Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June 13, 2016 Council Meeting Notes – Light Rail vs SkyTrain, Sink Holes, and Branding

Last night’s Council meeting started off with a presentation from Anita Huberman who is the CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade. She is also the chair of the Light Rail Links Coalition; a Surrey-based group that is advocating for light rail transit in the South of Fraser. Joining her was Paul Lee who is the Rapid Transit & Strategic Projects Manager at the City of Surrey.

She noted that the South of Fraser is currently under-served when it comes to transit, and stressed the importance of transit service as an “economic foundation” for the South of Fraser. Light Rail along King George Boulevard, 104th Street, and Fraser Highway is being proposed in the Regional Transportation Investments plan supported by the Mayors’ Council. Anita noted that light rail is right solution for rapid transit in the South of Fraser as it is more cost-effective than SkyTrain, and provides the same benefits.

Light rail map from Light Rail Links Coalition. Select map to enlarge.

After the presentation, City Council asked questions of both Anita Huberman and Paul Lee. The majority of Council seemed to have concerns that light rail would not be the best technology along the Fraser Highway corridor, and I certainly got the impression that they’d like to see SkyTrain.

I asked questions about the difference in travel time and cost between light rail and SkyTrain. Mr. Lee noted that SkyTrian would be about 5 minutes faster than light rail between Langley City and King George SkyTrain station. He also noted that due to soil conditions, the cost of SkyTrain will be significantly more than light rail.

Councillor Martin put forward a motion at the end of the presentation to have City Staff do a comparison of both SkyTrain and light rail technology along the Fraser Highway corridor which was approved by all of council. As TransLink is already doing this comparison, this information should be easy to put together.

The transportation vision that has been approved regionally is based on light rail in the South of Fraser. If moving to SkyTrain along Fraser Highway means that another part of the vision needs to be removed; I cannot support that.

Now the provincial government has a way of turning all light rail projects into SkyTrain projects. If the provincial government comes to the table with extra funds for SkyTrain along Fraser Highway, and the rest of the regional transportation vision stays funded, I could support that.

After the motion, Councillor Stroteboom gave a brief update about upcoming events at the Metro Vancouver regional district. Councillor Martin provided an update about Tourism Langley. They are looking at increasing the hotel tax from 2% to 3% for the period July 2017 to 2021.

Mayor Ted Schaffer displayed an award that the City of Langley received for McBurney Lane by Landscape Architect Network. The recently redesigned plaza came in 4th as part of “Canada’s Got Talent — 10 Awesome Examples of Landscape Architecture in Canada.”

Following the unveiling of the award, Rick Bomhof provide an update from the Engineering and Parks departments. Bomhof noted that the Dumas Park playground upgrade was recently completed. He also said that people can submit feedback online about the City Park Master Plan until June 16th.

Last week, a sink hole developed along 56th Avenue due to a failed Metro Vancouver sewer main. City staff was quick to response, and stabilized the situation until Metro Vancouver staff arrived. This sewer main is in the processes of being replaced by a new sewer line that Metro Vancouver recently installed, but not all sewer connections have been moved off the old main. The old sewer main has been repaired to allow an orderly transition of all connections to the new sewer main.

Bomhof also mentioned that the 2016 Paving Program is in full swing. Paving along 201A Street between 53A Ave to 54A Ave, Salt Lane, and Douglas Crescent west of 204th Street has been completed recently.

Kim Hilton gave an update on City-sponsored activities. You can find out more about these event on the City’s website, but I wanted to highlight Community Day which is happening this weekend.

City Council gave final reading to a bylaw to regulate e-cigarettes. I have mentioned this in previous council meeting notes.

Council also gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw to update our Waterworks regulation bylaw. If adopted, the update will require properties that are be redeveloping or being significantly renovated to install new water service connections if their existing service is older than 30 years, uses an undesirable material type, is undersized, or is damaged. Old water services connections are a common source of leaks in the City.

Council also approved additional funding for developing an identity manual as part of the City’s new corporation brand strategy. Banding is about more than a logo and slogan. If done right, people should know they are in the City of Langley just by looking around.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To me, Skytrain is the obvious choice for the Fraser Highway corridor. It's faster than LRT and far more reliable, not to mention that LRT creates an unnecessary transfer at King George.

LRT running on the street takes up more space than a Skytrain guideway would and introduces significant conflict with vehicles. There will be collisions between LRT and cars which will bring the system to a halt - this is a problem that Skytrain avoids completely. Even buses can at least detour around an accident - LRT is the least flexible option. LRT will also create conflicts with pedestrians and cyclists - again, another problem that Skytrain avoids entirely.

When it comes to cost, Skytrain may cost more to build but will cost less to operate as it is an automated driverless system. It also allows Translink to utilize the same rolling stock and OMC as the rest of the system, while LRT would require new train cars and facilities.

You can make an argument for the KGB/104 corridors, but Fraser Highway has to be Skytrain. You mention that council seemed predisposed to Skytrain - I'm glad to hear that. Given that you've essentially ignored the significant downsides of LRT while barely mentioning the benefits of Skytrain, it seems that you are the one who has already made up his mind.