Trains, housing, jobs dominate federal concerns in White Rock

Rail relocation 'makes all the sense in the world': Fleetwood-Port Kells MP.

A discussion on the upcoming federal budget

A discussion on the upcoming federal budget

Rail relocation and affordable housing dominated discussions at an event Saturday that offered Peninsula residents the chance to chime in on the next federal budget.

The event, hosted at the White Rock Community Centre by the South Surrey-White Rock Federal Liberal Association, drew an “enthusiastic and very engaged” crowd of more than 100, according to association president Bill Brooks.

“Not bad for a Saturday afternoon in the rain,” Brooks said, noting feedback forms collected from attendees are being delivered to the federal finance minister this week.

Discussions were moderated by MP Ken Hardie – one of four Liberals elected in Surrey’s five ridings – who touched several times upon the “challenging” economic circumstances the country faces.

Several in the crowd brought up relocating the rail line away from the White Rock/South Surrey waterfront, which Hardie – who sits on the Transport, Infrastructure and Communities subcommittee – said “makes all the sense in the world.”

“The only thing is… we have to have an open, honest and transparent process for the people who live along that corridor,” the Fleetwood-Port Kells MP said.

“Gone are the days when any government can just simply bulldoze its way through and do what it wants.”

The issue of unaffordable real estate – which one speaker said was “driving the young ones out of the city” – was also brought up by several in attendance, with suggestions that Canada look at the Australian taxation model with regards to foreign housing investments.

Additional topics of discussion included youth mental health concerns, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, replacement of the Massey Tunnel and job opportunities for those who are hearing impaired.

Liberal Judy Higginbotham, who lost to Conservative Dianne Watts in last fall’s federal election in South Surrey-White Rock, delivered opening comments.

Brooks told Peace Arch News Monday that although Saturday’s event was organized by the Liberal association, “any and all political stripes” were in attendance.

Brooks also said the local Liberal association will likely hold similar events in other areas of the riding.