METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – New Metro Vancouver mayors being sworn in Monday include Vancouver’s Kennedy Stewart, Burnaby’s Mike Hurley and Doug McCallum in Surrey. McCallum has promised the first order of business will be solidifying plans to ditch light rail for SkyTrain.
The inaugural Surrey council meeting takes place Monday night, and one re-elected city councillor in Langley is worried. Nathan Pachal says his main concern is just how far that SkyTrain line would reach into Langley.
“The original plan was to put light rail from Newton to downtown Surrey to 104th … McCallum has stated that he wants to cancel that and then do that for SkyTrain along Fraser Highway,” Pachal said.
“From my perspective, if they did shift that and we got SkyTrain and it was the same price, that would be great. I would accelerate it, from a Langley City perspective. My understanding though is that SkyTrain does cost significantly more money to build than light rail. So, one of the challenges will be to come up with that additional funding.”
Pachal says he doesn’t care which option ultimately gets built, but there’s only enough money available to reach the Fleetwood district and there’s no guarantee other levels of government will kick in more funding.
“The worst case scenario, I think, would be building SkyTrain to Fleetwood and calling it a day. That would delay rail rapid transit to Langley City for an indeterminate amount of time.”
McCallum still needs to convince other Metro Vancouver mayors a new SkyTrain line can be built for $1.65 billion. Critics suggest the real cost is closer to three billion.
“We need rail transit period. What technology, it’s really up to other people to hash that out,” Pachal said.
“I hope that as [McCallum] looks at changing the plan around that it doesn’t cause the full transit plan to destabilize and that we’re able to ensure that rail rapid transit ends up to Langley City.”
Other Metro Vancouver mayors have suggested the $50 million spent developing the LRT project should be paid back. McCallum has already rejected that suggestion.