Thursday, November 13, 2008

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I refer to your Brian Lewis column dated November 13, 2008 regarding candidate endorsements by Rail for the Valley. While Rail for the Valley has been actively advocating for light rail transit (LRT) in Chilliwack and Abbotsford, they have not closely followed the Langleys or Surrey councils and motions approved this year.

As a sustainable transportation advocacy group, South Fraser OnTrax remains open to LRT proposals that make practical sense for our regional transit needs. As a non-profit society, we respect our public officials and have greatly valued their input. We are not an elector organization and as such, we have refrained from endorsing candidates.

In attended every council meeting and all public hearings in the Township of Langley, we feel we must set the record straight. The voting record of current Township mayor and council has not been fully examined and we question the endorsement list. This voting record clearly shows Mayor Kurt Alberts remains a strong advocate of improved transit and LRT options south of the Fraser. Councillor Jordan Bateman has supported light rail transit for many years now. His recent motion asked for action on next steps outlined in the UMA Consulting report on the Interurban. Township council also approved other pro-LRT motions in 2008. Another such vote was for a Councillor Charlie Fox motion for the Township to urge the federal government to replace the old New Westminster rail bridge, as a new bridge would make passenger rail technically possible. Abbotsford City Councillor Dave Loewen was actively involved in the committee there. Mayor Diane Watts and many incumbent councillors in Surrey endorsed light rail over SkyTrain, yet they were excluded from endorsement. Even often-criticized BC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon said yesterday that he is not ruling out LRT in the region now, as long as the homework is done.

Future 200th Street densification and the new Golden Ears Bridge present a common sense north-south LRT need to ease traffic congestion in Langley Township. This, just as Abbotsford made their case for an east-west LRT connection to serve density there. These options will not precluded use of the Interurban from discussions. In fact the 200th Street LRT and east-west LRT in Abbotsford would be complimentary to the Interurban making it even more viable and sustainable, and may help the case to obtain system funding from other orders of government.

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