COLUMN: Surrey-Langley SkyTrain moves one step closer

SkyTrain service between Surrey and Langley is one step closer.

TransLink is beginning a consultation process about the proposed line between King George Station and Langley City. It is part of an expedited effort to build a business case and bring the project to the TransLink board and the Mayors’ Council by July, in order to get the whole complicated process of actually building the line underway as soon as possible. Likely completion date for at least the first part of the line is 2025.

There will also be consultation on what type of rapid transit would be best along the Newton-Guildford corridor that was proposed as an LRT line, until that plan was shot down by the new Surrey council at its first meeting in November.

This consultation will include seeking public opinion on B-Lines and future transit to South Surrey and White Rock, and along Scott Road.

As the consultation plan was announced April 4, (there will be open houses in Surrey and Langley this month, as well as online consultation at www.surreylangleyskytrain.ca), several other related matters add complexity to the rapid transit plan.

Surrey Coun. Brenda Locke is suggesting a freeze on approving most developments along Fraser Highway until an updated community plan, allowing for more density, can be put together. She anticipates this will delay any proposals for about eight months. Surrey council has yet to vote on her suggestion.

Premier John Horgan has added his own voice to the issue. Horgan said in a Globe and Mail interview that there needs to be increased density along expensive rapid transit lines, in order to both justify the huge costs but also add much-needed housing. The province’s opinion is important – it contributes 40 per cent of the capital costs of these projects.

The comments from both Horgan and Locke indicate that densities along Fraser Highway, in both Surrey and Langley, may have to be increased far more dramatically than current plans envision. In particular, that could mean highrises in Fleetwood and Clayton in Surrey, and in the Willowbrook area of Langley. There could also be a much more intense focus on social housing projects, which are few and far between along that corridor.

Meanwhile, another proposal which has mostly slumbered for the past few decades is once again being promoted – use of the interurban corridor between Chilliwack and Surrey for passenger rail. Former Langley Township Mayor and Delta Coun. Rick Green is spearheading the idea of a hydrogen-powered train, which would be very cheap to get into operation, as compared to building SkyTrain or even LRT.

Green played a key role in ensuring that passenger rights along the corridor, which is owned by BC Hydro, stayed intact when up for renewal. Municipalities in the Fraser Valley Regional District, notably Abbotsford and Chilliwack, aren’t even a part of discussions about future rapid transit. Yet the central and upper Fraser Valley continue to grow at a fast pace, driven by high real estate costs further west. There are no current plans to upgrade Highway 1, which is often a parking lot during the work week and on summer weekends.

In Surrey, the interurban line goes through Cloverdale, Sullivan, Newton and parallels Scott Road. The line crosses Scott Road adjacent to the Scott Road SkyTrain station.

There are many hurdles to cross before such a rail service can even move to the planning stage. Nonetheless, it addresses two very important needs – a need to build more rapid transit at a reasonable cost, and a need to bring rapid transit to areas that are currently badly underserved by transit.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News.

frank.bucholtz@gmail.com

Just Posted

South Surrey woman promotes exercise to help fight Parkinson’s disease

‘This keeps me strong’ says Liz Holroyd Campbell, organizer of the 2019 Parkinson Superwalk

VIDEO: Young balance-bikers race through Surrey’s Civic Plaza at Strider Cup

The course has several obstacles including ‘Mount Scary’ and the ‘Noodle Monster’

White Rock Beer For The Pier to go on sale early this week

Restaurants, bars and liquor stores from Vancouver to Chilliwack will sell new brew

45-year-old ID’ed as victim of South Surrey stabbing

Delphin Paul Prestbakmo died at the scene, near 18 Avenue and 152 Street

‘Potentially life-threatening’ injuries in overnight Surrey crash

Police had Highway 10 between 180th and 186th streets closed for several hours

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Most Read

l -->