Langley-Aldergrove MP Tako van Popta spoke in the House of Commons about the SkyTrain expansion to Langley City, and requested $550M. (Screengrab/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley-Aldergrove MP Tako van Popta spoke in the House of Commons about the SkyTrain expansion to Langley City, and requested $550M. (Screengrab/Special to Langley Advance Times)

$550M federal ask would push SkyTrain expansion to Langley

Langley-Aldergrove MP Tako van Popta advocating for dollars to extend from Fleetwood to Langley City

Langley-Aldergrove’s MP is advocating for millions in federal funding to build the SkyTrain out to Langley – sooner rather than later.

The local Member of Parliament, Tako van Popta, rose in the House of Commons last week to lobby for the SkyTrain extension out to Langley City.

“We need to cut down commuter congestion and make housing more affordable. A SkyTrain to Langley is the key to doing just that,” he said.

In his presentation in Ottawa, van Popta asked for $550 million to immediately extend the current two-phase plan for SkyTrain from downtown Surrey, out to Fleetwood (to about 166th Street), and then immediately out to Langley City.

“Langley and the Lower Mainland have high amounts of traffic congestion, as well as a housing crisis. Extending the SkyTrain to Langley will not only create much needed jobs,” he said. “It will address these issues head on. Will the government commit $550 million needed to make the Fleetwood to Langley extension a reality?”

RELATED: SkyTrain to Langley moves one step closer with business case

The total cost of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain is estimated at about $3.1 billion, with the $1.6 billion phase to Surrey’s Fleetwood neighbourhood already funded.

Last month, during the provincial election campaign, the NDP pledged $1.5 billion towards completing the SkyTrain extension all the way to Langley City. The project –spanning 16 kilometres from King George Station to Langley City – would be complete in a single phase instead of two, Horgan promised.

RELATED: Horgan pledges NDP will complete $1.5 billion SkyTrain extension to Langley

While efforts continue at the municipal, regional, and provincial levels to speed up the completion of this project to Langley, van Popta used his chance to speak in Ottawa as an opportunity to explain the demand and ask for the cash to make it possible.

“The SkyTrain, contrary to other transit systems in North America, has an ever-increasing transit ridership and that is because the focus on transit-oriented development. That brings me to my ask, and that is for federal funding commitment to extend the SkyTrain from the eastern end of it – which is in downtown Surrey, to bring it all the way to downtown Langley. There are federal, provincial, and municipal funding commitments to build the first phase of that to the Fleetwood area of Surrey, but we are looking for another $550 million from the federal government to extend it all the way into Langley,” he said.

In making his case, he also explained the housing affordability crisis in the Lower Mainland.

“Even in this year of COVID, prices have been going steadily up; about nine per cent or 10 per cent price increases in my area. So, rather than trying to reduce demand, which goes completely contrary to what we are trying to do, I would say let’s increase the supply of housing,” van Popta suggested.

“A great way to do that is to extend the SkyTrain into Langley and urge the provincial and municipal governments to continue developing in that area. Hundreds of thousands of people in this area now live an elevator ride and about 400 steps from the nearest SkyTrain station,” van Popta said.

“If you fly into Vancouver on a clear day, you can see exactly where the SkyTrain route is from the cluster of high rises that spring up in close proximity to the SkyTrain station. So, that’s what we’re looking for Mr. Speaker: a commitment of $550 million to complete the project all the way to Langley City.”

In talks with Mike Buda, executive director of the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation, he told van Popta that it was “imprudent for us to put the shovels down at the end of phase one. We need to continue right into phase two. There are economies of scale, there will be savings to be able to do that, and Mr. Speaker, it is required,” van Popta argued.

The Canadian Home Builders Association apparently lauded the MP’s efforts in the house.

“We were pleased to see you [Mr. van Popta] raise the housing affordability crisis yesterday in the House and highlight the opportunity to leverage federal infrastructure investment to help create new and upgraded serviced lands. We know homes build around transit help avoid GHG emissions, reduce commutes, boost productivity, the competitiveness and quality of life in our cities and communities.

van Popta vows to continue advocating for the SkyTrain extension.

.

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