Surrey mayoral candidate Doug McCallum wants to halt light-rail projects to Guildford and Newton
He told CBC's Justin McElroy that he prefers building SkyTrain to Langley
Metro Vancouver may never get a street-level light-rail system like the ones in Portland, Calgary, and several other North American cities.
That's because the newest candidate for mayor in Surrey wants to kibosh lines that have already been approved from Surrey Centre to Guildford and Newton.
Doug McCallum told CBC's Justin McElroy that he would prefer to see "fast buses and extended buses" along 104 Avenue and King George Highway rather than trains running at street level.
And he wants SkyTrain built along King George Highway to Langley.
The Surrey First-controlled council has endorsed light rail to Guildford along 104 Avenue and to Newton along King George Highway.
In the 2014 election, McCallum lost the mayoral election to Linda Hepner, who promised that at least one light-rail line would be completed by the time voters went to the polls in 2018.
That line still hasn't been started and Hepner is not seeking reelection.
Meanwhile, the new Proudly Surrey party has promised to try to pull Surrey out of TransLink if it's elected and "focus any new transit development on frequent bus service to all neighbourhoods".
It pledges to base any future rapid-transit decisions on two principles: cost-effectiveness at moving people and effectiveness at combatting climate change.
"We will immediately begin negotiations and prepare a legal case for the BC Supreme Court to pull Surrey out of TransLink and create a local transit system in partnership with TransLink and adjacent cities, one that maintains fare transferability, rapid transit building and maintenance and interurban service," Proudly Surrey states on its website.
Proudly Surrey is running three candidates for council—electrician Adam MacGillivray, peace activist Felix Kongyuy, and university lecturer Stuart Parker—under a slogan popularized by U.K. Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn: "For the Many, Not the Few".
Parker has tweeted that while his party wants Surrey out of TransLInk, his party disagrees with McCallum "on sending $900 million back to the feds and $500m back to the province that's earmarked for LRT".
"We will honour the LRT agreements that have already been funded," Parker declared. "It is crazy to turn down $1.4b."
The federal and provincial governments have the funding in place for the light-rail lines to Guildford and Newton, which are part of TransLink's phase two 10-year transportation plan.
They're estimated to cost $1.65 billion.
A third proposed light rail line from King George Station to Langley has been funded for project engineering and design, but not construction.
The plan includes a sharp increase in bus-service hours across the region.
McCallum, a former mayor and former TransLink chair, told McElroy that the original plans in the 1980s called for the Expo Line to be continued from its last stop in Surrey toward Langley.
The SkyTrain lobby has been fighting the light-rail concept in Surrey for many years.
In the 1990s, Metro Vancouver wanted to build street-level light-rail in a T-line connecting West Broadway with Surrey and Coquitlam.
However, that was kiboshed by the last NDP government, which built the $1.2-billion Millennium Line instead. It added 11 new stations to the system, mostly in Burnaby.
That, in turn, led to the creation of the $1.4-billion Evergreen SkyTrain Line to Coquitlam, which has six stops.
B.C. Liberal and federal Liberal governments decided to fund the $1.9-billion Canada Line to Richmond and Vancouver International Airport ahead of the Evergreen Line. It added 15 new stations to the system and opened shortly before the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler.