Metro Vancouver’s mayors will have to decide Thursday on whether to move ahead with Surrey’s desired SkyTrain. (Black Press Media files)

Metro Vancouver mayors face tough decision on SkyTrain versus light rail

Surrey’s mayor is pushing for SkyTrain, saying he can keep costs low

Metro Vancouver’s mayors are set gather in New Westminster on Thursday for the first time since municipal election, and since Surrey’s new council cancelled the city’s light-rail project – a major flank of the group’s long-term transportation plan.

The meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation will see 23 municipal leaders – 17 of them new since the Oct. 20 vote – decide if light rail in Surrey and Langley is dead on arrival.

Last week, Surrey city council, led by newly-elected Mayor Doug McCallum, voted against 26 kilometres of light rail in favour of SkyTrain at its inaugural meeting.

READ MORE: Surrey council unanimously passes motion to ‘cancel ’ LRT

The move could see the $7.3-million second phase of the mayors’ 10-year vision grind to a halt as the region discusses what will happen next.

Funding approval was secured for phase two earlier this year. The plan had been to build two lines of light rail, one connecting Newton to Surrey Centre to Guildford by 2024, and the other connecting Surrey to Langley along Fraser Highway sometime in the next decade.

READ MORE: TransLink CEO weighs in on Surrey’s move from LRT to SkyTrain

TransLink had estimated a cost of $1.65 billion for the first line and $1.9 billion for the second, although predesign work on the Fraser Highway line has yet to truly start.

But McCallum has said his plan to extend SkyTrain won’t cost much more, despite TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond telling reporters SkyTrain was still estimated to cost $2.9 billion.

He did say he was confident both senior governments would switch from light rail to SkyTrain.

“From what I’ve heard… they want to make sure that public transit infrastructure is delivered in Surrey. That signals to me that there will be flexibility,” Desmond said after a Greater Vancouver Board of Trade meeting last week.

READ MORE: New federal deal unlocks $2.2B in TransLink cash

McCallum hopes to save money by building much of the Fraser Highway route on the ground, although Desmond warned that could cause issues on the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Metro Vancouver municipalities remain split on the issue, with a Langley councillor concerned that a Fraser Highway SkyTrain won’t make it far past Fleetwood, while New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote wants Surrey to pay back the $50-70 million already spent on the Newton-Surrey Centre-Guildford line.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has spoken out in favour of SkyTrain in Surrey, as long as it doesn’t hurt his plans to build SkyTrain out to UBC.

Mayors are expected to decide how to proceed at Thursday’s meeting.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

COLUMN: Policing consultations should have happened months ago

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is under plenty of pressure from residents, and… Continue reading

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP say boy, 11, missing for two days found safe

Dominic Mattie was last seen at 5 p.m. in the 13500-block of Gateway Drive in Surrey

South Surrey & White Chamber golf tournie in memory of Cliff Annable

Part proceeds to benefit White Rock pier reconstruction fund

Surrey Mountie won’t face charges for scooter scuffle

The Surrey-based IIO has decided not to forward the case to Crown counsel for review

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Most Read

l -->