LRT to SkyTrain not a simple ‘switch’

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With Doug McCallum’s win in last weekend’s election, Surrey appears to be in for change. Campaigning heavily on LRT and Safety, the topic of discussion now is whether he will deliver on his promise to ‘scrap’ LRT and ‘replace’ it with SkyTrain. It appears the majority of Surrey residents are in favour of this – fuelled by non-stop negative publicity of LRT in the media – but what does an LRT to SkyTrain ‘switch’ actually mean for Surrey? A few key implications to consider:

SkyTrain vs LRT – 2 different routes

A misconception that many who ‘voted’ for SkyTrain over LRT may have may have is that the proposed LRT will simply be ‘switched’ to SkyTrain. This is not the case – each would run along a different route. Let’s look at the difference:

LRT – City Centre-Newton-Guildford: The proposed ‘Phase 1’ LRT route – with secured funding and significant planning and design work already completed – is planned run from Guildford along 104 Avenue to City Centre, then south on King George Blvd to Newton. This is known as the ‘L’ Line or Surrey-Netwon-Guildford Line – serving Surrey’s most populated, and urban town centres.

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Phase 1 LRT route along 104 Ave & King George Blvd + future Phase 2 route to Langley

SkyTrain – Fraser Highway: Doug McCallum’s SkyTrain – which would need to be planned and designed from scratch – would provide no rapid transit to Guildford or Newton (Surrey’s most populated / urban town centres) – but instead be an extension of the existing Expo Line down Fraser Highway to Fleetwood, Cloverdale (Surrey’s least populated / urban town centres) and Langley.

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SkyTrain extension to Langley along Fraser Hwy through low density suburbs / ALR to Langley

The Land-Use Difference

LRT: The proposed ‘Phase 1’ LRT route would serve Surrey’s most established urban corridors with the highest densities – 104 Avenue and King George Blvd. Guildford Town Centre contains the regions 2nd largest shopping centre, numerous high-rises and offices. Further, the currently underway Guildford-104 Avenue Corridor Plan which is set to become adopted in 2019, has designated land all along 104 Avenue between City Centre and Guildford for increased urban densities appropriate for a rapid transit corridor. A similar plan is set to follow for the King George corridor between City Centre and Newton. Simply put – 104 Avenue and King George Blvd are the most appropriate corridors for initial rapid transit expansion in Surrey due to their already underway land-use planning for higher density, and their existing densities, land-use, and most urban character of Surrey’s corridors.

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Phase 1 LRT route along existing urban corridors with planned density
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Guildford – 104 Avenue Corridor Plan – urban density planned along LRT route

SkyTrain: Doug McCallum’s SkyTrain would run down Fraser Highway which currently has no land-use plans for significant urban density underway, and is currently of the lowest density and suburban of corridors in Surrey. The SkyTrain route would run through:

  • Green Timbers Forest for the first 2km of its route
  • the low density suburban neighbourhood of Fleetwood for the next 5km
  • ALR farm land for the next 2km
  • and finally low density suburban Clayton/Cloverdale and Langley for the remaining 6km of the route

This route would have the lowest densities of any SkyTrain corridor in the region – including significant stretches through forest and ALR farm land – unseen anywhere else on the SkyTrain system. SkyTrain along Fraser Highway would require significant land-use changes along Fraser Highway to justify it – including significant increases in density, high-rise towers, and transit-oriented development – similar to elsewhere along the SkyTrain network. This would require changes to the Official Community Plan (OCP) – ironically Doug McCallum campaigned against OCP amendments.

Simply put – this type of development is incompatible with the scale and character of the Fraser Highway corridor that is predominantly newer single family homes and townhomes. Many living along that corridor would surely object to such drastic land-use changes appropriate for a SkyTrain line.

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SkyTrain extension through low density suburbs / ALR with no planned urban density

From a land-use planning perspective – it makes the most sense to serve the highest density corridors and urban centres (104 Avenue – King George Blvd) with rapid transit prior to lower density corridors such as Fraser Highway. Instead, a SkyTrain extension over LRT would do the exact opposite of what makes sense. While it is important to provide a rapid transit link to Langley, and connect the communities of Fleetwood, Clayton/Cloverdale with regional rapid transit – from a land-use and planning perspective these areas are lower priority than Guildford and Newton – and Fraser Highway does not have density appropriate for SkyTrain. In an ideal world, Langley would be serviced by long-distance commuter rail such as all-day WestCoast Express – but realistically – LRT may be the best option for serving Langley down Fraser Highway as a Phase 2 project – given the density, scale, and character of that corridor.

Uncertain Timeline

LRT: Funding for the proposed ‘Phase 1’ LRT route is “in the mail” from the Federal and Provincial Governments. Significant planning, consultation work, and design has been underway for years, and the project is now at the procurement stage with construction set to begin in 2019 and completion by 2024.

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LRT scheduled to begin construction in 2019 – years of planning, consultation, design already complete.

SkyTrain: Doug McCallum claims that secured funding for LRT can simply be ‘switched’ to fund a SkyTrain extension to Langley instead of the Guildford Newton line. While this may be possible, as the funding doesn’t specify a type of rail – the fact is – no planning, consultation, or design work has been completed on a SkyTrain extension down Fraser Highway. The amount of time and additional resources that would need to go into a SkyTrain extension prior to its construction would not only delay the project for an unforeseen number of extra years – pushing completion of this line to the late 2020’s.

By that time, Phase 2 of the LRT is likely to be under construction – resulting in Surrey having 2 new rapid transit lines by the late 2020’s instead of just a single SkyTrain extension down low-density Fraser Hwy within the same time frame.

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While these reasons aren’t exhaustive in the debate – they are very key ones that have been surprisingly absent talking points. Surrey residents may not have been the best informed on the SkyTrain vs LRT debate thanks to the media – to make an educated decision that weighs more factors than just ‘speed of service’ and ‘glamour of SkyTrain vs LRT’ – but in the end it may not matter. The LRT project is likely too far along at this stage and with too much else to consider to simply be ‘switched’. It is being led by non-partisan land-use and transit planning experts in the Planning & Transportation Departments (not the former Mayor or Councillors as some may believe) – experts who should be leading such projects – rather than transit planning on a whim by politicians and voters.

