Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Report on the 2008 Budget Consultations

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released a report on November 15th called Report on the 2008 Budget Consultations. The report is a result of public consultations across the province about what the government should be doing with our money. This report has an emphasis on climate change. I suggest that you read the report.

The Interurban line made its way into the report:

Fraser Valley Light Rail

We also received many requests from individuals and advocacy groups in the Fraser Valley for light rail transit services to and from their communities. Many explained that this would not only ease traffic congestion, but it would also support the government initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, there was no clear consensus as to which route would be preferable. Some submissions suggested that the twinned Port Mann Bridge and Highway 1 widening should have a light rail component constructed from the outset; others proposed a commuter rail system using the old interurban rail corridor or an expanded SkyTrain option to service Surrey and Langley.

Some of the comments we heard on this topic are presented below.

For Budget 2008, we propose the government immediately plan rapid implementation of a modern clean-air interurban passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley, connecting South-of-Fraser communities from Chilliwack to Surrey, with a target date for initial service by the end of 2009, and a plan to subsequently extend service over the Fraser River into Vancouver. (Rail for the Valley).

We need now, more than ever, rail-based transportation, bus rapid transit, bicycle-friendly cities and towns, and a growth-management strategy that's consistent with the B.C. government's stated environmental objectives. If the government is sincere in its desire — and I believe it is — then it's going to take a lot more than changing light bulbs. (Fraser Valley Conservancy).

Bearing in mind the message that the government must continue to manage the debt-to-GDP ratio, we strongly urge the government to work closely with local communities, regional and federal governments, and the private sector to expedite the construction of much-needed rapid transit options in Metro Vancouver.

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