Sur­rey Board of Trade Mem­bers Sup­port LRT for Sur­rey

The Miracle - - Opinion - By: Anita Hu­ber­man CEO Sur­rey Board of Trade Dear Mayor Cor­ri­gan, Chair, May­ors’ Coun­cil Tran­sLink

I am writ­ing in sup­port of Sur­rey’s Light Rail Tran­sit Project. In fact, the Sur­rey Board of Trade would like to see all 27km of the pro­posed light rail to be built as soon as is fea­si­ble. In our most re­cent Sur­rey Road Sur­vey over 80% sup­port to strongly sup­port the build­ing of the “City Cen­treGuild­ford-New­ton” and over 85% sup­port LRT along Fraser High­way through to Lan­g­ley City. Sur­rey is grow­ing rapidly, and as it grows, the op­por­tu­nity ex­ists to shape it into a world-class des­ti­na­tion in its own right. With nearly 1000 new res­i­dents com­ing monthly, the need for a vi­sion has never been more nec­es­sary. The LRT pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to con­sider how to man­age the growth, where to den­sify, how to move peo­ple, and how to cre­ate com­mer­cial space while achiev­ing an at­trac­tive streetscape. Busi­nesses are on board with cre­at­ing an eco­nom­i­cally vi­able city that

is at­trac­tive to clients, cus­tomers, and em­ploy­ees alike. LRT sparks de­vel­op­ment along its cor­ri­dors, a mid-rise, medium den­sity, mixed use type of de­vel­op­ment that will at­tract both fam­i­lies and busi­ness to the area while also main­tain­ing af­ford­abil­ity. We have done our due dili­gence and read through all avail­able re­ports. We have had round­tables and panel di­a­logues. We have had all of our ad­vo­cacy team mem­bers re­view ma­te­rial and pro­vide feed­back (12 teams with over 400 vol­un­teers). We’ve re­viewed the num­ber of tech­nol­ogy and route al­ter­na­tives that were ex­am­ined us­ing mul­ti­ple met­rics to eval­u­ate their ef­fec­tive­ness. The Sur­rey Board of Trade has taken the po­si­tion that the project should be com­pleted in one phase to cap­i­tal­ize on lower con­struc­tion costs and LRT fleet ve­hi­cles, and the sim­ple fact that wait­ing for phase 2 will un­nec­es­sar­ily de­lay needed tran­sit through Sur­rey. We are con­cerned that those who op­pose LRT in favour of in­creased buses and a sky­train down Fraser High­way are not fully con­sid­er­ing what they are say­ing no to, or con­versely what they would be say­ing yes to, if they in fact suc­ceed to in­flu­ence de­ci­sion-mak­ers. Three things we know will oc­cur if there is no sup­port for LRT: • In­creas­ing B-line buses will very quickly in­crease con­ges­tion on those routes as the more and more would be re­quired to move com­muters, but they would still not be suf­fi­cient to meet an­tic­i­pated fu­ture pop­u­la­tion growth as quickly as the

LRT on its ded­i­cated lanes — and within 10-15 years would need to be re­placed with LRT to meet the de­mand • The cost of a sky­train sys­tem along the Fraser High­way will be up to 4 times more than the com­bined 27km of LRT, some­thing our grand­chil­dren will still be pay­ing for and it would in­hibit any fur­ther tran­sit in­fras­truc­ture • The abil­ity to quickly adapt to grow­ing town cen­tres and ex­pand the sys­tem through the large Sur­rey ge­og­ra­phy will be se­verely com­pro­mised by putting all avail­able and fu­ture fund­ing into one op­tion We have ob­served that where the sky­train has gone, it en­cour­ages de­vel­op­ment only around the sta­tion, not along the line. The sta­tions are rel­a­tively far apart and the abil­ity for riders to view com­mer­cial op­tions is min­i­mized. The pur­pose would be to move peo­ple from one far dis­tant point into the City of Van­cou­ver Hub. As it turns out, this is not nec­es­sary. Over 70% of our sur­vey re­spon­dents like to work and live South of the Fraser; and LRT en­cour­ages that liv­abil­ity by also pro­mot­ing af­ford­able hous­ing strate­gies along ex­ist­ing cor­ri­dors. Although the Pat­tullo Bridge and other cross­ings need to be im­proved to ac­com­mo­date com­muters, more are stay­ing South of the river. Over 50% live and work in Sur­rey, un­changed from 2016, and an ad­di­tional 24% com­mute into Sur­rey for em­ploy­ment. Our busi­nesses and our res­i­dents de­serve a sys­tem that en­cour­ages growth along the cor­ri­dors, the cre-

ation of liv­able streetscapes, and the flex­i­bil­ity to add stops as re­quired with the min­i­mum of cost and dis­rup­tion in the fu­ture — as well as ex­tend­ing the lines to loop through the city as it ought to be. We need a sys­tem that moves peo­ple around Sur­rey and South Fraser, with links to cross the river where ap­pro­pri­ate to min­i­mize con­ges­tion on river cross­ings. With over 400 LRT sys­tems world­wide, we know that this is a sys­tem that has proved it­self many times over. We an­tic­i­pate Tran­sLink to re­lease its busi­ness case very soon, so that all can like­wise be as­sured of the value of the LRT and not rely on out-dated doc­u­ments to put for­ward er­ro­neous po­si­tions in the me­dia. We have de­ter­mined that Sur­rey is the des­ti­na­tion, not a thor­ough­fare to some­where else. The de­mand for more tran­sit in­creases an­nu­ally, as re­flected on our own sur­veys. Sur­rey is be­com­ing the hub of the south Fraser Re­gion. Busi­nesses are mov­ing here. Peo­ple are mov­ing here. It makes no sense to build a sys­tem that by-passes the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop and grow a city of our choos­ing to meet our own vi­sion. With­out doubt, the LRT is the best sys­tem, dol­lar for dol­lar, for Sur­rey and South of Fraser. The Greater Lan­g­ley Cham­ber of Com­merce has also in­di­cated their sup­port of the Light Rail Tran­sit trans­porta­tion sys­tem, which in­cludes the Fraser High­way line. If you have any ques­tions or re­quire fur­ther com­ment, please do not hes­i­tate to con­tact me at anita@busi­nessin­sur­rey.com or 604-581-7130.

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