Falcon concerned about referendum delay for transit

Ex-transportation minister backs TransLink expansion

Former B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon spoke Wednesday in Surrey to a joint meeting of the Surrey Board of Trade and Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association.

Former B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon made a strong appeal for rapid transit expansion at a business luncheon Wednesday in Surrey and hinted at discomfort with Premier Christy Clark’s decision to submit new TransLink taxes to a referendum.

The former deputy premier, who is now executive vice-president of real estate firm Anthem Capital, repeatedly underscored the importance of new transit lines, crediting them for the “phenomenal” growth of private sector investment along the SkyTrain and Canada Line systems.

“My preferred approach has always been to just build things,” Falcon told the joint meeting of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association and Surrey Board of Trade.

Falcon said he would not disclose all of his thoughts about the transit funding referendum because he did not wish to create controversy.

“I don’t like the fact that so much time has to pass under a referendum scenario when we could actually be moving projects forward and getting them done,” Falcon said.

“I am very hopeful that, however it happens, senior governments make the dollars available and TransLink is able to get that done.”

He said Anthem is part of a billion-dollar five-tower development at Metrotown to build 1,850 condos over 450,000 square feet of commercial space, adding such projects would never happen without the impetus of SkyTrain.

Falcon also fired a shot across the bow of Surrey’s municipal election contenders, advising them not to be too fixated on their choice of light rail technology.

All three main mayoral candidates and slates back the ground-level light rail system championed by retiring Mayor Dianne Watts over an elevated SkyTrain system.

Falcon said it’s more important that new transit lines are built than what type they are and that it’s crucial to get a strong business case to secure not just provincial but also federal funding.

“Be a little careful not to be too determinative as to what form it should take,” he said.

There were strong calls to instead use light rail on both the Canada Line and Evergreen Line, he said, but noted the Canada Line’s success is indisputable with more than 120,000 riders carried a day.

Falcon is best known for pushing through billions of dollars in road and bridge infrastructure projects in B.C., including the new Port Mann Bridge and South Fraser Perimeter Road.

He also served as finance minister and health minister before his failed run for the BC Liberal leadership after Premier Gordon Campbell stepped down.

Falcon also offered some other advice to cities.

He suggested they adopt “core review” principles used by the BC Liberal government early in its mandate to determine what municipal functions could be performed better in other ways, possibly by the private sector.

He noted the transportation ministry once had more than 5,000 direct employees, a number that had fallen to 1,200 when he left as minister.

He was also critical of long waits of three to five months for permits for even basic commercial renovations.

Permitting at city halls shouldn’t just be geared to policing the bad apples of the construction world, Falcon said, urging cities to consider a system that rewards best practices.

“Why can’t we think about having a Nexus lane for people who’ve demonstrated that high degree of quality within our communities?” he asked. “Make sure they are getting through quickly so there’s an incentive to do things right.”

Just Posted

Junior Team Canada brings home gold to the Lower Mainland, again

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

Surrey-Langley curlers in the running again for gold

Junior men’s team out of Langley hopes to defend its world title Sunday, going up against Switzerland

VIDEO: Giants earn 40th victory in a 4-0 triumph over Victoria

Vancouver G-Men move within a point of clinching the B.C. division banner at Friday’s at-home game

Developers to unveil plan to transform Aldergrove mall into new town centre

Community to find out new Aldergrove Town Centre plan for dormant 10-acre lot in heart of downtown.

Man sentenced for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

Most Read