SURREY, B.C. – The federal and British Columbia governments reiterated their commitment Tuesday to funding two major rapid transit projects in Metro Vancouver.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan stood together to show their support for the Broadway subway project in Vancouver and a new light rail transit line in Surrey.
Ottawa and B.C. are spending more than $3 billion on the projects, which will see 5.7 kilometres of track and six stations added to the SkyTrain line along Broadway, helping to ease congestion on the busy corridor connecting east and west Vancouver.
The Broadway subway is slated to carry 5,100 more passengers an hour in each direction than the bus service it will replace.
Eleven new stations will be built along 10.5 kilometres of street-level track in Surrey, creating the first light-rail system in B.C. The LRT project will take passengers from one end of the line to the other in about 27 minutes.
The Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT project is intended to make it easier to travel across the Lower Mainland.
The announcement mirrored a previous agreement on the project released in March.
But Trudeau said the federal government wanted to show the transit projects have support from Ottawa before municipal elections in the fall.
“What we’re doing right now is making sure that in advance of the municipal elections everyone understands that we’ve locked in this funding for the next 10 years,” he said.
Horgan agreed with Trudeau that there is a spirit of co-operation between Ottawa, the province and the municipalities to get the projects started.
“This is about locking this down. This is happening. It’s not being revisited. It’s going to be putting people to work and getting people moving in the Lower Mainland,” he said.
“The cheque’s in the mail and we’re going to be building.”
Ottawa is contributing $1.37 billion to the two projects, while B.C. is spending $1.82 billion. Regional transit provider Translink, Vancouver and Surrey will contribute $1.23 billion.
Later on Tuesday, Trudeau joined Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair for a roundtable meeting with youth affected by gun violence in Surrey.
Trudeau told young people gathered in the room that he was interested to hear their ideas for solutions.
“Obviously there are significant challenges facing youth in Surrey, issues around guns and gangs,” he said.
“But more than that, I want to hear from you about some of the issues you’re facing and where we could do a better job as a society of giving you the tools to figure out how you and your friends, and your schools and your community can do better.”
The Surrey community has rallied against gang violence in recent months. More than 1,000 people gathered in June to protest the violence after two teens were killed in what police called a targeted shooting.
Before meeting with the youth, Trudeau met privately with members of a South Asian parents’ group called Wake Up Surrey.
They told Trudeau the increasing gang violence in the city is a “crisis situation,” said spokesman Sukhi Sandhu after the meeting.
They asked the prime minister for $40 million to be given directly to the city to fund anti-gang initiatives, as well as monthly meetings with Sajjan, and Trudeau appeared receptive, said Sandhu.
“This is not a political issue. We have to come together to save our children,” he said.
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