VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – After several years and millions of dollars spent on creating plans for Surrey’s light rail transit, why are we now suspending those plans?
That’s what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants to know.
TransLink’s Mayors’ Council decided to pause Surrey’s light rail transit plans Thursday, following the election of Doug McCallum as mayor in that city. McCallum favours the idea of SkyTrain.
It’s already cost millions to get to this point — $50 million has already been spent on the LRT — but Kris Sims with the taxpayers group says voters aren’t to blame for the financial loses.
“I’m not blaming the voter. They were very clear that they don’t want LRT,” she says. “I think if you ask the average voter and the average taxpayer, they’d be very upset that they have these LRT plans already in place, and that they’ve already spent this money.”
WATCH: Surrey LRT project suspended
Back in 2014, previous mayor Linda Hepner campaigned on bringing LRT to Surrey, and she won by a large margin.
But Sims says there has been an overwhelming support for the SkyTrain option. She argues that means TransLink and the City of Surrey didn’t sufficiently consult transit users in the first place.
“I think a lot of people feel like they weren’t consulted and they weren’t heard,” she says. “Unfortunately, we’re now stuck with this big price tag for nothing.”
Surrey BOT disappointed LRT plans scrapped
Meanwhile, the Surrey Board of Trade is not happy plans for the LRT have been suspended.
CEO Anita Huberman says LRT would have been beneficial for the local economy, and moving to a new transportation system will mean more delays in building rapid transit in the city.
“Surrey has to wait until those plans are finalized and approved, and that’s what’s most concerning to the Surrey Board of Trade,” she says. “Again, we have to wait for transportation investments in Surrey.”
On top of that, she says there were already economic development plans along the light rail corridor. Stopping the LRT will disrupt those plans.
“It really was meant to be a community-building type of transportation infrastructure that would connect to the region through the existing SkyTrain infrastructure,” she says.
– With files from Renee Bernard, Monika Gul