IMPORTANT Please Read – The “Smart and Only Way” TO Solve the South of Fraser’s Transportation & Transit Deficit! What is Stopping Us?

Posted: August 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

The “Smart and Only Way” To Fiscally, Economically and Environmentally Solve the South of Fraser’s Transportation & Transit Deficit! “Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack”, Tourism, Business or Community – WHAT IS STOPPING US?

A 99 Km State of the Art Community Light Rail Passenger Service from the Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack, that will contribute significantly to  economic growth, create thousands of jobs, serve 1.2 million citizens, Sixteen cities and communities, major industrial parks, Abbotsford International Airport (expect 1,000,000 passengers in 2019), Agri Tourism, FOURTEEN Post-Secondary Institution Campuses and much much more!

All of this on an existing protected rail line at NO COST for use; 99 kms at a TOTAL COST that is 48% of the TOTAL COST of the proposed 16 Km LRT line down Fraser Highway from Surrey Center to Langley City or 20.23% of the per capita cost! Langley City and the community of Clayton would receive the same service and the taxpayer would pay 7.9% of the per-KM cost of Surrey LRT, PLUS serve the ENTIRE Fraser Valley while we are at it!

So to the question of WHY? Why would anyone in elected office or with staff responsibility to recommend or implement a viable option do so that is so fiscally, economically and environmentally IRRESPONSIBLE? Did anyone do their homework? Was or is there an ulterior motive? What about the potential for land deals for friends and insiders? It is a license to print money! I have spent years as an Alderman and a Mayor, I say this with some significant knowledge of how the system works and who gets to be heard, in certain communities. Speculators with inside knowledge have done very well at the public’s (your) expense. Think this isn’t a possibility? Think again! After all, it is all paid for with YOUR tax dollars!

So let’s consider a recent real life example? The just approved Surrey LRT line was estimated in 2015 (publicly) to cost $1.08 Billion, today it has been approved at $1.65 Billion, that is an increase of $570 million (a 53% increase) in a very short three years. Two important points to remember “1” the Translink CFO explained at the announcement that the increase in cost was largely due to an increase in land acquisition cost (surprise) and “2” remember this project has been considered in Surrey for the best part of the last ten years. Was there time for Speculation on land OR Insider info? You bet! Given this example, can you imagine the inflationary cost of property acquisition (by say 2022/24) on the Surrey Center to Langley City line down Fraser Highway? Remember any property acquisition will be paid for through your tax dollars, not the private sector. So the dollars I talk about below are the Surrey LRT numbers of today, using the Surrey Center to Langley line length extrapolated into a proposed cost using today’s dollars. It wouldn’t be out of the question that the per-KM cost could easily grow to $240 Million (Per KM), which cannot happen with this protected Passenger Rail corridor. The corridor is owned by the Provincial Government, B.C. Hydro and protected for passenger use at NO COST by sales contract and agreement.   

We will get to the reasons why we have to start doing what is right for the region, but first some important history. It all started back in 2009 leading up to the general election.

As Mayor in the early Spring of 2009, in the process of researching Township rights related to the heavy rail / Interurban Corridor that passed through our community, I was able to uncover the Master Agreement (previously unknown) covering what is known as the Joint Section (the Pratt Livingston Corridor – roughly 232nd Street thru to Cloverdale). This Master Agreement came about due to the B.C. Government’s sale (1988) of the B.C. Hydro Freight Division, which included rolling stock and rails but NOT the corridor. Essentially the corridor, as part of the agreement allowed for freight use for the full corridor (Now Southern Rail) and for freight use on the joint section by CP Rail. Interestingly enough this Master Agreement, for the joint section, was a 21 year agreement renewable at either parties wish expiring in August of 2009. Why 21 years, nobody knows? The Master Agreement was due to expire in August of 2009. We caught it in time!

FYI – Our neighbor Peter Fassbender, Mayor of Langley City at the time was made aware of these developments as they occurred. For reasons still yet to be determined and still in question, he was never willing to come to the table to fight for such a beneficial development that would have served his community and region in such a significant way. Why? Interestingly the following happened? Again you have to ask the question WHY?

A short time after the above, surprise, surprise, then Premier Gordon Campbell, leading up to the election, (votes anyone) prompted and fed by then Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, announced (out of the blue) that they would build a Skytrain from Surrey Center to Langley City. A more IRRESPONSIBLE idea you could not find (I will explain my reasons for that comment shortly)! But it caught some traction locally, all-be-it it was helped along when Peter Fassbender was chair of the Mayor’s Translink Council at the time. I might add that in a subsequent Translink Board election he was defeated. He did not hold that position for long.

