The prime minister has announced $1.3 billion to expand SkyTrain in Surrey all the way to Langley.
The funding is for a 16 km, an eight-stop extension of the existing Expo Line from King George Station in Surrey City Centre to 203 Street in Langley Centre, and preliminary work is expected to start on Tuesday.
“Places south of the Fraser River, like Surrey and Langley, are growing fast and have been for years,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “So with more families choosing this as home, the demand for good, efficient transit has gone up. And that’s why we’re here today, to meet this need and to make communities in the region more connected.”
Speaking outside Surrey City Hall on Friday, Prime Minister Trudeau made the announcement alongside Premier John Horgan, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, Langley City Mayor Val van den Broke, Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese, TransLink Interim CEO Gigi Chen-Kuo, and several provincial and federal ministers.
Prime Minister Trudeau says the project will also create thousands of jobs, however, he did not specify how many would be permanent.
TransLink estimated the total cost of the project to be around $3.1 billion.
The project’s business case was approved by TransLink’s Mayors’ Council in January 2020 on the expectation the provincial and federal governments would confirm funding a few months later and the project would be complete by 2025. However, factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic have delayed the start of construction and it’s unclear when it will be complete.
As Prime Minister Trudeau spoke, a chorus of protesters yelled, chanted, and honked their car horns from the courtyard below the press conference. The word “traitor” was yelled at the prime minister, and at one point the noise was so loud, Prime Minister Trudeau could not hear questions from the media.
Premier Horgan welcomed Friday’s announcement.
“A 16 km extension of the Expo Line in and of itself is extraordinary,” Premier Horgan said. “But what we’re going to be able to do and what the mayors assembled here today will be able to do in their communities is not chase growth, but help shape growth. And that’s the transformative part about this announcement today.”
Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Horgan also stressed the project’s ability to encourage people to take transit to get around the Lower Mainland, rather than drive.
“I don’t have to tell people in B.C. how important it is to continue accelerating our fight against climate change,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. “Extreme weather and wildfires are only a few examples of the devastating consequences we’ve seen recently. Development of public transit will put us squarely on a path to net-zero by 2050.”
Metro Vancouver has set a goal of reducing levels of greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 by 45 percent by 2030.
Surrey mayor delighted with the announcement
Friday’s announcement has been a long time coming for Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. A long-time SkyTrain advocate, McCallum is the man responsible for cancelling the proposed Surrey Newton-Guildford LRT project.
“It’s a great, great time, yes, for Surrey,” he said giving a triumphant cheer and raising his fist to the sky in joy as he spoke. “A promise made, a promise kept by all three levels of government. It’s been a long time coming, but Surrey’s turn in for a new rapid transit has arrived.”
Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek smiled as she thanked the federal government for the funding.
“I’m so excited, I can’t help myself,” she said. “The SLS (Surrey-Langley SkyTrain), which I love to call it, extension is a sustainable and environmentally friendly investment that will improve public health outcomes, including associated reductions in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Since most transit trips involve walking or cycling at the start, and the end of the journey.”
Prime Minister Trudeau also committed to funding up to 40 percent of the proposed extension of the Millennium Line from Arbutus Street to UBC in Vancouver.
The federal government is funding 66 percent of the Broadway Subway project. Major construction on the 5.7-km-long Broadway Extension began last month and is expected to open in 2025.
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