An $8 billion Rebuild B.C. infrastructure program announced by the BC Liberals Oct. 5, would include new interchanges and overpasses connecting Highway 99 with 24 Avenue and 32 Avenue in South Surrey, according to a release sent out Oct. 16 by the BC Liberal Party.
In the release, BC Liberal candidates Stephanie Cadieux (Surrey South) and Trevor Halford (Surrey-White Rock) said such infrastructure investments would be top priorities should the party form the next government.
But the announcement was met by skepticism from Bryn Smith, NDP candidate in the Surrey-White Rock riding, who told Peace Arch News he takes the idea with a “heavy grain of salt.”
“When it comes to the BC Liberals, we’ve heard these commitments before,” he said. “They had 16 years to get these things built – and they didn’t.”
He also questioned where, for instance, a new interchange would be placed on 24 Avenue.
“I don’t know where they would put it without putting even more strain on traffic on 24 Avenue,” he said, adding that the NDP is looking at more rapid transit options rather than basing transportation solutions on a reliance on individual vehicles.
“Now is not the time to invest in car-based infrastructure,” he said. “This doesn’t look forward, it looks backward.”
Pixie Hobby, BC Green candidate for Surrey-White Rock, said the road projects were also not top priority for her party.
Rather than being focused on a “four-year election cycle” or infrastructure projects that “might attract attention” in the short term, she said, the Greens plan a $1-billion targeted innovation investment fund aiming at long-term climate benefits through such goals as zero carbon emissions.
Bio-fuel and clean energy strategies – such as electrifying transit systems and providing a broad network of electric vehicle charging stations – would also be high priority she said, although she didn’t rule out road infrastructure projects altogether.
A Green government, she added, would consult with municipalities on what each needed. In the case of Surrey, she said, that would likely include forward-thinking infrastructure projects in line with the city’s Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy.
Halford maintained, however, that promises made in his party’s announcement – particularly the interchanges and overpasses at 32 and 24 Avenues – represent a necessary infusion of cash to jump-start long-awaited projects that are already in the works.
“My understanding is the City of Surrey has been looking at these projects for a long time – a lot of the work in planning has been done,” he said. “The process has been started for a while, but there hasn’t been any funding at the provincial level – we need to get moving here.”
Halford said traffic congestion on 32 Avenue and 24 Avenue has become overwhelming in recent years.
“I hear that from the community all the time,” he said. “The City of Surrey is growing at an enormous rate – we need to get caught up on transportation and infrastructure.”
– files from Black Press Media
Peace Arch News