
Surrey council votes to scrap LRT and the RCMP in inaugural meeting – Nov 6, 2018

“I think the fact it is coming back in three weeks is certainly satisfying for the City of Surrey because we feel the whole process has to move quickly. The intent of the mayors’ council is for it to move quickly,” McCallum said. “I think the intent of the mayors’ council is that light rail is finished.”

Premier John Horgan was asked about the mayors’ next steps. He said that his government has always been committed to working with the mayors and putting in place the projects they want.

“If he (McCallum) can convince his colleagues at the mayors’ council to amend the plan, I am happy to talk them about it,” Horgan said. “But that will mean delays in the long term.”


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