Well we mobilized all municipalities (Mayor’s and Councils) South of the Fraser with a letter writing campaign forcing the Master Agreements renewal through Bob Elton, then CEO of B.C. Hydro in June of 2009, two months before our citizen’s rights (your rights), were lost forever. What rights? There are a number of important protective clauses in the Master Agreement but there are two in particular! First is the fact that the Master Agreement protected the passenger rights use of this corridor (Joint Section) at NO COST, Second is the fact that should double tracking be required on the joint section due to use of the corridor for freight and passenger service, that double tracking will be done at CPs expense. Use of this corridor with today’s technology would NOT negatively affect the flow of freight movement in any way. It may cost CP Rail some double tracking on the joint section but then again they signed THE agreement, confirming they would pay its cost!

Just remember – WORDS MATTER, LEGAL CONTRACTS MATTER AND AGREEMENTS MATTER!

“For a comparison” the West Coast Express (North of the River) costs Translink in LEASE costs paid to CP Rail $20,000,000 per year (That is correct $20 MILLION PER ANNUM). Mission is paying Translink $780,600 per year for their share of this service with their contract coming up for renewal in 2019. These costs DO NOT include annual operational or capital costs, a number which IS NOT available through Translink’s financial report. What are they? Why aren’t they listed separately?

So let’s get back to the substantial reasons, specifically why we should implement the South of Fraser Corridor and NOT consider LRT down Fraser Highway! Langley City and the Clayton area of Surrey can benefit along with the entire Fraser Valley with this corridor. The Facts!

Cost Effective – This proposal for the 99.23 KMs South of Fraser Passenger Rail Project’s (Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack) total cost is 7.9% of the Cost per KM of the projected 16.6 km Surrey to Langley City LRT line down Fraser Highway! It is 20.23% of the Cost per Capita of the Surrey to Langley LRT line. 99.23 kms from Scott Road to Chilliwack that is FREE to the Province for passenger service unlike the Westcoast Express costing taxpayers, again in excess of $20,000,000 per year for its use to CP Rail plus capital and operating costs! OR let’s put it in plain talk – (these are in today’s dollars based on the cost of the current Surrey LRT.)

  • Proposed 16.6 km Surrey to Langley City LRT $157,142,857 per-km – Total $2,608,571,426. NOTE – In 2022 dollars based on the property and cost appreciation experience of the Surrey LRT (last three years) it could easily come in at $240,000,000 per-km for a Total cost of $3,999,000,000.
  • Our proposal – 99.23 km Pattullo to Chilliwack LRT $12,500,000 per-km – Total cost $1,240,375,000. NOTE – This is already publicly owned land; land cost escalation is NOT an issue!

Protects THE Environment – This proposal Eliminates the need to clear cut a large amount of the Green Timbers Urban Forest in Surrey! In addition 1 Train removes 177 cars from Hwy #1 and their emissions from the Fraser Valley Air Shed. It would protect the environment utilizing NEW Proven European Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology, dramatically reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions!

Economy / Job Growth – This proposal would Directly BOOST economic growth through the low cost movement of residents and goods South of the Fraser! It would provide direct access to the Abbotsford International Airport for passengers and employment access up and down the valley! (It is projected that passenger numbers by 2019 would be 1,000,000 passengers.) It would provide direct access to jobs throughout the Fraser Valley, including industrial parks, currently with no or very limited transportation access.

Ease of Regional Movement – This proposal would support and form an integral part of a coordinated and comprehensive transportation network for the entire region. Close to 3 million residents within the region will be able to move between North and West Vancouver, Vancouver out to Chilliwack using Bus, Seabus, West Coast Express, Skytrain and Light Rail! It would dramatically reduce traffic congestion on Highway #1 and on ALL east west road corridors.

Ease of Commuter Movement – Through a network of Park n Rides throughout the South side of the Fraser (Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack) featuring low cost commuter stations (similar to Europe) residents of the South of Fraser will have access to this state of the art system. This system would also be served by a bus network (Ribs) feeding the rail system (Spine) in a similar fashion to that created and occurring in Greater Vancouver with Skytrain.

Ease of Movement for Fraser Valley First Nations – The Township of Langley, the City of Abbotsford and the City of Chilliwack are home to significant First Nations communities. Sto:Lo, Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe, Sumas, Matsqui and Kwantlen First Nations will receive significant benefit from this service. This service would help to connect these First Nations through convenient and inexpensive transportation to populations within 16 Communities, 14 University Campuses, Industrial Parks, Airports and Special Interest venues from Chilliwack to West Vancouver! This transportation would be key to significant employment access and therefore significant job opportunities!

Promote Fraser Valley TourismThis proposal would open up the Fraser Valley and its attractions (Wineries / theme parks / Game Farm / Bike Tours and general Tourism) with access from Vancouver to Chilliwack! Open up transportation access to the growing Agri-Tourism industry throughout the Fraser Valley!

Access to Affordable Housing with transportation to support it Affordable housing is being searched for by those currently trying to live and survive in Metro Vancouver. The suburbs from the Township of Langley East are becoming THE destination of choice. Unfortunately readily accessible and cost effective transportation is the missing link. The Interurban Corridor is THE solution to that problem.

