Talk on rail relocation back on track

White Rock, Surrey leaders still committed to moving railway.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin said he is feeling “encouraged” after meeting with the provincial transportation minister last week to discuss relocating the railway, acknowledging, however, that there is a long road ahead before the project comes to fruition.

Baldwin discussed the relocation with Transportation Minister Todd Stone during a “very quick” meeting at the Union of B.C. Municipalities in Vancouver last week, and said the minister “seemed very receptive” to the idea.

“It was really just to provide him with some understanding of the magnitude of the work and to set up a subsequent meeting,” Baldwin told Peace Arch News Wednesday.

“What we’re waiting for now is for Surrey to consider the issue. I’m hoping and expecting that they will resolve to put in a joint application with us to the Canadian Transportation Authority.”

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner told PAN Thursday that she remains committed to relocating the rail line and agrees with Baldwin that the two cities “need to have a united front on the issue,” noting there are some “Surrey-specific issues” that need to be examined first.

“It’s a little less complicated for White Rock than it is for Surrey,” Hepner said.

A staff report analyzing the ramifications of relocating the rail line is expected to come before council in November, Hepner said.

Among concerns for the city, Hepner said, is economic impact, and as a result the city is “going slow and steady” in proceeding.

“It’s an enormous project and it has enormous costs attached to it,” Hepner said. “It would have to be some other level of government that would be paying for the relocation. It’s certainly not within a local government’s ability, no matter which local government.”

Baldwin said he is optimistic that help on the federal level may come after this month’s election.

“All the candidates have indicated, I believe, a strong interest in supporting (the relocation), so perhaps we can get some support in that respect moving forward.”

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