The Surrey Board of Trade delivered a strong message to the TransLink Mayors’ Council today. Staying true to SBOT’s long advocacy for the Light Rail Transit Project, CEO Anita Huberman proposed that TransLink build LRT in Phase 1, as planned, and work towards planning a skytrain on Fraser Highway in Phase 2, as a compromise.
The approved Regional Transportation Plan incorporated a design for leading edge LRT technology to connect Surrey’s town centres. This would alleviate the internal traffic congestion and grow Surrey as the destination for residents. LRT, with its skytrain connections at City Centre would be connected to the Metro Vancouver Region. The project is community building and innovative land use planning at its best with a combination of leading edge technology and smart growth planning.
“The Surrey Board of Trade wants an urban environment that inspires livability, cycling options, development densification, a sense of community that connects all the town centres,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.
However, today, the TransLink Mayors’ Council voted to suspend LRT work in Surrey and to start re-working the 10 year South of the Fraser Transit Plan. No details were provided on timelines for planning development or business case costing for a skytrain on Fraser Highway.
“What was clear at today’s meeting is that Surrey will again be delayed in transportation investments. It took nearly 10 years to develop the current transportation plan. I doubt very much that it will take a couple of Mayors’ Council meetings to develop and approve what will likely be a completely re-worked plan. I am also very doubtful that the costing details of skytrain construction or property tax impacts on businesses, will be ready in one month,” Huberman continued.
Additional points raised by the Surrey Board of Trade CEO at today’s TransLink Mayors’ Council meeting are:
- Without LRT, the traffic on King George into Newton will become more gridlocked;
- It will be a lot longer to build Skytrain to get to Langley than LRT;
- What is unknown, is whether business property taxes will increase to subsidize a skytrain project along Fraser Highway – as current funding will only take skytrain to 160 Street;
- In today’s economic situation with all the demands being made for funding, can any level of government justify throwing away the $20 million already invested in LRT by the City of Surrey, and the $50 million spent by Translink, when there is no evidence that Skytrain is better than LRT;
- The indication that Skytrain will “replace” LRT is misleading as the proposed skytrain route down the Fraser Highway does nothing for the Newton and Guildford Town Centres – in fact LRT was to also add vibrancy to Downtown Surrey, and
- A Langley-anchored skytrain passes through a large urban park, ALR flood plain, and lower-density suburban development like Clayton/Cloverdale. Indeed, the only true regional centres will be at King George and Langley City itself.
The Surrey Board of Trade will continue to encourage innovative city-building – place-making as a form of economic development to ensure:
- Employment and job creation;
- Modern infrastructure that attracts and retains next generation talent and investment;
- Rapid and reliable local and regional transportation that provides access and opportunity; and
- Responses to climate change are adhered to ensure a positive quality of life for future generations.
The Surrey Board of Trade wants a modern value proposition that emphasizes Surrey’s strengths in urban renewal, innovation, citizen engagement, and quality of life. We continue to want that for Surrey even in the face of local and regional policy changes.
The Surrey Board of Trade supports and attracts business to Surrey – as a city building business organization, we represent approximately 6,000 business contacts. We have been in Surrey since 1918. Transportation and education are the economic foundations of building Surrey’s thriving and vibrant city. Surrey will be the largest city in BC very soon.
To emphasize, as an independent business organization, the Surrey Board of Trade is within our mandate to voice our perspective. There is a chamber of commerce/board of trade in every city all over the world. It is a 500-year industry that serves as a concierge of connections and instigates change/ideas at the different levels of government for business.
Thank you for your continued support of Surrey’s city building business organization, the Surrey Board of Trade.
CEO, Surrey Board of Trade