Surrey Board of Trade wants more than a ‘Yes’ vote in Transit Plebiscite

Anita Huberman Photo by Chandra Bodalia
Anita Huberman
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

THE Surrey Board of Trade strongly supports a ‘Yes’ vote for the Transit Plebiscite. The decision for support was made at the January board meeting, as improvements within the Mayors’ plan will benefit Surrey’s businesses and residents. The Surrey Board of Trade is a supporter of the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition and has long led the charge for Light Rail for Surrey.

“The infrastructure projects planned for Surrey such as Light Rail, the Pattullo Bridge, and road improvements are urgently needed for our rapidly growing population – at about 1,500 a month now. This ballot is a major opportunity for Surrey to finally receive desperately needed investment in Surrey’s transportation infrastructure. With today’s economy, the Metro Vancouver Congestion tax, through the PST, is the most cost-effective way,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “We strongly encourage the public, this one time, to vote for a large scale transportation infrastructure project that will ease congestion, improve the movements of goods and people, and to ease consumers’ abilities to reach Surrey’s businesses.

“Transportation improvements are major economic development drivers. When businesses relocate or are thinking to starting in Surrey, they look at transit and transportation corridors. Currently, our ability to attract businesses is compromised. Further, benefits of improved transportation and transit opportunities will assist residents travelling throughout Surrey. Students can access education and employment. Seniors can access health facilities. Those with low income will not need the expense of a car if they can access employment and services through better transit.”

The Surrey Yes Campaign will be launched on February 11 at 11 a.m. at Surrey City Hall. The Surrey Board of Trade encourages members of the business and industry community to attend.

The Surrey Board of Trade wants more:

  1. A phase 2 plan for Light Rail to extend to Cloverdale and South Surrey. B-Line buses will not be sufficient in years to come with the expected population growth. Therefore all of Surrey’s centres will need to be considered. The Surrey Board of Trade will advocate for private sector funding options and alternatives to support expanding current plans.
  2. The Pattullo Bridge should not be tolled
  3. Assurances are needed to have the proposed tax be fully integrated with current PST collection systems to reduce/minimize impact on businesses. Our economy must remain competitive.
  4. The Premier and her ministers responsible for Translink and provincial transportation decisions and legislation, need to commit doing everything they can to secure a ‘Yes’ vote this spring.
  5. In future, such decisions should not be put to a referendum. Politicians are elected to make the hard decisions and demonstrate leadership for future planning.
  6. The provincial government needs to review the legislation that created Translink, the governance and financial structure of Translink, and make necessary changes/improvements as soon as possible to increase public trust.
  7. The provincial and federal governments need to formally pledge their commitment for their anticipated contributions of $3 billion over the next decade.

The Surrey Board of Trade, along with other area business organizations, will actively support the Surrey ‘Yes’ campaign to businesses, multicultural organizations, seniors, persons with disabilities – all who are business consumers. The Surrey Board of trade will be hosting several educational and high profile events in Surrey in collaboration with our partners. The purpose is to highlight and clarify what exactly Surrey will get in the Mayors’ plan.

The Surrey Board of Trade will be hosting several educational and high profile events in Surrey, collaboratively with their partners, to educate in the short time frame available on what improvements will come, especially to Surrey. Clarity and understanding on details about revenue sources and how much of the $7.5-billion price tag for the mayors’ transportation plan a regional congestion tax will cover. A number of factors may come into play such as an increase in the cost of construction materials. How will this be handled? The Surrey Board of Trade, and its board directors, will hold accountable the ability of governments and public agencies to efficiently spend their money and ensure that Surrey is a priority over the next decade.

The question, approved by the provincial government, will ask voters in Metro Vancouver “Do you support a new 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax, to be dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan?” If passed, the tax would fund light-rail lines in Surrey, a new Pattullo Bridge, an extension of the Millennium Line, and general improvements to Metro Vancouver’s roads and transit infrastructures.