Businesses urged to lobby for rapid transit connection

It's imperative local business leaders and residents help lobby TransLink for a better Cloverdale connection, Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt says.

Marvin Hunt

Speak up if you don’t want rapid transit to bypass Cloverdale. If you haven’t, then don’t complain when any future expansion by TransLink runs straight to Langley.

That’s the message Surrey city councillor Marvin Hunt had for members of the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association last week, when he spoke at their annual general meeting.

Hunt said it’s imperative business leaders and residents help lobby – hard – for a Cloverdale connection.

TransLink is currently studying rapid transit expansion options through Surrey – whether it’s SkyTrain, an option vehemently opposed by Surrey councillors, light rail or bus rapid transit.

Hunt’s not impressed with TransLink’s latest set of routes, which include scenarios for lines running down Fraser Highway from Surrey City Centre to downtown Langley – an option that he believes will serve Langley at the expense of Cloverdale.

Hunt’s pressing for any Fraser Highway line to bend down to 64 Avenue in Cloverdale, possibly at 168 or 176 Street. From there, the line would be in position to connect with the Cloverdale Fairgrounds – and future streetcar and heritage rail restoration plans in the historic downtown.

“My concern is that TransLink is completely ignoring Cloverdale, bypassing it, so that all we’re doing is continuing to build Langley Township and Langley City,” Hunt said.

“For the life of me, I don’t know why we would want to build Langley City,” he said. “I think Cloverdale has a whole lot more to offer.”

The City of Surrey is helping fast track efforts to relocate the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society’s car barn from Sullivan Station to 176 Street just south of Highway 10 later this year.

Once complete, a restored BCER would operate out of Cloverdale Station, running along the original Interurban rail line between Sullivan and Cloverdale.

There are also local efforts to restore an electric street car, the Clover Belle, in hopes of launching service in downtown Cloverdale.

“With a streetcar system, we could easily bring people down into Cloverdale and keep them” in the historic centre.

Translink has asked the public for feedback on its findings, hosting two public workshops in Surrey in June and encouraging people to visit its website at www.translink.ca/en/Be-Part-of-the-Plan/Public-Consultation/Surrey-Rapid-Transit-Study.

Hunt asked BIA members to show up to any future public consultation sessions TransLink hosts on the matter.

“Please show up to it, and give your opinions as well, because if you don’t give your opinions, they’re going to continue to ignore Cloverdale. And they’ll just send it shooting down Fraser Highway.”

Meanwhile, the city is pressing ahead with efforts to build a new convention and entertainment complex on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds through a private-public partnership.

The city received three bids from interested parties after it issued a request for proposals earlier this year, Hunt said.

But the city decided to halt and re-launch the process after hearing about a federal P3 program that could bring a lot more money to the table.

“Hopefully in 2012 we should be hearing more about the design on it,” he said.

The idea is to replace some of the existing structures on the fairgrounds and have the ability to bring the Cloverdale Rodeo “indoors” if the weather doesn’t cooperate, he said.

“What I’m hoping is if we can get the RFP for the multiplex far enough advanced, then we can lobby TransLink and say, this is what we’re building here,” he said.

“We need to get access to it by rapid transit so that we can in fact promote people making good use of it. I think the two can tie together very well.”

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