LETTERS: SkyTrain funding shortfall can be alliviated

Editor:

Instead of opposing the building of the (16.5-km) “Fraser Highway SkyTrain” line – ostensibly because the currently committed $1.6 billion of public funding is $1.3 billion short of TransLink’s $2.9 billion design/construction estimate – Mayor Darryl Walker and his obstreperous mayors’ council colleagues should have made – and should be making suggestions for how this $1.3 billion shortfall could be alleviated.

Here’s one: Have the project delivered and operated as a “public-private partnership” (P3)- similar to the enormously successful 19.5-km “Canada Line” that connects Richmond, the airport and the downtown Vancouver waterfront.

The Fraser Highway SkyTrain project’s $1.3 billion funding shortfall could easily be made up with equal contributions from: a P3 private sector consortium ($650 million) and from the B.C. and federal governments ($650 million, or $325 million each).

In order to increase its attractiveness to potential P3 private sector participants, the project’s scope should be expanded with a five-km northward extension from King George Station along or adjacent to King George Boulevard to Scott Road Station (with consequential costs increases split equally between the private sector and the B.C. and federal governments).

This would allow for the existing “Expo Line” tracks and elevated guideways (south of Scott Road Station) to be decommissioned, with much of the valuable empty fields and parking lots over which these tracks/guideways pass, to be redeveloped, potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars in developers’ fees that could be used to pay for badly needed recreation centres, libraries, and the like.

Ideally, the project’s scope would be expanded further still, to include an extension following the same route as the now cancelled “LRT” project: between Guildford and Newton.

Mayor Walker should be advocating for and taking actions to have a network of SkyTrain lines expeditiously built in the perennially neglected South of Fraser sub-region, not manufacturing false-logic excuses for opposing this.

Roderick V. Louis, White Rock

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