100 thoughts on “LRT to SkyTrain not a simple ‘switch’

  1. U are exactly wright on your comments. Thx for sharing all the info u do. Come for breakfast at the Roundup Cafe it won’t be around for much longer. Next year marks 60 years of service to the community for our family.

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    1. The LRT would be fine as far as I am concerned. The trains would have the right away at all lights and and has been in design a few years.
      Nit McCallum change to SkyTrain iicest. Another 1 billion will be needed after planning a new route getting langley to kick in there share and be agreed upon a new transit board.

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  2. Your argument is compelling except for a couple things:

    1) Not a whole lot of public consultation was done for this expert recommended ‘LRT’ because the numbers do tell something else….if a total of 120,000 people live in Fleetwood & Cloverdale combined in 2018, and a total of 200,000 people live in Guildford & Newton combined in 2018, how is it that over 70% of voters ultimately chose to build skytrain/pause LRT??? You lost your argument when you said that “experts should be leading such projects – rather than transit planning on a whim by politicians and voters”…guess what, voters pay the taxes, NOT EXPERTS! Experts are just a tool… they make recommendations, voters make the DECISION.

    2) Diane & Linda developed these “to be adopted in 2019” land-use plans for 104th & King George based on anticipating rapid transit (LRT)… may i mention without any public consultation. That’s their wrong doing. Before they embarked on these land-use plans & increased densities, maybe they should have consulted the residents of Surrey on what their preferred transit option is. If surrey had its own transit authority, more power for them to push for LRT along their urban corridors. What you forget is that Translink is a regional transit authority, not a local one. Translink’s goal, which they seemed to have forgotten, is to connect the region and promote regional mobility, reduce greenhouse gases, and promote the regional growth strategy, not the surrey growth strategy, i.e Diane/Linda’s strategy for Guildford & Newton.

    3. Population projection in the different corridors is expected to increase by 70,000 by 2041. The same population increase in Guildford & Newton is expected in Cloverdale & Fleetwood (70,000). So i’m not what you mean by ‘increased urban densities appropriate for rapid transit’. Both these corridors are projected to grow at the same rate. And the mayor-elect has clearly stated that while he will pause development, he will push for ‘smart development’…i.e development where the infrastructure is appropriate…like you know, a sky train corridor. The same way Diane & Linda were about to ammend the OCP, which you can kiss good-bye to, is the same way Doug will ammend the OCP to allow for higher densities in the future skytrain corridors, and encourage smart development – something he did campaign for.

    4. Surrey voters are well informed by the way… we are not ignorant. We don’t have bias, nor are we looking for some quick profits along these so called ‘urban corridors’ on guildford & newton. Surrey voters dont not want an inferior, dangerous, congestive, slower LRT when the rest of the region has skytrain. We are not second class citizens. We’ve done our research based on Translink’s own analysis & study 5 years ago that clearly states, from a lifecycle cost analysis perspective, SKYTRAIN by far has the best business case, while LRT is a money loser. We want a technology and system that is proven & succesful. Not a system that’s slightly better than the existing B-lines that already serve those routes.

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    1. Ditto!! The LRT route along 104th ave was a disaster in the making. Reducing 4 lanes of traffic to 2 would have been gridlock. It is already busy with 4 lanes as it is. The voters said NO to that. They also ruined the park on 144th st and were going to tear through the school ground on 150th to make way for the 105th ave corridor. That won’t happen now either thankfully.

      The LRT project was rammed through without public input by Surrey First and now those politicians are on the outside looking in. It may take a few years longer but extending the current Expo Line is the smartest way to go. The region would not have benefited from the LRT so why get Translink to build it. Thank goodness Doug came out of retirement to right the sinking ship and get things back on course.

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      1. Poor communication and marketing was the problem for LRT. The points are valid. The public was not informed and communicated properly until near the election. This allowed a lot of negative and false information about LRT to fester.

        The people that voted for Mayor-elect McCallum (pro Skytrain) voted out of sentiment/emotion. Most of them won’t even ride the proposed Skytrain when complete because of the population in the areas where the Skytrain will be. They voted for Skytrain because as Surrey residents they felt cheated and short handed, because all other municipalities are served by Skytrain. Its a classic “why can’t I have what others already have?”

        The lesson here is to ensure that the public is well informed of the benefits of any major project well in advance and combat false information from propagating and poisoning the public’s opinion.

        I also like to point out that Mayor-elect McCallum got 37% of the votes meaning 63% (majority) was not in favor of him. The next four years will be a long one.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I disagree. The voters were not duped. They were well informed and make the logical choice to scrap the slow LRT street car that would have messed with traffic. Calgary’s LRT is a disaster with all the accidents and death since it was first put in. 2 deaths recently highlight that cars and trains don’t mix.

        It was not just about Doug since most of his team got elected too. That speaks loud and clear. Surrey First was soundly defeated. Skytrain is a regional project as with all Skytrain projects. The LRT was a local vanity project that benefited just a few. Anyway, bye bye LRT.

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      3. Have you been to Hawthorne Park recently? They’ve completed phase 1 of the upgrades and it looks amazing! Much more sustainable than before. There’s a new expansive natural eco habitat for wildlife that also acts as catchment for rainwater. If anything the LRT helped improve the park!

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      4. I agree Sara. Hawthorne is beautiful. For a City that boast to be City of Parks, we deserve better looking parks. I love Hawthorne and I frequent it more now than ever.

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      5. There’s my point about misinformation. If you look at LRT’s website, the planned LRT for Surrey is not the same as Calgary’s. Also, street car is not LRT.

        I don’t think we have seen the last of LRT as the Skytrain is planned to be constructed “at grade” along Fraser Highway. From the sound of it, it looks like LRT that is segregated but I wonder how it will work at intersections since it is billed as “at grade.”

