Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart was the first to speak up in support of a proposal to begin the process of building and funding a SkyTrain from Surrey to Langley when it came to the table of TransLink’s mayor’s council yesterday.
On Nov. 5, Surrey city council unanimously passed a resolution to suspend work on light rail transit (LRT) and immediately start planning to build a SkyTrain. The TransLink board followed suit the next day by voting to suspend all work and spending on the LRT.
At the inaugural meeting of the TransLink mayor’s council on Nov. 15, TransLink staff proposed a resolution to reconsider the proposed LRT, redirect the funding to a SkyTrain and “refresh” the overall transit plan for the South of Fraser region.
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie was bitterly opposed to this resolution, arguing that prior investment in and planning for the LRT should not be abandoned in favour of a SkyTrain.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, in a lengthy speech, argued that the citizens of Surrey have been unequivocal in their opposition to the LRT.
Anita Huberman, a representative from the Surrey board of trade spoke as a delegate at the meeting. She told the mayor’s council that the election of Doug McCallum and his slate of councillors was not a “referendum on the LRT” and that there are citizens and business owners who will be negatively affected if it is abandoned.
Stewart says democracy demands change of plans
Stewart spoke firmly in favour of the resolution. He said that one of the key principles of a democracy is that governments are “guided but not bound by past decisions.”
Stewart said that the new mayor’s council is beholden to the wishes of citizens in their respective municipalities, not the decisions of the previous council.
“The people of Surrey have spoken, and that voice is being heard through Mayor McCallum and council,” he said.
Stewart also said that while on council he plans to take his cues from municipal mayor’s and to follow their lead when they come to council and argue that their communities are “adamantly in favour of something.”
The motion to proceed with planning for and funding a Skytrain passed.