Surrey LRT a go-ahead with funding announcement


The long-awaited first phase of Surrey’s LRT is a go-ahead, following today’s announcement of an agreement between the provincial government and the Mayor’s Council to fund the project. Billed as the largest transit and transportation investment in the history of the Metro Vancouver region, the plan will see:

  • Construction of the Surrey Guildford-Newton Light Rail (LRT)
  • Construction of Millennium Line Broadway Extension
  • Significant upgrade of existing Expo-Millennium Lines to expand capacity to meet and improve the customer experience
  • An 8% increase in bus service to address overcrowding, reduce wait times and bring bus services to communities with limited service
  • Improvements to sidewalks, bikeways, multi-use pathways and roadways

According to the media release, delivery of these projects will be funded by:

  • $1.6 billion in fare revenues expected from higher ridership resulting from service expansion in Phase Two, TransLink resources and efficiencies.
  • A 2% increase to all transit fares over two years beginning in 2020.
  • Parking lot sales tax increase of 15 cents per hour for an average $5 per hour parking.
  • $5.50 increase in property taxes per average household each year or about 46 cents a month, beginning in 2019.
  • About $300 to $600/unit increase to the Development Cost Charge on new residential developments depending on type of dwelling.
  • Revenue from a variety of transit-related commercial opportunities.

Construction by 2019 – Phase 1 Completion by 2024

While federal matching of the provincial funding still needs to be finalized, it is expected that the first phase of the Surrey LRT line between Guildford – City Centre – Newton will likely be under construction by late 2019, with completion by 2024. Not only will the project bring a new a rapid transit line to the South Fraser, it will also be a game-changer in how it will integrate with, and transform the neighbourhoods it passes through. In conjunction with the City Centre Plan and the Guildford-104 Avenue Plan, LRT corridors will be gradually transformed with 4-6-storey density along each route, with higher density mixed-use nodes at key intersections and throughout City Centre, Guildford Town Centre, and Newton Town Centre.

Planned route of Phase 1 & 2 of the Surrey LRT network
Conceptual rendering of a revitalized Newton Town Centre with LRT integration
Conceptual rendering of King George Blvd in Newton with LRT, bike-lanes, and 4-6-storey urban density
Conceptual rendering of LRT plaza integration at Newton Town Centre
Conceptual rendering of LRT integration along a repurposed 104 Avenue corridor
LRT integration on a pedestrianized City Parkway at Central Ave in City Centre

A new tier of rapid transit for Metro Vancouver

LRT will introduce a new layer of rapid transit service to Metro Vancouver that is complimentary to SkyTrain. It will serve as a more localized, finer-grained service, compared to SkyTrain which can be seen as more of a regional commuter train service. Tiered transit systems are common around the world, with various forms of rail combining to form an intricate and dynamic transit network. A good example of this is Berlin, Germany where there are 4 tiers of rail within its robust transit network. These include:

  • Regional Train (Comparable to WestCoast Express)
  • S-Bahn (Suburban service)
  • U-Bahn (Urban service – Comparable to SkyTrain)
  • MetroTram LRT (Fine-grained urban service)

All of these lines converge at hub stations, with each tier serving a specific purpose.

Berlin rapid transit system featuring 4 tiers of rail – LRT lines shown in light grey

Example – Tiers of Rail Transit in Berlin

Regional Train (Comparable to West Coast Express)
S-Bahn – Suburban service (No comparison in Metro Vancouver)
U-Bahn – Urban service (Comparable to SkyTrain)
MetroTram (LRT) – Fine-grained urban service

Surrey LRT will bring the first fine-grained rail service to Metro Vancouver – appropriate for routes that are more localized, and less regional – such as the Guildford-City Centre-Newton line – but connecting to SkyTrain for regional commuter travel at hub stations. It is likely that we could see LRT build elsewhere in the region following Surrey, given its cost-effectiveness and appropriate scale for many other parts of the region.

City seeks public input on Guildford Town Centre – 104 Avenue Plan


The City of Surrey held a public open house last week on the in-progress, Guildford Town Centre – 104 Avenue Plan. The plan, which has been under study since last year, is seeking to define a vision and prepare a long-range land-use plan to guide future growth along the 104 Avenue Corridor and Guildford Town Centre areas.

