Monday, April 23, 2018

Population projections show critical need for Fraser Highway Light Rail

Last week, I posted about population growth in our region based on the latest information available from the Metro Vancouver Regional District. One of the significant shifts is population is the migration of people who currently living in Vancouver and Burnaby, towards Surrey and Langley. What will the population in our region look like in the next 20 years? The following map shows the projected population by 2041, including the change in population from the latest census.

Projected population growth between 2016 to 2041 in Metro Vancouver, by area. Select map to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

What I like about this map is that it breaks population figures down by urban contiguous areas. Cloverdale and Langley will have a similar population to the Tri-Cities. Surrey will eclipse Vancouver in population starting in 2041.

The South of Fraser will see close to 390,000 people move-in over the next few decades. How we design our transportation systems and communities will be critical to ensure that our region doesn’t grind to a halt. Building mixed-use town centres that are walkable and bikeable, connected by high quality transit will be a must. Just as critical will be to ensure that the majority of jobs are located near transit.

One of the transit projects that I’m most anxious to see open is light rail connecting Downtown Langley to Downtown Surrey.

Last week, UBC started pushing for an extension of the Millennium Line to their Point Grey campus. I’m all for more transit service everywhere in our region, but I also know that the current 10-Year Transportation Vision doesn’t include a SkyTrain extension to UBC. Funding being limited, I always have a bit of a concern that the South of Fraser will get the short end of the stick.

If additional funding becomes available to support building light rail along King George Boulevard, along Fraser Highway, and SkyTrain all the way to UBC, that would be great news. If the funding envelope stays the same, I hope that all levels of government will stick to the current 10-Year Transportation Vision. I believe that sticking to the vision is important, not just because I live in Langley, but because of the sheer number of people that will be moving to the South of Fraser over the next two decades.

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