South of Fraser Issues

The South Fraser is a unique sub-region within southern BC and the Lower Mainland. As of 2011 over 900,000 people living in the sub-region, from Delta to Chilliwack, and that number is expected to reach over one million in the next few years.

The South Fraser is also home to the best agricultural land, protected areas, and sensitive ecosystems in the province. How do we protect our open spaces while accommodating growth? Do we want more urban sprawl or communities that are truly livable and sustainable? If we want sustainable communities, we need sustainable transportation options.

The South Fraser has a transportation deficit. Our roads are clogged and transit services are minimal. It’s time to invest in transportation options. It’s time to invest in public transit. It’s time to put people first in community and transportation planning.


-The South Fraser region has always had a “transit deficit”; we are under-served.

-The current transit system is focus on getting people to Vancouver and not within our sub-region. Even transit to Vancouver is unreliable at times.

-No streetcar and light rail options south of the Fraser – only roads and buses.

-Lack of transit oriented development (TOD) in the South Fraser region.

-A disconnect between development and transit. Without light rail, developers and cities must build around the automobile.

-Current development focused around mobility (roads) and not people.

-The need for long-term and sustainable living, working and transportation solutions.

-Lack of progressive alternatives (water, rail and roads) that are now required to move goods that will sustain and grow our economy.

-The need for innovative strategies that connect walking, cycling and overall people movement within our communities and beyond.

-We have roads and most don't have bike lanes. Where there are, they are poorly planned. Other roads will facilitate walkers, but many don’t.

Things to Ponder

Look around you anywhere in the South Fraser region from Surrey to Chilliwack, you will see massive development. The options are endless, from single-family homes to townhouses and condominiums. Attend your local council meetings and count the numbers of units being proposed.

Progress is great and the last time we checked, shelter is a necessity of life. The South Fraser region also presents options to people because our homes are more affordable than other places. We like options.

From 1910 to 1950 the people of the South Fraser region had options. A railway called the Interurban moved people from Chilliwack to Vancouver in an efficient manner. One day it was decided that cars represented the way forward for moving people, so in 1950 our society decided to concentrate on building roads and closed down the Interurban railway line. Our choices were limited greatly the day that a bunch of Interurban passenger rail cars were piled up under the Burrard Bridge in Vancouver and burned. In a few short hours transportation choices for you and possibly your children went up in smoke. We would like to see the Interurban railway option restored for all of us and within our lifetime.

Around the world people have come to realize that despite building more roads, we never seem to reduce our commute times or ease road congestion. A renaissance of sorts is happening around the globe. Places that once had Interurban railways are rediscovering it as a viable transit option. So many have embarked on ambitious streetcar and light rail transportation solutions. The streetcars get people to work, nearby shops and other places they need to go. The light rail trains connect communities.

In the city-state of Singapore innovative commercial, residential, live/work and people amenities like restaurants, shops and theatres cohabitate and are all connected by the sleek and modern MRT train line. This full city within the city will be built out over the next 50 years and is called BIOPOLIS. But the Republic of Singapore has done this many times before on a smaller scale. Inexpensive, regular and reliable bus service connects the system.

Closer to home, the City of Portland, Oregon has made a significant commitment to light rail over the years. You can travel anywhere in Portland’s downtown core free of charge on the streetcars. A double zone fare takes you out to the suburbs on the MAX line where an extensive network of cheap and reliable buses connect the system.

There’s much talk these days about limiting greenhouses gases. We will not reduce greenhouse gases and our dependence on fossil fuels by building more roads. They can be reduced through the use of modern electric light rail that will move people along effortlessly.

Many of the transportation issues that are facing our world today are compounded annually. We need light rail solutions now and not 30 years from now.