SURREY - Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts has taken her concerns over the city's transit infrastructure to new Transportation Minister Todd Stone in hopes of sorting out transit issues throughout the Lower Mainland.
On Thursday, Watts and numerous other local mayors met with Stone in a Mayor's Council meeting to discuss issues surrounding public transit and transportation infrastructure in the area.
"The minister has certainly a difficult task ahead of him," she said. "He's only been in the post for three months and a lot of us around the table have been doing this for a number of years with five different transportation ministers.
"Clearly, there is a level of frustration, but there is also a keen interest on both sides to just move forward, move the region forward and just get done what we need to get done."
At the meeting, Watts pushed the City of Surrey's interest in light rail transit (LRT) as an estimated 1,200 move into the city every month.
"I think it is so important, with the influx of the population, that we get that infrastructure in," she said. "We need to start looking at what that funding model should look like."
Watts said the Mayor's Council has put forward numerous options, which she hopes will become more concrete by the meeting on Oct. 18. She also agreed with statements Delta Mayor Lois Jackson has made criticizing how TransLink is organized and the lack of transparency from the transit authority.
"The governance model has to be changed, there's no doubt about that," said Watts. "We've been saying that five ministers ago that it's not functioning properly.
"There has to be a significant communication strategy and information going to the general public."
Watts also voiced her concerns regarding an upcoming referendum on TransLink's funding, noting that she wants Surrey to see its fair share of the investment.
"The residents south of the Fraser have paid for infrastructure for the Evergreen Line, the West Coast Express, the Millennium Line, the Canada Line," she said. "What we don't want to have happen is the residents in North Van or Burnaby or New West say, 'No, we don't want to fund any expansion south of the Fraser.' That's the challenge in terms of going to a referendum.
"When communities have all of the infrastructure they need, why would they support adding dollars to a system that they don't need?"
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