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Surrey’s light rail network could be catalyst for density development

Funding from the provincial and federal government would help build B.C.'s first light rail network

Artistic renderings of the proposed light rail network in the City of Surrey. Photo: Submitted by the City of Surrey
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Reported by Danica Walker

Surrey could become the first city in British Columbia to have a light rail network if provincial funding is approved.

Map the proposed light rail network routes in the City of Surrey. Photo: Submitted by the City of Surrey

According to Paul Lee, the light rail program manager for the City of Surrey, the light rail will help support the city’s growing infrastructure and will provide easy and accessible transport, encouraging development of family units in the city.

“It will be a catalyst for medium density development,” Lee said.

The federal government has already committed to giving 40 per cent of required funds towards a light rail network in Surrey. The provincial government is expected to approve an additional 40 per cent of the funding by the end of the year, according to Lee. Where the last 20 per cent is coming from is yet to be determined, according to Fraser Smith general manager of engineering for the project.

However, some groups are saying that light rail is not the preferable option for the future of Surrey. SkyTrain for Surrey is a group pushing to expand the train and bus routes as an alternative to light rail. Daryl Dela Cruz, campaign chair for SkyTrain for Surrey, said that a light rail network would not meet the needs of Surrey and is not the best use of taxpayer dollars.

Artistic rendering of the proposed light rail network in Surrey. Photo: Submitted by the City of Surrey

“We believe that SkyTrain will help contribute to better outcomes than this proposed light rail transit system,” Dela Cruz said.

Lee understands that there are concerns but said that light rail is successful in other cities.

“It is something a little new to the region and people get a little nervous about it,” Lee said. “It will contribute to the shape and type of communities that we want.”

Smith said if funding gets approved, the construction will begin in 2019 and be completed in 2023.

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