Presented to the public at the open house last week were 2 land-use concept options, along with a proposed street network, bicycle and pedestrian network, and parks and open space concept.

Land-Use Concept Option 1: Focused Growth

Land-Use Concept Option 1 seeks to focus growth and density in key areas of the plan, such as along 104 Avenue and areas surrounding Guildford Town Centre. The plan envisions:

  • A continuous stretch of 6-storey mixed-use/apartments (Dark orange) along 104 Avenue
  • Mid to high-rise mixed-use (pink) at 104 Ave & 144 St.
  • Mid to high-rise along 104 Ave east of 148 St and to the north and east of Guildford Town Centre – with the tallest tower heights (purple) concentrated on the former Sears site.
  • 4-storey apartment areas (light orange) dispersed throughout the plan area
  • Townhouses (yellow) in a few areas
  • Single Family housing preserved in a number of areas, mostly west of 148 St.
Land-Use Concept Option 1: Focused Growth


Land-Use Concept Option 2: Dispersed Growth

Land-Use Concept Option 2, while very similar, seeks to disperse growth and densities over the plan area, with lower intensities of density, but increased density covering more area. This includes:

  • A wider continuous stretch of 6-storey mixed-use/apartments (Dark orange) along 104 Avenue
  • Mid to high-rise mixed-use (Pink) to the north and east of Guildford Town Centre.
  • 4-storey apartment areas (light orange) more widely dispersed throughout the plan area
  • Townhouses (yellow) more widely dispersed across the plan area
  • Slightly less preserved Single Family housing.
Land-Use Concept Option 2: Dispersed Growth


Proposed Street Network

The proposed street network adds a number of new local and collector streets to improve connectivity through a finer-grained network. One of these new collectors is the currently underway 105A Avenue connector project which will provide an alternate east-west route to 104 Avenue linking City Centre to Guildford. A long-range new street network is shown on the site of Guildford Town Shopping Centre – envisioning the future redevelopment of this mall into an urban district far into the future – similar to the vision for the Metropolis at Metrotown Shopping Centre site in Burnaby under the Metrotown Plan.


Proposed Bike and Pedestrian Network

The proposed bike and pedestrian network creates a number of new multi-use paths and road-separated bike lanes improving connectivity throughout the plan area. Pedestrian and cycling crossings at busy intersections would be enhanced under the plan to improve safety and streetscape integration. Existing bike lanes would be upgraded to be physically separated from the road.


Proposed Parks and Open Space

The proposed parks and open space plan illustrates how parks, habitat areas, and the city’s Green Infrastructure Network will be integrated into the plan area. A key feature of the plan is a ‘Green Loop’ pedestrian and cycling network stretching east-west with north-south connections – improving non-automobile connectivity in the area and connecting the many parks. In addition to existing parks shown in light green, many new parks are shown in dark green, including expansions to Hawthorne Park.


Future Light Rail Transit (LRT)


An integral part of the 104 Avenue – Guildford Town Centre Plan area will be the new LRT line linking City Centre to Guildford along 104 Avenue, and further south to Newton. This urban-style, low floor, LRT system will not just be a rapid transit line passing through the area, but a fully streetscape-integrated, centrepiece of the 104 Avenue corridor. Combined with a continuous 6-storey mixed-use density along 104 Avenue, the corridor will be transformed into a transit/pedestrian-oriented and prioritized streetscape, similar to precedents in Europe and elsewhere around the world. The LRT will support the densities along the the 104 Avenue Corridor, and integrate seamlessly into the community – unlike SkyTrain which bisects and has a negative visual and physical impact on the streetscape.


To find out more about the Guildford Town Centre – 104 Avenue Plan, and participate in the public survey – visit:

Surrey invited to MIPIM Cannes – world’s leading property exhibition


The City of Surrey has been invited to participate at this year’s Les Marché International des Professionels de l’immoblier (MIPIM) – taking place March 13-16 in Cannes, France. Surrey is the only Western Canadian city participating at the conference – but will be joined by Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, and the Niagara Region who will also have a presence.