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      6. Just M, there is no point in convincing Kevin because he would not understand what u said and we think. Unfortunately, the majority of the people in Surrey are not educated enough to make a rational decision. Who in their right mind would want a skytrain to Langley when Surrey center is the place we need to develop? I don’t think this skytrain extension to Langley will happen anyway because it’s such a dumb idea to build such a long track for low density areas. However, the damage has already been done when a man like Mccullam was voted as the mayor. I am not looking forwards to the years ahead.

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      7. You have to re-think the 104 Avenue Corridor in order to get it. Your problem is you can only see 104 Avenue as a 20th century, car-oriented, busy arterial – very unpleasant for pedestrians, and no different than any other busy arterial.

        104 Avenue in the future can evolve into a transit / pedestrian / cycling oriented and prioritized corridor that is calmed, has a sense of place, and is attractive to walk along for shopping, cafes, living, etc. A world-class ‘great avenue’ connecting City Centre to Guildford.

        Car traffic under this scenario is prioritized to 100 and 108 Avenues. 104 can be much more than an auto-centric corridor. It’s about evolving your thinking to 21st century urban planning – not remaining stuck in the 20th.

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      8. I love the picture you paint of a modernized 21 C 104th ave Stephen! People should read Jane Jacobs then see how this could work! I live by 104th and 156 and welcome the LRT!

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      9. Why should I have to deter out of my way and use 100th or 108th? 104th ave is the main route for accessing Hwy #1 east and west. It doesn’t need a street car running down the middle of it. If you insist on your vision, buy up land on both sides of 104th and keep it as a 4 lane major roadway. 100th and 108th have too many lights to make it a viable alternative. The car is king and always will be.

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    2. If we’re going to talk about population, there are nearly 144,000 people between Fleetwood and Cloverdale; another nearly 26,000 in Langley City; and 55,000 people in the Langley Township communities of Willoughby-Willowbrook, Brookswood-Fernridge and Murrayville. All of these people would be within reach of the future SkyTrain extension and it’s not a small number by any means.

      If we’re going to talk about density, Clayton has some of the densest residential neighbourhoods in the Metro – the houses are more tightly spaced than Vancouver’s residential neighbourhoods, with so many people living there that the community is infamous for parking problems. Clayton was always designed in anticipation of rapid transit. There’s a lot of greenfield land between 188th and 192nd and this is clearly land that has been set aside for the dense development you can expect adjacent to a station.

      So why is this author joining the ranks of others trying to tell people that the LRT is “too far along to be cancelled”? My guess is that like many others, the author is panicking. There was maybe something in it for him from the LRT. I don’t know. But what I’m sure about is the reason that regional leaders (Mayors in other cities) are panicking, which is ironic given the clear superiority of a SkyTrain project in delivering benefits for the wider region.

      Most SkyTrain projects in the region started out as some sort of LRT proposal and then were switched over by some sort of senior-government led intervention. At the moment, the same switchover is happening as a result of a mass uprising and people overthrowing the previous government. So my hunch is they don’t want to see this go through on the basis that it sets a precedence that they probably don’t like. Because, now people will know that you CAN turn over billion dollar infrastructure projects at the local level by voting someone out and voting someone else in. It sets a terrifying presence for them as elected leaders, and I reckon there will be similar concerns around the country.

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      1. Excellent points about Clayton. I used to live in this area and many residents talked about how Skytrain would reach them eventually. This is the original plan!

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      2. I would argue there is something in it for you from the skytrain too since you have been protesting since day one. lol

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      3. Yes Clayton is a great example of compact single family density, more urban than much of East Vancouver – but it is still predominantly newer single family and townhouses, with a few 4-storey apartments.

        In comparison, the 104 Avenue Corridor / Guildford Town Centre / King George Corridor / Newton Town Centre (Phase 1 LRT route) is planned for significantly greater urban densities than Clayton – as these are the core urban corridors and town centres of Surrey.

        Clayton is a community on the suburban fringe of the region and physically separated from the contiguous urban agglomerate of the region by the ALR. The single family and townhouse development out there is still too low density to be appropriate for a SkyTrain line. That area of Surrey is not the focus for higher density development – towers are being focused around City Centre, Guildford, and in the future Newton Town Centre.

        Rapid Transit to Langley is important – but given the current and planned density of that corridor – better prioritized as a 2nd phase.

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  3. Guildford and Newton are I’m despe need for updated public transportation. We were very excited about the LRT and what it can do for the social fabric our our neighborhoods. The Skytrain will cost significantly more than the LRT and it still won’t address transportation issues in these constantly growing neighborhoods. With all the development happening in Guildford, Surrey Centre and Newton we need the LRT. Also, why would Surrey spend so much money on a Skytrain that would ultimately benefit Langley users?

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    1. I hope you voted Sara. Both votes for Gill and Hayne are over 50% of the votes. If Surrey First was not split we would have LRT.

      My point is Mayor-elect McCallum got 37% of votes. Majority of voters (63%) were not in favor of his ideas – Skytrain among others.

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      1. You’re absolutely right. Yes I did vote and was disappointed to see so many candidates. Those who did not have a chance of winning should have stepped down and let their votes go to other candidates. I think Gill would have definitely won if that was the case. Interstingly the CEO of TransLink has also stated numerous times the cost of Skytrain is far higher that what McCallum claims plus it wouldn’t address issues in Guildford, Newton and Surrey Centre.

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      2. You clearly weren’t paying attention because Bruce Hayne was also in favour a SkyTrain extension and pausing the previously proposed SNG LRT.

        The candidates that actively took a position of cancelling or pausing LRT in favour of extending SkyTrain received over 68% of the Mayoral votes. The near-sweep of Council by SSC candidates also demonstrates that LRT has been mass-rejected by Surrey voters.

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    2. I reckon the LRT project will still go ahead. This man Mccullam did nothing special for Surrey when he was a mayor in the past. Translink is not stupid, they would lose lot of money building such an extension to Langley. (Low ridership, more trains to cover the long distance, service and overhead cost) And it will set back the development of Surrey for many years. This man will be gone after his term.

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  4. There’s my point about misinformation. If you look at LRT’s website, the planned LRT for Surrey is not the same as Calgary’s. Also, street car is not LRT.

    I don’t think we have seen the last of LRT as the Skytrain is planned to be constructed “at grade” along Fraser Highway. From the sound of it, it looks like LRT that is segregated but I wonder how it will work at intersections since it is billed as “at grade.”

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  5. Our neighborhoods need LRT!! Have you seen all the development happening in Guilford and Newton?? How will skytrain address public transit issues in those neighborhoods?

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  6. All I am reading is a bunch of sour grapes. LRT lost so deal with it. Transit is a whole regional issue and not some pet project Watts/Hepner cooked up behind closed doors. Hepner was smart to bail out before the election because she knew the writing was on the wall. People I talked to were pissed that 104th was going to just 2 lanes. Forget that was the message voters are sending. BTW, Hawthorne Park is far worse off than before. Looks ugly!!

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    1. Wow talk about sour grape! I live right by Hawthorne Park and really enjoy the new design. It’s about it being ecologically healthy, so yes there are less roses and grass and more native plants but it’s better for the environment now.

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      1. The word I get from the new counselors is that the 105th ave project is not going to be completed. What is started will get finished but the road won’t get pushed east through the schoolyard on 148th. No need for it now that the major artery 104th ave will be left untouched.

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  7. Your idea that Surrey residents were “not the best informed” on this debate? I completely disagree.

    The recent mass rejection of LRT actually goes beyond a sentiment that Surrey deserves “the best system” or to be on the same level as the rest of the region. It’s important to recognize that the Light Rail vision presented by the City of Surrey had numerous serious and pressing flaws. Voters recognized the questionable business case numbers and performance/design metrics that just didn’t match previous expectations of a “rapid transit” system.

    Voters also overcame a LOT of misinformation pushed by the LRT support crowd and several attempts – including one by our B.C. premier – to shut down and discourage debate on this matter. The media did a fine job to educate citizens about any potential drawbacks of switching out the LRT projects. The people of Surrey and Langley voted to do the switch despite the drawbacks and in my view this is easily one of the most educated decisions that’s been had in our region on transit. You’re wrong!

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    1. Newton, City Centre and Guildford has very high transit ridership. The B lines are at or over capacity. It makes sense to have LRT connect this areas.

      Ridership along Fraser is very low even including Langley as most people in this area drive and densities are low compared to SNG.

      McCallum wants to build an “at grade” Skytrain to keep the budget. It sounds like a glorified and expensive LRT system. Unfortunately it will not have the elevated advantage of a true Skytrain system. It is very unlikely that this will be built at the same cost and timeline that LRT had. Who will pick up the tab when both Provincial and Federal government has already capped their contribution. McCallum said he will find the money by cutting cost on other services. Skytrain plus getting rid of RCMP will both be very costly. To top it off, he plans on reducing the City’s revenue by pausing development and removing parking rates.

      This is not just about LRT, this is bigger. Celebrate now for the nominal win but we will all suffer in the end.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great points!

        The irony of ‘pausing’ development (reducing revenue) and not allowing amendments to the OCP – while simultaneously advocating for a SkyTrain line that would require a major amendment to the OCP, and significant re-development outside of planned areas for development to support it.

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      2. Statements like this “Ridership along Fraser is very low even including Langley as most people in this area drive and densities are low compared to SNG” just goes to show that you dont get it…

        The number one goal of major regional transit projects is to get people OUT of their cars, especially those who don’t have access to any other option. The goal is to discourage urban sprawl (the kind you’ve seen in surrey) & encourage smart growth in sparsely located nodes….to serve not just the municipality, but the region. The goal is not to advance development in local urban corridors.

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  8. This article has some serious issues with how it is presented. Those ellipses on the maps that show the “High density” areas along 104 and King George Boulevard are highly misleading in scale, they do not accurately represent the zoning along that route at all, where significant portions are low density. You go out of your way to highlight Green Timbers and the ALR on the Skytrain map, but then claim Bear Creek Park on King George is high density zoning!

    If you are serious about urban planning you should replace that graphic with one that shows the true OCP block-by-block zoning for the route, not a vague untruthful ellipse.

    Fraser Highway is a historic road that has been in place since the early colonial days in the region. As such, it is lined from beginning to end with commercial and industrial zoned areas, and filled with business. It can easily be up-zoned for more density without impacting residents. We are are seeing similar upzoning on North Road with the Evergreen line, Brentwood with the Millennium Line and Bridgeport with the Canada Line. To describe it as a “low density residential corridor” makes it sound like there are no businesses and it is just houses, which makes me question if you have even driven down this road.

    Finally, you incorrectly state that “no planning, consultation, or design work has been completed on a SkyTrain extension down Fraser Highway”. The original plan was for the Skytrain to go down Fraser Highway, which is why it curves towards it at the end of the route. Translink has done numerous studies on this plan as well and come up with cost projections. In addition, many people along Fraser Highway have been expecting this for decades now, so to say “Many living along that corridor would surely object to such drastic land-use changes appropriate for a SkyTrain line” is unlikely speculation, as I suspect many people along the route have been prepared for this extension and the changes it will incur for quite some time.

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      1. Again – the ellipse is a generalized identification of the corridor. The ellipse does not imply Bear Creek Park is slated for high density development.

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    1. The ellipses shown down King George and 104 Avenue are generalized to identify them as the key urban corridors in Surrey.

      Refer to the currently underway Guildford – 104 Avenue Corridor Plan (also posted) to see the extent of urban density planned along that corridor. A similar King George corridor plan is to come in the future with similar urban density planned along it. These plans are finer grained than the OCP showing more detailed land-use. The OCP is very general – but even so – the Guildford-104 Avenue corridor has higher density OCP designation all along it (Multi-Family) compared to Fraser Hwy (Urban).

      Stark difference to Fraser Hwy which currently has no planned density increase and is fringe suburbia. A land-use plan will be needed for Fraser Hwy once a line does eventually go down it. Whether that be a Phase 2 LRT or SkyTrain extension. Ultimately an LRT phase 2 down Fraser Hwy would be more compatible with the scale and character of that corridor. High Density urban growth is to be focused on City Centre / Guildford / Newton. Not Fleetwood, Cloverdale.

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  9. Since the original Expo Line was built, every major transit project in the region since was for the benefit of the region. No one city had a pet project for themselves and everyone benefited. The Surrey LRT vanity project would serve no one but a small segment of Surrey but the region was going to pay for it. That is shortsightedness. The Skytrain heading towards Langley would benefit the everyone along the network. Langley is Phase 3 so it will be a while before it gets there but it will. For now, ending at 164th or 168th is a good start and well worth the money spent.

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    1. What you are talking is exactly the opposite of what is going to happen. A Skytrain extension will benefit Langley mainly, but the LRT will benefit the while region.

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      1. By whole region I mean all of Metro Van and not just Surrey. If Surrey wants a vanity LRT streetcar, let them pay for it. I live in Fraser Heights and I am well acquainted with Surrey. People all along the Skytrain corridor benefit all regions it passes through.

        In Portland, the concessions the city had to make along the LRT route to get any development going cost way more than the actual LRT did. Not smart IMO. Skytrain has proven to be successful everywhere in fostering density. Doug and his team get started in November setting things on the right path. Thank goodness Surrey First was booted.

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  10. Kevin, a “small segment of Surrey”? Are you kidding? Have you seen the amount of high density development happening and in the works for guildford, Newton and Surrey central?? You clearly don’t visit these neighborhoods often. We need the LRT.

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  11. Great article, thank you for posting this important debate. Fully agree that Doug McCallum’s SkyTrain currently has no land-use plans for significant urban density, and is currently of the lowest density and suburban of corridors in Surrey. We need the LRT!

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      1. The study is old plus it doesn’t take ridership forecast, population density alone the proposed line, overhead cost, and many other aspects into consideration. Please do a detail analysis and then we can talk. Stop acting a smart guy when you are not.

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      2. Wow, thank you for the hostility. Very civil of you.

        While I get circumstances have change somewhat since the study was made, the study does factor in the things you mentioned, such as ridership forecast, population density, costs etc. Also, I think most people will attest, there hasn’t be a significant amount of development in places like and Guildford since the study was made to make its conclusions invalid.

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      3. The study does factor in the things you mentioned, such as ridership forecast? The study is based on two line dating back 2010. Now the mayor Mccullam want to scrap the LRT project altogether and build the skytrain extension to Langley only. Therefore, this study is outdated and not valid under the current situation.

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      4. Further more, the skytrain extension would cost approximately 1 billion more to build according to a recent study from Translink. It’s best to bring up-to-date information on the table when you come up with an argument. You can’t compare the Surrey Central in 2010 to the Surrey Central in 2018, that’s just pure stupidity.

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  12. Skytrain to Langley is Phase 3. Skytrain to 168th is very doable with the $1.6B. Evergreen came in under budget at 1.43B. Once phase 3 is funded, it will reach Langley no problem. Fleetwood has been waiting for Skytrain ever since KG station was built and the butt end pointed directly along Fraser Hwy. Translink always intended Skytrain to shoot along Fraser Hwy.

    I regularly drive along 104th ave, by far the busiest 4 lane stretch of road in Surrey from KG east to Hwy #1. LRT would have screwed that up big time reducing it to 2 lanes.

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    1. It makes no sense to prioritize rapid transit to 168th Street in Fleetwood over Guildford and Newton. There is nothing out there.

      Guildford: Already established urban centre / 2nd largest regional shopping centre / existing high rise towers and offices / New Guildford Town Centre-104 Corridor Plan underway for significant density including towers.

      Newton: Larger population and larger more established town centre over Fleetwood. New Newton Town Centre Plan underway for increased density / urbanization.

      Fleetwood: Low density suburban town centre, zero high rises existing or planned, zero regional trip generating destinations, relatively lower density, new Fleetwood Town Centre Plan underway for predominantly townhouses and some 4-6 storey apartments.

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      1. Plans can be changed. A lot of those plans were made assuming transit would shape them a certain way. If the transit priorities change, so can the plans. Nothing has really happened yet.

        Metrotown used to be an industrial yard. Brentwood is transitioning from being a mall and auto dealerships into a high-density neighbourhood. There is no good reason why Fleetwood can’t or shouldn’t be any different.

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      2. True Metrotown and Brentwood were much lower density in the past – but they differ in that they are located in the core of the region on the Burrard Peninsula, and anchored by shopping centres. They are natural places for significant increases in density.

        Fleetwood is a much different context. The Fleetwood Town Centre Plan calls for some increased density in the area, but mostly townhomes, and some 4-6 storey apartments. It’s a lower-tiered town centre, and a transition area to the ALR east of it. Higher density growth is more appropriately directed to City Centre / Guildford / Newton.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think that’s a fair point in terms of geographic significance. Metrotown is near the population centre of the region. However, according to Metro Vancouver, Newton, Guildford and Fleetwood are all supposed to be at the same level as municipal town centres (http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/livable-urban-centres/about-urban-centres/Pages/default.aspx). All of them are also fairly close to ALR land, though Fleetwood is the closest. You could also argue that Fleetwood is between Surrey City Centre and Langley making it a focal point, whereas the next major built up area south of Newton is White Rock (less of a centre than Langley) and Guildford (no real centre further east).

        I’m not saying Fleetwood is above Guildford or Newton, I just don’t think there’s enough of a compelling case to put Guildford and Newton ahead of Fleetwood and for that to justify building the ‘L’ LRT over Skytrain to Langley.

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      4. True, Fleetwood is recognized as a Municipal Town Centre in the RGS. I could see it developing into a more prominent town centre decades from now, but in the near-term, City Centre and Guildford are where significant growth/density will be and should be directed. LRT will be a critical piece in linking these 2 areas via a revitalized / calmed 104 Avenue corridor – transformed into a ‘great street’, prioritized for well-integrated transit, cycling, pedestrians – and lined with shopping, cafes, residences. Eventually City Centre and Guildford will blend into each other along 104 Avenue.

        Guildford differs from Fleetwood as a Municipal Town Centre because of the large regional shopping centre there, and scale of it in comparison – existing towers, offices, etc. Fleetwood feels like a hamlet at the moment.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. While I think this analysis is fairly thorough. It’s missing a few key points. The study Translink on rapid transit options in Surrey showed that Skytrain + BRT would outperform the light rail plan that Surrey First advocated for (https://surreylightrail.ca/Documents/surrey_rapid_transit_study_infographic.pdf). It would cost around the same amount, be faster, bring in more riders and take more people out of their cars. It performs better on virtually every metric.

    Why is that? Contrary to this article, the density of trip generating land uses is higher around Fraser Highway than it is on the L-corridor between Guildford and Newton. Yes there are large gaps of green space, but overall the concentration is higher. Also, much of the development that this article talks about in Surrey hasn’t happened; it is planned to be built in the future when light rail is built. There is no reason why Surrey couldn’t decide tomorrow to ‘plan’ more development along the Fraser Highway in Fleetwood like they planned for Guildford and Newton.

    In the end, light rail may have it’s day between Guildford and Newton, but the studies show that it doesn’t make sense now and should not be considered a priority. Though Skytrain to Langley will require more funds, those funds will produce a greater return in terms of new riders, time savings and emission reductions.

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    1. “it is planned to be built in the future when light rail is built?” “Overall the concentration is higher along Fraser Highway compared to city center?” Please read the news and show me your finding before you talk. The new mayor is going to scrap the LRT project and build the skytrain extension to Langley. There is a big discrepancy which provincial government will not fund and the light rail will not be built. And the document your shown is old plus it doesn’t take ridership forecast, population density alone the proposed line, overhead cost, and many other aspects into consideration. Please do a detail analysis and before you talk. Stop acting a smart guy when you are not.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. What I meant is the new mayor want to scrap the LRT project and build the skytrain extension to Langley instead. So what you said is not even valid. I think the best way before you talk is to read and educate yourself more about the subject. Just my suggestion.

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    3. Where is your study? Apart from that dated document, you are talking out of your imagination. Most of the things you mentioned aren’t even true.

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  14. Just look at half the updates we get on developments from UrbanSurrey.com! It’s anout new density projects in Guildford, Surrey Centre and Newton! Why else would the LRT be going there??

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  15. Surrey mayor-elect Doug McCallum broke his silence with Postmedia News on Sunday and emphatically hammered home the point that light rail will be spiked as soon as the new council first meets Nov. 5.

    It will be replaced, McCallum said, with SkyTrain for the same $1.65-billion price that LRT was estimated to cost, all of which is funded by three levels of government.

    “I think that most of the region, this is what they want,” McCallum said Sunday. Postmedia had previously left messages with the mayor-elect since the municipal elections Oct. 27. Sunday was the first time he replied.

    “A large majority of people in Surrey want SkyTrain,” he said. “Voters wiped out the whole previous council. The new team is solidly with residents who want SkyTrain and not light rail.”

    McCallum beat Surrey First challenger Tom Gill by 17,000 votes, ending a decade-long dynasty for the party in the city. McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition elected seven councillors, while Surrey First elected just one, and she is new to council.

    “I think the reaction to the election in B.C., and to a certain degree nationally, was a bit of a shock,” McCallum said. “But the people of Surrey are in complete agreement they want a change and they showed up at the ballot box.”

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    1. Just because McCallum said it will be built doesn’t mean it will actually happen. He might be successful in canceling the LRT project, but not building the skytrain extension.

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      1. This entire thread and article is a clear example of why local urban planners (especially municipal ones) should never…ever..attempt to solve regional transportation issues…or for this matter use regional transportation money to advance their local interests. I work with planners….the whole LRT project screams ‘land-use/urban planning’ extremely loudly…so loud that actual ‘transportation’ is a foot note. Unfortunately, you dipped into the wrong sack of cash. Maybe the author of this article..i.e the urban planners in Surrey ought to sit down with their transportation planners colleagues and figure out how to develop efficient, user friendly and sustainable multi-modal transportation plans for the 104th and king George corridors to satisfy your BIA and future developers. Do that without diverting regional major project funds that are allocated towards solving regional transportation challenges that factors criteria such as trip generation rates, travel time, greenhouse gases, ridership and safety. Not one regional transportation engineer, or in this case most surrey voters don’t care one tiny itsy little bit about the lovely land use plans you have developed for 104th ave and King George, especially since you didnt consult with us on where our regional tax dollars should be spent. Next time you want to satisfy your urban planning itch, check with your local voter first.

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      2. Ways to spend 1.6 billion:

        A 3-stop SkyTrain extension to the hamlet of Fleetwood where very little growth / density is planned (what will end up happening due to the shortfall in funding to make Langley a reality).

        or

        An 11-stop city transforming LRT system serving your actual urban corridors and 2 largest town centres planned to handle the bulk of future growth in Surrey.

        Transportation and land-use go hand-in-hand.

        Surrey will get what it asked for. A SkyTrain to low-density, 160th & Fraser Hwy – with low ridership and construction start delayed a few more years. The actual busy transit corridors in Surrey between Guildford and Newton will suffer another decade or more with B-line service stuck in traffic. Congratulations!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Your 3 to 4 stops cover 22km. You 11 stops cover 9kms. You are right, they go hand in hand. Unfortunately for you, 1.65 billion is not meant to cover the area with the greatest future growth in surrey. It’s meant to promote regional mobility across the region!!! We shall get the best system we deserve.

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    1. Who is “we”?? By the sounds of it Derrick your definition of “we” doesn’t actually seem that inclusive when you consider which areas of Surrey are actually growing!

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      1. What do you mean by “actually growing”. By surrey’s own projections, guildford + newton are projected to grow at the same rate as cloverdale + fleetwood (2041 projections). (https://www.surrey.ca/business-economic-development/1418.aspx)

        However, while guildford+newton will have a much higher denser population, cloverdale+fleetwood account for far greater trip generation rates than newton+guildford. Thats because pretty much anyone who lives in cloverdale+fleetwood has to drive!! Guildford+newton are already served by B-lines that be can improved at a significant fraction of the cost of skytrain or light rail. In the world of transportation, its comes down to costs vs benefits. LRT is a money loser.

        But going back to your fundamental question of who’s actually growing, i assume this question is based on the ‘proposed’ land-use plans for guildford+newton. I believe someone else on this thread already answered that… relocating that density to fleetwood/clayton is something that surrey urban planners can do, just like they did with newton/guildford (without consultation)

        In any democratic election, ‘we’, in other words the majority of voters, are the ones who elect politicians to serve the greater needs/wants of voters. The majority of surrey wants skytrain, and unfortunately in any election, the needs of the minority are for lack of better words ignored.

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      2. ” relocating that density to fleetwood/clayton is something that surrey urban planners can do, just like they did with newton/guildford (without consultation) ”

        You’re advocating Fleetwood and Clayton have more intensive growth and density than Newton and Guildford? Makes sense.

        FYI:
        Link to the consultation process for the Guildford Town Centre – 104 Corridor Plan:
        http://www.surrey.ca:8082/city-services/24723.aspx

        Stop spreading misinformation or you will be banned from commenting.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. The 96 B-line bus is usually half empty or less except during peak times. I drive past it regularly and it will meet the demand for years to come.
    Derrick is bang on in his comments. Surrey backroom strategists nor Translink properly polled the residents of Surrey regarding their desire for an LRT or not. Doug and his team did and on October 20th, the people answered.

    LRT = political suicide. Just ask Surrey First.

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  18. And if b lines stuck in traffic is such a major problem, take that right-of-way for lrt and convert it into dedicated bus lanes. That won’t cost 1.64 billion.

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  19. @STEPHEN HALLINGHAM, my apologies. What i should have said is that the land-use planning consultation process happened without consulting the greater population of surrey on what their preferred transit option was. In other words, the consultation process was flawed. This is just the truth… no need to be banning people from commenting/voicing out their thoughts (you can be my guest by the way). It can be argued that through this website, you are spreading the type of misinformation that Linda Hepner & Surrey first did for 10 years, while trying to ban others from telling you something you don’t want to hear….which is the kind of behavior that unfortunately led Surrey First to being booted out by voters. I think you are a good at what you do, unfortunately your viewpoints are extremely limited to just that … urban planning.

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      1. The consultation was on land-use plans for guildford + newton, not on transportation options. This is misinformation you’re spreading.

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    1. Transportation planning cannot happen in isolation. It must be done alongside Urban planning by taking a holistic approach in order to shape the identities of our communities by integrating art, culture, sustainability and the environment with walkable and economically thriving neighborhoods. The broad picture was that the LRT would help achieve that vision. Single minded transportation planning is an old school, outdated way of planning for the future. McCallum is from a previous conservative generation who are uncomfortable with doing things more progressively and prefer simply maintaining the status quo. Moreover, the simple fact is the Skytrain will cost exorbitantly more that what he claims. TransLink has repeatedly confirmed this.

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      1. Translink is an incompetent transit planner. They have proven this time and again with their numbers and projections. Hard to trust anything they come up with as far as future projections.

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      2. Hahaha wow Kevin maybe you should apply for a job there and tell them how it’s done. Sounds like you seem to know it all.

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      3. I believe all your comments above are valid. Transportation planning & urban planning do go hand in hand. No one is denying that…and all the power to municipal urban planners working together with their transportation counterparts at the municipal level to advance great land-use plans. Where you are out of your realm (like planets afar) is promoting a inferior street car system because it integrates better with your land use plans for ‘urban corridors’ and completely ignoring the regional mobility challenges south of the Fraser AND the regional money allocated for those purposes. This is so wrong…..c’mon!

        Translink money is not Surrey money. The City of Langley and Township, have a say as well as to what transit options they’d prefer. Surrey only carries 26/128 (20%) of the vote at the Mayors Council that develops regional transit plans. The Township & Langley City have a total of about 7%.. not much but their voices have to be heard as well. Lets be very hypothetical now: The towncentres of guildford+newton (with a current population of 210,000) would have a say of about 7% IF they sat at the Mayors council. The towncentres of fleetwood, cloverdale, city of langley and township (total population of 290,000) would have about 10% say. Lets further include growth projections in the above hypothesis. Guildford + newton project an additional 70,000 people upto 2041. Cloverdale + fleetwood +langley + township project a further 130,000 people upto 2041. Except the latter in addition to having more of a vote, would also help in advancing Translink’s mandate with promoting regional mobility, increasing ridership by a SIGNIFICANT margin (due to higher trip generation rates), reducing travel times, and advancing the regional growth strategy.

        The local planners & the regional planners must have shat their beds the last 10 years. They really fell asleep on the job in pushing for a local second class system. The regional planners dating back to 30 years ago knew what they were doing. The voters of Surrey and Langley said ‘wait a minute, NO, Surrey is not Portland”

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    2. Stop that rudeness bro. According to your post, “Not one regional transportation engineer, or in this case most surrey voters don’t care one tiny itsy little bit about the lovely land use plans you have developed for 104th ave and King George, especially since you didn’t consult with us on where our regional tax dollars should be spent. Next time you want to satisfy your urban planning itch, check with your local voter first.” You were the one who is talking shit and you even try to paint him. The author has every right to ban you. And why would you want him to be your guest? Can I be your guest instead? Different people have different ideas. Do you think you really know better than the experts? I highly doubt it, what STEPHEN said is we should prioritize in developing the Surrey downtown core first before moving further to Langley. There is nothing wrong with that, even the other experts said so. And plan can be changed too. However, I highly doubt the skytrain extension will be built anytime soon. So in the end, it doesn’t matter. We should all just wait and see. https://theprovince.com/news/local-news/experts-weigh-in-on-the-costs-of-skytrain-vs-lrt-in-surrey/wcm/0c8a7601-afea-423a-9d3b-654d2e7c58fd

