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Vancouver-region mayors say Surrey must accept the fact there isn’t enough money to fulfill Mayor Doug McCallum’s election promise to extend SkyTrain service to nearby Langley, following a report from the region’s transit authority.

The regional mayors will meet later this week after learning from TransLink that the $1.6-billion available for the project will not cover a proposed 16-kilometre route to the centre of Langley.

“It’s not really a compromise. It’s more of just an acknowledgement that we have a certain amount of funding available,” Jonathan Coté, mayor of New Westminster, and chair of the Mayors Council on Regional Transportation, said in an interview on Tuesday.

“At some point, there is going to have to be a recognition that the funding is only going to be able to deliver a project of a certain scale.”

He said Surrey needs to recognize the considerable “due process” required for major transit projects such as the SkyTrain, including an eventual TransLink business case for the project. Surrey, he said, will have to do some of that work.

Still, Mr. Coté said it was important to proceed with some form of new transit in Surrey, saying the city has, to date, been “underserved” by public transportation despite it being one of the fastest-growing areas of the Vancouver region.

A new SkyTrain extension in Surrey was one of the key election promises made by Mr. McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition. Mr. McCallum, seeking a return to the mayor’s job he held for nine years ending in 2005, promised to scrap an 11-station light-rail transit system and extend the current SkyTrain eastward from Surrey to Langley along the Fraser Highway.

Mr. McCallum has insisted the 16-kilometre elevated SkyTrain line could be built without increasing the $1.6-billion budget. But Jill Drews, a spokeswoman for TransLink, said this week that the budget would not cover the full SkyTrain route to the centre of Langley.

On Tuesday, Oliver Lum, a spokesman for the Surrey mayor, said Mr. McCallum would not be commenting on the new proposal before the mayors' council meeting that is to be held on Thursday.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said Tuesday that TransLink staff’s conclusions on the issue so far were indisputable, and that Surrey will have to compromise on getting the SkyTrain to Langley.

“The reality, according to TransLink, who are the experts more than any political figure in the province, [is] you can only build [new SkyTrain] to a certain extent for the funding envelope. I just don’t see how you can question that fact,” Mr. Brodie said in an interview.

Mike Hurley, the new mayor of Burnaby, said he expects Surrey will proceed with some form of SkyTrain extension given Mr. McCallum’s commitment to such a project.

But the line is going to fall short of Langley, he said, unless Mr. McCallum can somehow find new money from another source.

“Maybe he has got another idea or another solution. I haven’t heard that yet. The dollar funds that are there are what you get. I think that’s where we’re at for right now.”

Mr. Hurley said he was supportive of TransLink staff proceeding with more research, but would await presentations at Thursday’s meeting. “I don’t like to presuppose how I will vote until I hear all the facts,” he said.

A 2012 study by the IBI Group – an architecture, planning, engineering, and technology firm – said LRT could carry about 4,800 people an hour in each direction at peak periods while rail-rapid transit such as SkyTrain would carry up to 17,000 people an hour in each direction.

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