Fraser Highway at 160th Street. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Public engagement kicks off for Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project

Four dates set for open houses; three in Surrey, one in Langley

The public can now have a say on the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project and the rapid transit planning for the 104th Avenue and King George Boulevard corridors.

TransLink launched its public engagement phase for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain (SLS) project on April 4, as well as a “refresh” of planning along the two corridors by way of online surveys at surreylangleyskytrain.ca and in-person meetings.

READ ALSO: Public engagement for Surrey-Langley SkyTrain to begin in April: report

READ ALSO: First look at Surrey SkyTrain renderings along Fraser Highway

The consultation period will run to April 26 and the results are expected to be presented to the region’s mayors in July.

SLS project manage Jeff Busby said the team has been working at an “accelerated pace” since the switch in technology in December, with TransLink “defining the project from the ground up.”

Station locations have yet to be solidified, he said.

“We’ve already started dialogue with business associations and stakeholders along the corridor,” he told reporters Thursday, when asked to comment on concerns from some businesses in the area, particularly the Fleetwood BIA.

It’s expected there will be information in July about where stops might be.

“We are really just starting this so we’re looking at all the options,” said Busby. “Station locations are driven by their ridership which means connections to buses and other modes of transportation, compatibility to land use and other plans and technical considerations. They’re typically at major intersections so that’s part of the work we’re doing.”

The costs associated with a 16-kilometre SkyTrain line to downtown Langley remain a big question mark, with 2017 projections expecting it would cost $2.9 billion.

That’s a good chunk of the $3.5 billion allocated to 27 kilometres of Surrey rapid transit in the TransLink Mayor’s Council’s 10-Year Vision, along not only Fraser Highway, but also 104th Avenue and King George Boulevard.

Part of TransLink’s public engagement is to determine what rapid transit options the public prefers for 104th Avenue and King George Boulevard, since the former plan to construct light rail along all three of those corridors has been halted by the region’s mayors following Surrey’s new city council voting to nix the project immediately after taking power last November.

The 2017 cost estimate for the Fraser Highway SkyTrain extension appears to not leave much money for those two other busy corridors.

Geoff Cross, vice-president of policy and planning at TransLink, said the team is analyzing a whole host of factors as the public consultation is underway.

After presenting results of the public consultation – and the analysis – to the mayors in July, TransLink is aiming for the project to receive the necessary approvals by early 2020.

If there is approval in 2020, and that’s dependent on senior governments, Cross said a SkyTrain line could be operational by 2025.

Asked what happens if public engagement reveals lack of support for SkyTrain, Cross said that will be presented to the mayors.

“They’d have to weigh that and make difficult decisions,” he told reporters. “Our job is to do the analysis.”

TransLink came under some criticism for a perceived lack of consultation on Surrey’s light rail project.

Asked to comment on that, and what is being done differently this time around, Cross pointed to a “gap” in the timeline that meant “we didn’t have the opportunity to re-engage the public.” in 2014.

Cross said TransLink’s mayor’s council had four months to put together a plan for the province at the time, and said the transit authority had to rely on consultation done prior to that, given the short window.

Now, he said the hope is the “fairly simple survey” will provide insight into what the public desires when it comes to the SkyTrain plan.

TransLink has planned four open houses:

  • April 11, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Langley City Hall (20399 Douglas Cres.)
  • April 15, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex (100-16555 Fraser Hwy.)
  • April 16, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Surrey City Hall (13454 104th Ave.)
  • April 17, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Newton Seniors’ Centre (13775 70th Ave.)
  • TransLink will also be at Surrey’s Party for the Planet (Saturday, April 13 at Surrey Civic Plaza), Surrey’s Vaisakhi Parade (Saturday, April 20) and at select transit hubs.

People can complete a survey, until April 26, online or in person at one of the four open houses.

The survey questions, according to a news release, will help TransLink learn more about: the level of familiarity with rapid transit priorities found in the 10-year vision; the level of support for the proposed SLS project; and what the public values when it comes to transit investment.

For more information, visit surreylangleyskytrain.ca.

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

READ ALSO: Surrey council to consider holding development along new SkyTrain

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