MIPIM is one of the largest and most prestigious real estate conferences in the world. It has been the international stage where Toronto’s Waterfront Project and Montreal’s Downtown Arts & Entertainment District have been profiled and attracted investment. It is also where Bing Thom Architects’ won a Special Jury Award in 2004 for the Central City building – as the world’s best overall new development for its architecture and building innovation.

At this year’s MIPIM, Mayor Linda Hepner has been personally invited to speak on behalf of Surrey in a panel discussion on the topic of City as a Service, the New Urban Reality, as well as participate at a number of related events at the conference. Being invited to participate at MIPIM is an indication of Surrey’s emerging recognition as an internationally relevant city for future growth and investment.


With more than 24,000 real estate investors from over 100 countries in attendance, MIPIM provides a unique platform for promoting Surrey globally as a place to invest, which can help to accelerate the city’s transformation. In addition to Mayor Hepner’s participation at the event, Invest Surrey & Partners will be showcasing Surrey as North America’s ‘Next Metropolitan Centre’ through a presentation centre to be located in the exhibition area of the main venue. Blackwood Partners, the owners of Central City, will also be attending to promote and attract investment in their upcoming ‘Central City 2’ office tower project.

Invest Surrey & Partner’s presentation centre at MIPIM 2018

For more on Surrey’s invitation to MIPIM:

Evolve – Photo Update

WestStone Group’s Evolve in West Village has been progressing at a swift pace lately – having now reached a height of 28 storeys. With 7 more levels to go + a 2-storey rooftop amenity before reaching its final height of 37 storeys – the building should be topped out around mid-april. It can be expected to take another 6-8 months following that to reach full completion – putting an occupancy date somewhere near the end of 2018 / early 2019.

Evolve is Phase 4 of WestStone’s 8-phase, master-planned West Village neighbourhood. It will consist of 389 condo units, 13 townhouse units, and a 3-storey commercial building containing ground-level retail with office above.

Looking north on 133 St
Looking east from 133 St
Looking east through a future pedestrian corridor towards Civic Plaza
Looking south on 133 St
Looking east along Central Avenue
Townhouse units along Central Avenue
North facade of tower
3-Storey retail/office component on Central Avenue
Looking south from parkette at Wave
Looking south – Wave parkette and public art sculpture in foreground
South side of office/retail building

For more on Evolve:

Dominion Bar + Kitchen and Civic Hotel nearing completion


The long awaited opening of Civic Hotel may finally be just around the corner. After numerous delays – having originally been set to open back in November – the hotel is finally showing signs that it is nearing completion. This week, fencing came down from in front of the building’s main lobby and Dominion Bar + Kitchen fronting Civic Plaza. In addition, landscaping has been planted next to Dominion’s patio, and a newly opened portion of Central Avenue. Signage for Dominion has also been installed on the awning.

While no official date has been set for opening, according to the Dominion Bar + Kitchen website, the restaurant is tentatively scheduled to host its first event – a comedy show – on April 21, 2018. The Marriott reservations website is now taking bookings for Civic Hotel for dates beginning on March 28, 2018 (although the available booking date has been pushed back in the past).

Despite looking nearing completion, it seems we will still have to wait another month or two before the hotel and restaurant open. Numerous things remain to be finished on the building including a number of additional signs to be installed, the removal of a construction elevator on the condo portion of the building, the completion of Civic Plaza lane on the north side of the building, the construction of Prado Cafe on the north side, and the finishing of numerous retail units along City Parkway. It is clear now that the building will open in phases – with the Hotel and Dominion Bar + Kitchen opening first, retail units along City Parkway likely following later this spring, the Condo tower by summer, and the 5-storey KPU campus this fall.

According to sources working on the project – one reason for the delayed opening of the building has been a water leak, affecting the elevator shaft of the main tower. This has delayed the removal of the exterior construction elevator for several months, as well as the exterior finishing of the north side of the tower, where the future Prado Cafe, and an exterior green wall will be. Rumours on the forum SkyscraperPage this week indicated that the construction elevator may finally be coming down by next week, which would hopefully help wrap up the exterior of the building prior to the hotel’s opening in less than 2 months. Regardless, it seems the building will remain an active construction site (at least on the inside) on the main tower and KPU portion, while the hotel and restaurant open on the other.

