Just days after Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition was swept into power in Surrey City Council, there appears to be some early momentum with cancelling the Surrey Newton-Guildford (SNG) LRT project in favour of a SkyTrain extension along the Fraser Highway, as promised by the party.
This is a path that Justin Trudeau’s federal government will support and fund, according to federal Liberal MP Ken Hardie, who represents Surrey’s Fleetwood-Port Kells riding.
Hardie told Daily Hive the federal government’s answer is “yes,” as the allocated federal funding can be switched from LRT to SkyTrain.
But he says it is up to the municipal and provincial levels to make the first moves.
This is dependent on TransLink and its Mayors’ Council changing its 10-year plan, which currently specifies the SNG LRT. Changes to this plan would also need to be supported by the provincial government before the federal government will consider the request.
“If there’s to be a change in the technology and the route, Surrey will need to discuss these changes to the plan with Metro Vancouver,” said Hardie.
“Any new plan that emerges would then need the support of the provincial government in order for a new ‘ask’ to the federal government for the funding. The federal dollars committed would not go away; we would need for there to be an agreed-to plan in British Columbia. The federal government usually leaves details like routes and technologies to the provinces and regions.”
Supporters of the existing LRT plans for Surrey previously argued that federal funding could not be transferred to another project, but this is no longer the case.
However, additional federal government and provincial government funding – on top of the already promised amounts – for the higher construction cost of SkyTrain is subject to renegotiation, which could happen just before next year’s Fall 2019 federal election. At the moment, the federal government has committed $483.8 million towards the $1.65-billion SNG LRT, with the remainder covered by TransLink.
Yesterday, Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart said he will support McCallum’s efforts on having the Mayors’ Council cancel the SNG LRT and advancing SkyTrain on the Fraser Highway.
The inaugural Surrey City Council meeting is scheduled for November 5, and the first Mayors’ Council meeting with its new mayoral members is slated for November 15.
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