Metro Vancouver board chair and Councillor Sav Dhaliwal, left, and New Westminster Mayor and chair of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council during a Surrey Board of Trade event on Wednesday, Feb. 20. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Transportation

New West mayor says Surrey won’t be left out in transit 10-year plan

Jonathan Cote one of two speakers at luncheon focusing on transportation, land use planning

New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté said Newton and Guildford will not be forgotten in the mayors’ council 10-year plan, during a Surrey Board of Trade event on Wednesday (Feb. 20).

Coté, along with Metro Vancouver board chair and Councillor Sav Dhaliwal, were the two speakers at the SBoT event at the Civic Hotel which focused on transportation and land use planning.

Coté, who is also chair of TransLink’s mayor’s council, said the reality of last fall’s election is that Surrey “did voice concerns for changes,” and the mayors’ council “can’t just dismiss the level of conversation from that election.”

“The reality is, we’ve got $1.6 billion of secured funding to invest in rapid transit. That money has been allocated to the City of Surrey and the south of the Fraser with very good reason.”

But despite the change in direction, Coté said Newton and Guildford will not be forgotten.

Philip Aguirre, Newton BIA executive director, asked Coté what is the probability of Guildford and Newton being a priority going forward in the third phase of the 10-year plan.

RELATED: What might have been in Newton: BIA calls for ‘refreshed plans’ after LRT nixed, Dec. 5, 2018

Coté, who is a former Newton resident, said one advantage Newton and Guildford have is already being in the 10-year plan.

“I think our focus still is delivering on the priorities that have been set out in the mayor’s 10-year plan and with that one exception with the kind of switch (between SkyTrain and LRT), we’re holding true to that and the investments are consistent with that plan. I think we are not going to forget, in terms of where Newton and Guildford fell into that,” Coté said

“I think we do need to recognize we’ve got other really important neighbourhoods in our community; Newton and Guildford are areas that are growing, that are developing to become more transit-oriented.”

He said plans for Newton and Guildford will be a “big part” of discussions going forward into the third and final phase of the plan. For the short-term, he said, the plan is to re-allocate some funding for the B-line.

“At the very least, we need to get some investments on the ground, right away to an area, to even at the very least, address some of the crowding and service issues that exist.”

While the decision to switch to SkyTrain from LRT was a “difficult decision to make,” Coté said, the idea for a transit project along Fraser Highway “wasn’t pulled out of thin air.”

“For many years, the Fraser Highway corridor has been studied and identified as having a significant transit potential and a way to help shape roads south of the Fraser River,” said Coté, adding that it was actually contemplated in the mayors’ 10-year plan.

RELATED: Metro Vancouver mayors cancel Surrey LRT in favour of SkyTrain, Nov. 15, 2018

RELATED: Metro Vancouver mayors vote to ‘develop’ $1.65B in Fraser Highway SkyTrain plans, Dec. 13, 2018

In December, the same month the mayors’ council voted to “develop” the Fraser Highway SkyTrain plan, Coté said he took a ride on the 502 bus between Surrey Central Station and Langley City Centre.

“The first impression that came to me is that it is an absolutely packed bus going along that corridor, and a bus that I know already runs at a high frequency there,” said Coté, adding that he saw “significant potential” for land use along the route.

READ ALSO: Surrey council unanimously passes motion to ‘cancel’ LRT, Nov. 5, 2018



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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