Dominion Bar + Kitchen nearing completion fronting Civic Plaza
Landscaping along Central Avenue next to the Dominion Bar + Kitchen Patio
Staircase and entry to Dominion Bar + Kitchen Patio
New sidewalk along Central Avenue next to Dominion Bar + Kitchen Patio
Dominion Bar + Kitchen + Civic Hotel Entrance along Civic Plaza Lane
Daytime shot of Dominion Bar + Kitchen – additional signage for Civic Hotel still to be installed on podium
Dominion Bar + Kitchen featuring numerous doors/windows which will open to the Plaza
Civic Hotel Lobby
Civic Hotel Lobby
Civic Plaza Lane in front of Hotel Lobby

Hawthorne Park Plan in Perspective

It was misreported this week that hundreds of trees were cut down in Hawthorne Park for light rail transit after drone footage was posted to YouTube showing tree clearing for a new extension of 105A Avenue. The clearing was actually for the 105A Avenue connector project itself – which has been planned for 30 years – and is independent of, and pre-dates the LRT project itself. The new road is however being fast-tracked in advance of LRT, to provide a relief route for traffic once construction begins on 104 Avenue. The road was planned to be constructed regardless of whether LRT, SkyTrain, or no rapid transit was planned at all for 104 Avenue.

In the drone footage and captured images – a large clearing of trees is shown giving the dramatic impression of a clear-cut of the park to make way for the new road (or LRT if you’ve been mislead by headlines). The reality is, this cleared area only represents a small fraction of the park’s vast forested area, and the road itself will only consume a narrow 2-lane wide portion of this, with the remainder to be used for a new aquatic habitat and enhanced environmental area. The cleared area also skirts the edge of undeveloped treed lots to the south – giving the impression of cutting through the middle of the park in this area – when in fact the road runs along the edge of the park.

Captured image from drone footage showing clearing along southern edge of Hawthorne Park.
Cleared area in perspective – majority to be used for new aquatic habitat/environmental area. Lands to south are private property outside park designated for future mixed-use.

While the tree clearing for western portions of 105A Avenue does cut more through the park rather than skirt the edge – when put into perspective – this cleared area pales in comparison to the remaining forested lands preserved elsewhere in the park. Further to this – planned expansions of the park, reclaimed green space from relocating the parking lot, and the new aquatic habitat and environmental enhancement area more than offset the impacts of the minor 2-lane collector road that is to be constructed – not to be confused with an arterial road as misreported by the Daily Hive.

105A connector routing through the southern edge of Hawthorne Park in perspective. Vast majority of park to be preserved, expanded, and enhanced.
Artist rendering of new 2-lane 105A connector and new aquatic habitat, environmental enhancement area, and future development site south of 105A Avenue outside of Park.
Artist rendering of new 2-lane 105A connector along edge of Hawthorne Park and new aquatic habitat, environmental enhancement area, and relocated parking lot/reclaimed green space.

The new 2-lane road (planned for 30 years) will not only add much needed east-west capacity to Surrey’s road network between densifying City Centre and Guildford, but also improve accessibility to Hawthorne Park – better integrating it with its evolving urban context, with new gateway features, pathways, and entrances – which will result in more people using and enjoying the park. Today, it remains a largely hidden, underutilized, rural park from a previous era, that is easy to pass by without recognizing it is even there.

It is important to realize, that a road through a park isn’t the end or destruction of Hawthorne Park or a call for protest, particularly when so much value and improvements will be added to offset the impacts. Many world renowned parks have roads through them, and are doing just fine.

Some examples of great parks with roads through them:

  • Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC
  • Central Park, New York, USA
  • Tiergarten Park, Berlin, Germany
  • And the list goes on.. and on.

Hawthorne Park will live on, and emerge even better than before.

For more on the 105A Connector and Hawthorne Park Improvements project: