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 theΒ 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:

Transforming Surrey with LRT – City Releases New Video

The City of Surrey has released a new video on their YouTube Channel promoting the upcoming Guildford-Newton LRT line. The line, which is expected to begin construction as early as next year, and be complete by 2023, is being used as a catalyst to transform Surrey, rather than simply move people from A-B.

Drawing from precedent in many European cities, street-level LRT has the ability to transform streetscapes and the public realm into more pedestrian-oriented, attractive places that attract businesses, gathering, and higher density housing. Compared to SkyTrain which cuts through communities disconnected from street-level, on obtrusive concrete guideways, LRT helps build communities along its route, becoming a part of those communities.

Vision for 104 Avenue – To be repurposed from an auto-oriented corridor to a multi-modal, pedestrian and transit oriented corridor.
LRT along a pedestrianized City Parkway at Central Avenue (103 Ave)
In Surrey City Centre, Newton Town Centre, and Guildford Town Centre, the LRT line will be integrated into pedestrian-only plazas, much like you would find in Europe. Along the line, 104th Avenue and King George Hwy will be transformed into multi-modal streets, instead of the 20th-century era car-oriented streets they are today. 104th Avenue and King George Boulevard will become attractive, focal streets, complete with LRT, vehicle lanes, grade-separated bike lanes, and improved sidewalks. Land-use along them will gradually develop into a continuous stretch of mixed-use mid-rise buildings set close to the street, with ground floor retail, and offices, residences above.

LRT will also add a new tier of transit to Metro Vancouver’s transit system that is currently missing, and would be appropriate for many other parts of the region as a compliment to the existing SkyTrain system which serves as more of a regional commuter rail service. LRT is best suited for servicing more localized areas, where bus service is inadequate, while connecting to the regional rail network.

Vision for a European-Style Plaza with LRT at Newton Town Centre
LRT along a pedestrianized City Parkway at Surrey Central Station
Proposed LRT Routing at 102 Avenue & King George Blvd
Proposed LRT routing along King George Blvd between 100 Ave & 102 Ave
Proposed LRT routing at 96th Ave & King George Blvd
For more on the Guildford-Newton LRT line:

Hawthorn Park to see Improvements and Grow in Size as part of 105 Ave Connector Project

Google Earth view of Hawthorn Park looking north from 104 Ave

On Monday, Surrey Council authorized staff to move forward with an Alternative Approval Process to remove a 1979 bylaw reserving a portion of lands in Hawthorne Park for park purposes. The bylaw, which applies to 6 properties (shown on the map below), currently preserves the properties for park purposes. City Staff want to construct a new portion of 105 Avenue through the properties as part of an east-west connector road project which has been planned since the 1980’s. An ‘Alternative Approval Process’ will now move forward involving the public, with aim to remove the 1979 Bylaw and allow for the road’s construction.

Properties affected by the 1979 Bylaw preserving lands for parkland

While some have expressed discontent with the proposed plan, fuelled by misinformation from mainstream media outletsΒ the proposed plan will actually bring many improvements to the park including a net increase in total size and number of trees. Under the original 1987 OCP plan for 105 St through the park, the alignment was to cut straight across the park east-west. As part of the current design process, the proposed road has been re-aligned to cut further south to have the least environmental impact to the park, and preserve a pair of environmentally sensitive ponds within the park. In total the improvements include:

  • Careful alignment of the proposed 105 St to minimize environmental impacts.
  • The proposed roadway will be a narrow, 2-lane cross section through the park with no on-street parking to minimize impacts.
  • 3 properties along 108 Avenue are proposed to be added to the park to make up for parkland lost by road construction. This will result in a net increase of 1 acre of parkland from what exists today (4 acres of park removed for the road, 5 acres of park to be added in exchange)
  • 200 additional trees from what exists today will be added to the park.
  • Addition of new bike lanes and sidewalks on 105 St improving accessibility to the park.
  • A previous proposed connection to 142 St has been removed from the current proposal to preserve more trees and parkland.
  • A new salmon rearing habitat to be added north of 105 St within the park.
  • Relocation of the existing Hawthorne Park parking lot and access roadway to a more efficient location, allowing for more green space within the park.
  • New walking trails to be established through the park.
Proposed alignment of 105 St and Park Improvements

While the plan for the 105 St connector through the park has been in place since 1987, the 1979 bylaw has prohibited the road from actually being constructed. While well intended at the time, the bylaw has since become outdated, put in place nearly 4 decades ago when Surrey was much less developed. In the current context of a rapidly growing city, the 105 St connector is an important piece of infrastructure needed to meet current and future transportation needs, as well as servicing demands within Surrey. The connector will also provide an alternative route to 104 Street, which is designated to become a transit-prioritized and oriented corridor in the near-future with the addition of LRT. The minimal loss of 4 acres of parkland within the 57 acre park (which will then be recuperated through the addition of 5 new acres of parkland) is a negligible price to pay for the greater community good of improved connectivity, accessibility, and overall improvements to the park.Β 

For more on the proposed bylaw removal and 105 Ave connector project: