McCal­lum mum while Sur­rey tran­sit

The Miracle - - Front Page -

The head of Sur­rey’s Board of Trade is warn­ing that mayor-elect Doug McCal­lum’s tran­sit plans could hob­ble the city. McCal­lum’s pledge to flip a $1.65-bil­lion Light Rail Tran­sit project on its head in favour of a new idea for Sur­rey’s trans­porta­tion fu­ture would thwart the city’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment goals and mire it in po­lit­i­cal de­lib­er­a­tions, said Anita Hu­ber­man, the board’s CEO. Al­ready on Mon­day, the topic of Sur­rey’s LRT project dom­i­nated ques­tion pe­riod in Vic­to­ria as provin­cial par­ties dug into op­pos­ing sides on the is­sue. “Trans­porta­tion, and LRT in it­self, has al­ways been part of the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy to bring busi­ness here (and) keep busi­ness here,” Hu­ber­man said. “We will be left be­hind again in our city for trans­porta­tion in­vest­ments, and that just sim­ply is not ac­cept­able.” McCal­lum ran on a prom­ise to scrap the at-grade Sur­rey-New­ton-Guild­ford LRT project and in­stead start to build SkyTrain from King Ge­orge Sta­tion to Lan­g­ley “right away.” He also vowed to turf the RCMP in favour of a lo­cal force — an­other idea the board of trade re­jects. Nei­ther McCal­lum nor mem­bers of his govern­ment-to-be replied to in­ter­view re­quests Mon­day. McCal­lum’s cam­paign man­ager said the mayor-elect would be han­dling me­dia calls per­son­ally. Hu­ber­man’s con­cerns about McCal­lum’s prom­ise were twofold: Un­like LRT, SkyTrain can­not be eas­ily ex­panded into other parts of the city. And de­lib­er­at­ing a new ap­proach to tran­sit will eat up time the city can’t af­ford to spend as its pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to swell. In Vic­to­ria, Pre­mier John Hor­gan said McCal­lum will need to take his SkyTrain plan to other may­ors in the re­gion. “Cer­tainly, his first port of call … will be the May­ors’ Coun­cil, not to me, not to the prime min­is­ter. We’ll see how that goes first and fore­most and then we’ll deal with that later,” Hor­gan said. He has pre­vi­ously stated: “We’re not scrap­ping LRT.” An­drew Wilkin­son, the leader of the B.C. Lib­er­als, said dur­ing a lengthy back-and-forth with the pre­mier dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod that McCal­lum’s elec­tion vic­tory showed vot­ers have re­jected the NDP’s LRT tran­sit plan. Hor­gan said: “It is not an NDP plan. It is the may­ors’ 10-year plan for tran­sit in the Lower Main­land.” Other key play­ers have ex­pressed con­cern over McCal­lum’s idea, in­clud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, whose govern­ment is fund­ing nearly a third of the project, and re­gional trans­porta­tion au­thor­ity Tran­sLink, which has funded the re­main­der. Money for the project is not trans­fer­able and a new fund­ing dis­cus­sion would have to take place for a new SkyTrain project, Trudeau said last month. “We are mov­ing for­ward with the Sur­rey LRT re­gard­less of the out­come of the next (mu­nic­i­pal) elec­tion. That money is flow­ing so that peo­ple get the tran­sit they need,” he said then. Con­struc­tion on the 10.5-kilo­me­tre, 11-stop LRT line was slated to start in 2020 with a tar­get com­ple­tion date in 2024. The city had also planned to ex­tend light rail to Lan­g­ley via the Fraser High­way. About $50 mil­lion has al­ready been spent on the project, ac­cord­ing to Tran­sLink. As of last month, Sur­rey had spent $20 mil­lion for pre-con­struc­tion work. McCal­lum’s bid to ditch the RCMP in Sur­rey could face its own set of trou­bles. The con­tract with the RCMP does not end un­til March 2032, and while it can be ter­mi­nated on March 31 of any year, two years no­tice is re­quired. So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral Mike Farn­worth said Sur­rey “is quite free” to de­velop its own po­lice force. “Hav­ing said that, my re­spon­si­bil­ity as so­lic­i­tor gen­eral is to en­sure that there is ef­fec­tive polic­ing in place, and ob­vi­ously if Sur­rey were to move to an­other model they would have to have a de­vel­oped al­ter­na­tive polic­ing plan. So right now, it’s very much up to Sur­rey and how the new mayor and coun­cil de­cide to move for­ward,” he said. McCal­lum’s Safe Sur­rey Coali­tion dom­i­nated Sur­rey’s elec­tion on Satur­day, win­ning seven of eight coun­cil seats in ad­di­tion to that city’s top job.

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