Yup, that’s what I said at a Surrey Board of Trade Forum last week.  Here’s the coverage from Novae Res Urbis:


Vancouver should strongly support Surrey’s plans for light rapid transit even if its own Broadway subway line is delayed, a forum on Surrey’s transportation future was told last week. Former B.C. premier and Vancouver mayor Mike Harcourt and Gordon Price, director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program, both said they agreed Surrey should be at the top of the priority list for transit projects. …

Price said to applause from the Surrey Board of Trade audience: “Surrey should go fi rst. It deserves the next dollar. “When you’re talking about the fastest-growing region, where the future is, you have this window.” Price said the Broadway subway is unlikely to get the funding soon, although that needs to be addressed. “So Vancouver should get behind Surrey and say ‘We’re here for you.’ And then let’s get in with it. Let’s build that system.”

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said Surrey is expected to add another 30,000 residents over 30 years, making it the most populous city in B.C. … “If we were to upgrade all of our roads, to capacity, it will satisfy 12 per cent of that demand,” she said. “You know where that leads to — into gridlock.” …

She said light rail has been chosen over SkyTrain technology because it’s a “simple dollar and cents issue” that will allow Surrey to service more communities with more frequent stops, which will attract more retail and service uses, with 41 million square feet of redevelopment capacity around the stations. Hepner said the provincial government has committed to pay for one third of the project’s cost and that all three major federal parties have promised funding. “But the regional funding remains elusive,” she said. “I expect that will take some form of mobility pricing. How we work that out and how we develop that funding model is going to take time and certainly the collaboration of mayors and the province is going to be necessary for that.”

Harcourt said he thinks congestion charging is a good idea. Price said mobility pricing is a tax “on something that we have previously taken for granted” as something that was free, and the issue would require exceptional leadership.

Both Harcourt and Price said there should be no more plebiscites or referenda on transportation funding. “If the premier will not clarify there won’t be another referendum, that’s the end of regional planning for the foreseeable future,” Price said. “How can you plan with any success of implementation if you know you’ve got to go to a referendum. “If we believe in this place, if we believe in that vision, we want our leadership to make some tough choices and that referendum has to be off the table.

Harcourt agreed: “I think you’re elected to lead and you don’t have referendums and plebiscites to fi nd out if transportation infrastructure should go ahead. I don’t ever want to see that happen again. That was a big, bad mistake.” …


UPDATE: Just heard from a Victoria reporter that Peter Fassbender has confirmed that there will have to be another referendum for any new funding source.  This would, of course, be disastrous for the region, but apparently even the MLAs and cabinet ministers who represent us don’t understand or don’t really care.  But would they allow the vehicle levy, already in the TransLink legslation, to proceed if the Mayors Council voted for it?