Tories promise $700 million for light-rail lines in Surrey

The green lines are part of the Tories’ commitment. The blue line, which would stretch to the riding Watts is running in, is not

Plus, Ballard inks a deal in China and Taseko looks for a tailings pond solution

Light rail promises
In an outdoor announcement at Concord Pacific’s Surrey showroom, Dianne Watts, Conservative candidate for South Surrey-White Rock and former Surrey mayor, announced that the Tories would commit $700 million to Surrey’s proposed $2.2-billion light-rail transit project—independent of TransLinklaying out a commitment that had been in the works for weeks (and that Watts has been involved with for years). The two LRT lines would “spur economic growth” by reducing congestion and “allowing businesses to get their products to market faster and more easily,” said Watts in a statement. The Tories would pay for their share of the two lines—the first, a 10.9-kilometre line from Guildford to Newton, and the second, a 17.1-kilometre line along the Fraser Highway to Langley—with funds from their $1-billion transit fund, as laid out in this year’s budget.

The Tories’ commitment comes as no surprise. As the transit referendum looked set to fail, James Moore, the government’s pointman for the Lower Mainland, said in June that B.C. would “absolutely get their fair share” regardless of the outcome, paving the way for a federal commitment that excluded TransLink. As anti-tax crusader Jordan Bateman notes (yes, that one), the project had “already advanced to a second round of P3 vetting at the federal level” under Watts, and that “she had anticipated that cutting TransLink out of the process was the way to go.”

The Tories aren’t alone in commitments to regional transit, however. The Liberal candidate for Surrey Centre, Sukh Dhaliwal, committed to funding LRT earlier in September, as part of his party’s promise to spend $20 billion on public transportation projects across the country. The New Democrats have also committed to spend on public transit, $1.3 billion, but have yet to specify what exactly that would mean for B.C. And they have reason to: of the South Fraser’s seven seats, the Tories are projected to easily pick up two, Langley-Aldergrove and Cloverdale-Langley City, and face a close fight in three more: Delta, Fleetwood-Port Kells and South Surrey-White Rock.

Powering through
Ballard Power Systems is headed back into the Chinese market after signing a $17-million deal with Guangdong Synery Hydrogen Power Technology Co. Ltd (or “Synergy” for short) to provide fuel cell parts and services for the latter’s fleet of 300 buses in Foshan—a suburb of Guangzhou. Ballard’s last foray into China ended in January when the company axed a similar deal over a breach of contract.

Leaks in the creek
Taseko Mines plans to increase the amount of water it discharges into the Fraser River from the waste storage facility at its open pit copper-molybdenum mine north of Williams Lake. The request to the provincial government to increase its discharge is a measure to comply with the provincial government’s new rules on the size of tailings ponds, announced in the wake of the breach at Mount Polley. The local Tsilqhot’in is calling on the company to look at other options. (Vancouver Sun)