Editorial, the Province newspaper, Dec. 17
I f the B.C. government thinks it will score political points with voters south of the Fraser River for its $400,000 Fraser Valley transit report, it should think again. Not only will the study’s results not be ready until long after the May provincial election, but its terms of reference are woefully inadequate as well.
The study aims to examine how best to deploy new buses and, more importantly, to assess the viability of running light rail transit on the existing Inter-Urban rail line, which runs from the north end of Scott Road in Surrey through to Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.
A strengthening public movement covering all communities south of the Fraser prefers the right-of-way be re-established for just that: Modern, high-tech light-rail transit to connect everyone in the region and to link them up with the SkyTrain service in Surrey.
Why then did the B.C. government omit Surrey and Langley from the study’s terms of reference?
Skeptics suggest it wasn’t an oversight.
They contend it’s an intentional move to guarantee that the study will conclude there is insufficient population, ridership or economic justification for the light rail concept in the less densely-populated centres such as Abbotsford and Chilliwack.
Factoring the higher-populated Lower Mainland cities such as Surrey, Langley Township and Langley City into this study would certainly yield a different result — one that might well better serve the needs of a travelling, commuting public.
But Victoria has never been gung-ho on the idea of reviving the Inter-Urban line, a bias that becomes increasingly evident when considering the study’s terms of reference and lack of input from all stakeholders.
It’s worth reminding the election-bound B.C. Liberals that every south-of-Fraser mayor who publicly supported a return of Inter-Urban light rail was elected or re-elected in B.C.’s recent civic elections.
Not that government has ever felt it necessary to heed the wishes of its citizens.
-The Province newspaper