Access to Post-Secondary Education – This proposal would Connect Fourteen Post-Secondary Institution Campuses and 58,000 Students and Staff daily South of the Fraser between Surrey and Chilliwack. Improve Access – Increase Enrollment! The Locations are:

  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey Town Center
  • Simon Fraser University Campus, Surrey Town Center
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Newton
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Cloverdale
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, City of Langley
  • Trinity University, Township of Langley
  • University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford
  • Aircraft Maintenance Training Center / Flight Instruction Abbotsford Airport, Abbotsford.
  • Canada Education Park Chilliwack – Home to:
  • University of the Fraser Valley
  • CBSA – Canadian Border Services Agency
  • Canadian Forces
  • JIBC – Justice Institute of BC
  • RCMP – Pacific Region Training Center
  • CPC West

In Summary: It is long past time that our government considers cost efficiency, practicality, fiscal responsibility, economic responsibility and environmental responsibility when making significant decisions for our region moving forward. It is long past time that we look at the Lower Mainland (Whistler through to Chilliwack) as a region onto itself with one transportation provider, not two as it is today. This capital project should have no-effect on the current carbon gas tax that is held within the Metro Vancouver Regional District Boundaries. Residents North of the Fraser have the West Coast Express that serves a much smaller population at an annual rail lease cost of $20,000,000 PLUS capital and operating costs. The Interurban Rail line use cost is ZERO plus annual capita and operational costs thanks to the Provincial Government of the day. Let’s campaign for common sense, it is long overdue.

It is our goal to convince Translink, the Translink Mayor’s Council and those elected this October South of the Fraser that we want a revision to the Translink 10 year Transportation Plan. This campaign will be intensive and extensive! We are pushing to establish a Provincial endorsed Community led South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force comprised of a cross section of community members and elected municipal politicians. It will be the Task Force’s mandate to the Provincial Government, Translink and BC Transit to prove the value and interest in this intiative.

Say NO to the Fraser Highway option and YES to open up the Fraser Valley Transportation corridor out to Chilliwack. Implementation and activation would be fast, it would be state of the art and it would provide economic stimulus throughout the valley, it would help feed 14 University Campuses, reduce the number of vehicles commuting and solve the environmental issues in the valley.

Again, FACTS matter, WORDS matter, LEGAL CONTRACTS matter and AGREEMENTS matter!

DO YOU WANT A PRESENTATION OF THIS PLAN? We have started booking presentations starting Sept. 4th and through the fall. If your community association, business association, society, service club or political organization would be interested in a detailed presentation of this initiative our team would be pleased to do so. We have a very detailed presentation including an 8 ft. map, Shaw video documentary and much much more. Our contact information is listed below.

VOLUNTEER – If you are interested in getting involved in our campaign by volunteering please contact us through the email below.

NOTE: This post is only the start of an intensive and extensive campaign for the reactivation of the Interurban Corridor from the Pattullo Bridge through to Chilliwack! Much more to come, stay tuned!

Special Note: Our 28 minute Shaw video documentary of this rail line (produced in 2010) is on this BLOG site, click on the “S Fraser Community Rail tab” on the top tool bar to view or the following link – https://langleywatchdog.com/topics/

 

W.R. (Rick) Green

Former Mayor Township of Langley (2008 – 2011)

Home / Office 604 607-7338 – Cell 604 309-7795

Email creeksidefarms@shaw.ca

On behalf of VALTAC – Valley Transportation Advisory Committee Members:

Lee Lockwood, Roy Mufford and Peter Holt

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

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To comment on this post – Click on this Post, top left hand corner under recent posts.

Comments
  1. rickmanuel says:

    This Mayor and council has done next to nothing for our transportation woes but then that’s not news I suppose. At this point most of us would probably support anything that resembled Skytrain or light rail. Mr. FastSpender is running for Mayor in Langley City, will that be a problem to get anything off the ground here as he seemed to be an anchor last time?

  2. Michael McPhee says:

    Mayor Green, I fully support Fraser Valley Interurban Rail. It could be so cool! Think of it: “Driverless electric Ride-sharing shuttles in key centers, moving people to the electrified train stations that connect people to the other town centers!” They are already testing this type of “shuttle” system in Florida and California. The future is now! I for one will be taking a positive approach to help get the “enviros” on board – it is such a no brainer to get this Interurban back on the tracks. All the best Mayor Green and thanks for getting back on the blog horse!

    • Michael, thanks for your comments. This is only the start of what will be an intense and broad ranging campaign to reactivate this corridor with state of the art passenger rail technology. We MUST change the minds of Translink as to the next phase, for the benefits of taxpayers throughout the region. There are a number of posts on the way as well as a stand alone Website for this initiative. I would ask you and all supporters to spread the word and view my BLOG Posts on the subject. Pass it along to friends, neighbors and relatives. Please keep in touch!

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