Rendering shows possible look of SkyTrain station along Fraser Highway. (File photo)

Langley chamber of commerce upset about lack of funding for SkyTrain

An uncertain future for the extension to Langley is due to the budget

Langley’s two proposed SkyTrain stations will have to wait until funding can be found to extend the project beyond Surrey’s 166th Street, TransLink reported Friday.

A major update on the progress towards a Langley-Surrey SkyTrain link included an updated budget of $3.12 billion for the entire extension, plus a list of the proposed SkyTrain stations.

The 16 kilometre route from the King George station in Surrey would include eight new stops. Six would be in Surrey, including 184th and 190th Street, while the Langley stops would be at 196th Street – near the Willowbrook Shopping Centre – and at 203rd Street in downtown Langley City, near Gabby’s Country Cabaret and a short walk from the one-way section of Fraser Highway.

Unfortunately, the report also laid out the fact that there is not enough funding to build the whole route within the current $1.6 billion budget.

That amount of money would allow the route to be built to Fleetwood, with a terminus at 166th Street. That stretch of the line could be open and running by 2025, said Jeff Busby, Surrey-Langley SkyTrain director.

The lack of funds to finish the line in the current funding isn’t a surprise, said Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek.

It just makes the “Cure the Congestion Campaign” more important, she said. Local mayors are encouraging people to pressure all federal parties to commit to regular transit funding for Metro Vancouver in the run-up to the October election.

Van den Broek wants to see construction start soon.

“We need to do it sooner rather than later, because if we do it later, it will cost even more,” she said.

READ MORE: TransLink estimates the entire Surrey-Langley SkyTrain route would cost $3.12 billion

Langley’s biggest local business organization was not happy with the possibility of delay while funding issues are sorted out.

“South of the Fraser have been waiting so long for transit and transportation investments,” said Colleen Clark, CEO of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce. “We had an unprecedented approved transit plan – and today’s announcement denotes that the SkyTrain line will only go to 166th Street within the approved funding envelope. This means no SkyTrain to Langley for several years to come.”

The Chamber will work with TransLink and the Mayors’ Council to push for both transit and highway improvements, and the group plans to push the federal government for stable funding.

“The Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce is part of the ‘Cure Congestion’ advocacy that articulates with the upcoming federal election that we need permanent, predictable funding for public transit so we can cure congestion and keep Metro Vancouver moving,” Clark said.

Langley’s mayors, Val van den Broek in the City and Jack Froese in the Township, have both supported the extension of SkyTrain to Langley.

Meanwhile, the South Fraser Community Rail Society sent out a press release last week asking mayors to vote no to the SkyTrain project.

Former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm alleged the project will have a negative impact on agriculture in the Serpentine Flats land between Fleetwood and Clayton.

South Fraser Community Rail has been pushing instead for a revival of the old Interurban rail line that once ran from New Westminster as far as Chilliwack, passing through Langley and Surrey.

TransLink released a report earlier this summer saying the Interurban has “less attractive travel times between key destinations” because of a less direct route.

READ MORE: Service on Interurban rail would be expensive, miss key destinations: TransLink

– with files from the Surrey Now Leader

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