Doug McCallum is the new Mayor of Surrey and arguably one of the most disruptive in the first 8 months of office. His cynical demagoguery led his party to a landslide victory, striking gold with opposers to the previously reigning Surrey First party who were already struggling with their reputation. Unfortunately, this Mayor has been on a path of unruly destruction against all virtue of democracy. One decision in particular is costing Surrey billions of dollars, completely ignores what the city needs, and is utterly dishonest. You could have guessed it. The Surrey Skytrain is a true disaster of an idea; a decision that is saturated in the mayor’s lies as he covers up his malevolence. This article will expose the nasty insides of the project, and raise a serious question: How is he getting away with this?
To any opposing voice, Doug will say something along the lines of: ‘those who voted for me voted for Skytrain’. Now these words ring well in his head and they are definitely worth considering, but the argument actually works against him. If he brings election results into the picture, why is he discounting the two previous terms where the Surrey First party with LRT at the forefront of their ideas, had continued success for ten years.
Doug, we are well aware that you won the election. That doesn’t mean we’re automatically game for any of your multi-billion-dollar projects.
Despite his failure to understand the democratic process, he continues to push for Skytrain. Contrary to his behaviour, when the two previous mayors won, they understood the importance of the people’s voice thus consulted with the public for numerous years on LRT. Doug McCallum did not consult with Surrey on Skytrain. He instead threw out 10 years of democratic consultation and upped the price by billions.
Doug, you are not an expert planner
Doug makes choices with little to no expert knowledge on the subject. The central issue with this project, however, isn’t even the lack of consultation or expertise – although those points are still very important. The main issue is the hidden lie at the center of it all. That is, this isn’t a change of infrastructure which is what he campaigned on.
Skytrain for Surrey is NOT just a change of infrastructure – this is a lie.
Doug will continue to claim that people want trains in the sky, so that’s what he’s giving them – but this is sheer demagoguery. He is pandering to a big portion of Surrey – drivers who hate traffic - not transit users and this gives him relief from the press. If this project was actually just a change from street cars to Skytrain, there would be less of an issue.
The issue here is that he moved the route.
Despite Doug’s efforts to mislead us, his decision was not about infrastructure or ridership. This was a decision where he chose to neglect Surrey’s minority races along the L-line corridor and use our city’s own federal transit funding to give Langley a Skytrain.
Doug is neglecting Surrey’s minorities and serving Langley.
The LRT project’s L-line was already breaking ground. Diverse populations along the proposed line were about to receive an advanced rapid transit system and this was planned for way beyond 10 years. LRT sought to connect well over 100,000 Surrey residents to inner-city and outer-city destinations. Until Doug McCallum came along, looked Newton, Whalley, and Guildford straight in the eye and told them “No, you can take the bus” – then began a Skytrain line that will predominately serve the city Langley.
This graph shows us the make-up of people that Skytrain will be serving in Surrey alone, let alone Langley which is a predominantly white neighbourhood. Not only would Skytrain serve a completely different demographic, it would also serve 20,000 people less.
The stars had to align for Doug to pull off such an insane overhaul, and lucky for him, they did. Trudeau gave him the go ahead, Vancouver’s mayor Kennedy Stewart teamed up with him to pass the decision in Mayor’s council, and the citizens have somehow remained silent.
An important question has to be raised here:
Does the mayor of Surrey care more about Langley than Guildford and Newton?
His track record so far says yes - yes he does. Him and Mayor Stewart may share the same vision – that is to connect everyone in Metro Vancouver to UBC with rapid transit. And although this shared vision is one that we can all love, it should NOT be achieved by neglecting Surrey’s minorities.