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well actually, I am a regional engineer who knows better about regional mobility & the business cases that make a WHOLE lot more sense from a regional/transportation planning & lifecycle analysis viewpoint. I’m knowledgeable on all the regional plans and studies completed by Metro Vancouver & Translink. I’m not here to talk shit.. and I do apologize for that. What you’ll see in my tone of messages is the type of frustration that’s pent up in a majority of surrey residents who elected politicians, who then went ahead to work together with their ‘expert urban planners’ in backrooms, then struck deals to advance local interests that don’t quite align with the majority of voters. And unfortunately, the rhetoric in this thread is quite similar to Surrey First’s rhetoric – ‘lets leave it to the expert planners to solve transportation issues’. What both yourself and Stephen promote in terms of urban planning and revitalizing & linking neighborhoods such as Surrey Center, Guildford & Newton is extremely legitimate – however, your execution plan is extremely horrible (sorry, don’t use mine & other’s tax money). Subsequently, democracy did speak out loud.

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      2. Don’t use mine & other’s tax money? lol. Do you know Translink, the mayor council and the governments pay a large sum of the money of the 1.6 billion? How about you guys listen to the rest of the people in greater Vancouver and see what they have to say? BTW, there is nothing wrong in voicing our opinions, this is the freedom of speech as you mention. Please don’t any political party into it as we don’t work for them. I hope you and others won’t be complaining when this project is rejected at the mayor council, by Translink or provincial government in the end because that is a process of democracy too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  20. If the voters of Surrey really wanted the LRT, they would have returned Surrey First to office to follow through with the LRT vision and called Doug M crazy for trying to can the LRT project. Doug only came out of retirement because he was asked to based on what people really wanted. When people found out what the $1.6B was really delivering, they squashed the project at the ballot box. Now the new counsel will follow through with the wishes of the people. That’s how a democracy works. Can’t please everyone.

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  21. @Alex C….what in the world are you talking about? You sound like someone who knows zip about the governance model of translink, the province or even the mayor’s council. Translink revenue comes from my property taxes, my fuel taxes and my parking fees. The province takes a nice portion of my income each paycheque. By the way if you’re talking about the mayor’s council, Langley, langley township and Vancouver are already supportive of Doug’s skytrain plans. Thats already 66 votes of 68 needed for a majority at the mayor’s council. All you need is 2 votes left, some horsetrading for a burnaby or delta or poco to come the table, and then my friend, skytrain is a done deal. The feds are on board, the province will advance the mayor’s council plan. You’ll be really surprised…unpleasantly.

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    1. It’s not all about you though. It sounds like you are putting too much emphasis on yourself. The rest of the people in Vancouver also pay property tax, gas tax and income tax. That’s where the funding comes from, right? Are u paying the whole 1.6 billion of tax all by yourself? Lol.

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      1. Haha…yeah. Again, I don’t know what you talking about. The rest of the people in metro Vancouver are represented at Translink (the regional transit authority) by the mayor’s council. I will agree with you on one thing though…its not about me at all. And I’ll rest my case now… I got a couple billion dollars I need to go and spend before Surrey uses it on LRT 🙂

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      2. The major sticking point for McCallum will be funding.

        TransLink had to appeal to the provincial and federal governments to help fund the $7.3-billion second phase of its 10-year plan, and in the end there was still a $70-million annual funding gap that required increases to fares, parking taxes, gas taxes and property taxes to cover. Although they approved the increases, mayors balked at dipping into property and gas taxes.

        The light rail project is funded to $1.65 billion. Even if that money can be transferred to a SkyTrain line, it falls short of the estimated $2.4 billion to $2.9 billion it will cost to build SkyTrain to Langley.

        “I don’t think there is a mayor in the region that’s going to support putting it onto property taxes,” Brodie said.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. OK, let’s get back to the original transportation plan. Phase 3 was already “advertised” as being LRT along Fraser Hwy to Langley. Even if the 1.6B only goes part of the way to Langley, Phase 3 will take Skytrain the rest of the way. Doug’s plan of going all the way to Langley in Phase 2 might be a stretch so we will see what happens. Skytrain is far superior technology in moving people quickly and efficiently without interrupting drivers. Edmonton is an example of frustrated drivers. No transportation system should mess with cars on the road. Mayor Brodie even agrees that the Canada line was built with the right technology although it was chosen to be built using LRT.

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    1. Yeah. After it is built, we can all go to the flea markets, see horses, visit Cascades Casino, or eat C-Lovers Fish & Chips all you can eat. So it’s all good. 😀

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      1. A little fresh air never hurt the lungs. Horse riding may be nice to calm all the disappointment from a cancelled LRT. On a serious note, not a single person in this thread has talked about how crossing portman and patullo is a nightmare at peak hours. Less people driving long distances and taking transit is a good thing. You could argue that skytrain will serve Surrey centre much better than LRT in terms of turning it into a regional hub between Langley and metrotown, rather than the current dead end that is. Its up to city planners to connect the missing dots. Getting to surrey centre will be much faster and efficient from both the east and west.

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  22. @Alex… LRT is dead man. Just forget it. Stay tuned though… Nov 5 – LRT is cancelled by Surrey… Nov 15 – We’ll get a sense of where the mayors stand after their first meeting.

    Speaking about economic growth, Guildford & Newton corridors look like they do today because developers bought out a bunch of land along these corridors and decided to sit & wait for 10 years because the City promised them LRT. Massive fail all around.

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  23. Pattison has a huge development opening in 2020 at the corner of 156th and 104th ave. That land has been a bush forever. The still unused (former Asian Centre) on 104th ave is owned by a lawyer in California after the original group filed for bankruptcy. He refuses to sell and hasn’t rented it out yet. That blue Supersave fencing has been there for gosh about 20 years now. I doubt the LRT would have changed much on 104th ave. 104th ave is mainly a way to get across Surrey to the Superstore or Guildford mall maybe. Malls are dinosaurs in the age of online shopping. I think I go to the mall once or twice a year. I mostly shop online on US websites or in Bellingham.

    Like

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