Last night, Surrey City Council approved a contribution measure of $24.5 million to help fund the Surrey Newton-Guildford Light Rail Transit (SNG LRT) project.
This is, of course, a drop in the bucket of the total estimated $1.65-billion project for the 10.5-km-long, 11-station, street-level train system running on 104 Avenue and King George Boulevard between Guildford Town Centre and Newton Exchange.
As well, much of the contribution is cashless value in-kind through the provision of the use of city-owned lands needed to build the system.
This includes supplying the city-owned lands in Newton Town Centre to allow for the realignment of 137 Street and a city property on 144 Street for the use as the site of an LRT power substation.
The municipal government is also committing to the acquisition of lands along Central Avenue to build a new street between City Park Way and King George Boulevard.
Property-related costs total over $22.3 million while road construction on Central Avenue will cost $1 million and other direct municipal costs are pegged at $1.2 million.
Municipal governments have played a financial role for the region’s previous rail rapid transit projects, but those instances related solely to building additional stations.
The City of Vancouver provided a cash contribution of $29 million to construct the Canada Line’s Olympic Village Station to serve the growing density in the Southeast False Creek area.
And the City of Coquitlam partnered with the federal government and the owner of Coquitlam Centre to provide the $21 million needed to build the Millennium Line’s Evergreen Extension’s Lincoln Station – an extra station that directly serves the shopping mall and emerging neighbourhood.
In addition to the contribution, Surrey City Council also signed off on its Supportive Policies Agreement (SPA) for the project, which includes providing “certainty of intent from the city and TransLink by committing both parties to work towards achieving land use and transportation objectives” and acknowledging “SNG LRT as a catalyst to meet multiple objectives in regional and local plans, including transportation demand management and increasing affordable housing supply.”
All the while, efforts to oppose LRT have recently increased and become more vocal, with the SkyTrain For Surrey advocacy group recently staging protests against the project.
“The fundamental flaws of Surrey’s LRT vision still remain. Street-oriented light rail will not deliver on important objectives of increased transit use, increased transit reliability, and reduced travel time on transit – that was the case when the vision was presented, and continues to be the reality we will face with LRT,” Daryl Dela Cruz with the SkyTrain For Surrey told Daily Hive.
“There is no basis to continue investing in the Surrey-Newton-Guildford Light Rail project, and we encourage residents and community groups to use any and every opportunity to hold their decision-makers accountable.”