Borrow $8 billion for Fraser Valley rail link, Abbotsford mayor urges province

Henry Braun urges province to borrow billions to connect Abbotsford & Chilliwack to Metro Vancouver

All Abbotsford’s mayor wants from the provincial government is up to $8 billion for transportation in the Fraser Valley.

That sum sounds like a lot of money because, again, it’s $8 billion. But Mayor Henry Braun told council Monday that he thinks a rapid transit link to Abbotsford is (relatively) affordable and can be done if the province is as ambitious as a pair of legendary British Columbia politicians.

“WAC Bennett and Phil Gaglardi were some people who made some bold moves. I think the present provincial government needs to make some bold moves and one of them would be commuter rail,” Braun said after a council discussion on feedback that Abbotsford will send to TransLink as that body shapes its plans for the next 30 years.

“I do think the day has come for lots of reasons … that it’s perhaps time that the province needs to look at borrowing $7 (billion) to $8 billion – with a B,” he said. “It should come out to Abbotsford and eventually to Chilliwack as well because there are 300,000 people that live east of the Langley border.”

Braun has regularly and repeatedly called for the widening of Highway 1 between Langley and Abbotsford, and the city has listed that project as its top transportation priority. But the province has focused more on rapid transit projects, and in December the premier’s chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, promised to meet with Braun soon to discuss the subject.

RELATED: Abbotsford mayor to discuss rapid transit link with Premier’s chief of staff

RELATED: Plan to extend Fraser Valley Express bus to Lougheed SkyTrain station by 2021

Braun said the time is right for a commuter-rail transit link between Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford and Chilliwack. Braun doesn’t believe the existing Interurban freight line through the valley will work, but said the time is right for the province to lay its own tracks out to Abbotsford.

“Interest rates are at historic lows,” he said. “There is good debt and bad debt. That would be a good debt, because that infrastructure would be built to last 100-plus years.”

Braun, who previously ran a rail construction business, said he is confident that the province could borrow such a sum and still maintain its AAA credit rating because B.C.’s debt-to-GDP ratio would still be reasonable.

“As I’ve looked at the numbers, borrowing $7 (billion) to $8 billion is doable and would not push up the provincial debt-to-GDP ratio to the levels where the rating agencies would get exercised. It’s manageable and I think that has to happen.

“The Fraser Valley can solve a lot of problems to the west of us,” he added.

Braun pointed to the lack of available industrial land in Metro Vancouver and repeated Abbotsford’s desire to remove two blocks of farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve for such purposes.

“You have to develop regional hubs. We have a university and airport … I think we need to get a little more vocal about investing significant funds in this valley.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langley Chamber of Commerce asks for input on rail blockades

The local business group is asking if local businesses have been impacted

VIDEO: Giants winning streak now stands at 11

Team erased a 5-2 deficit by scoring every five minutes

Lions Clubs donate generous gift to local hospital to help Langley breathe easy

A $56,000 donation is the largest the hospital has received from the Lions Club

LETTER: End the blockades, pleads Langley reader

People have a right to protest, then there’s a question about the rights of all the others

Langley Advance Times Arts Calendar: Feb. 21, 2020 edition

The arts calendar is published Fridays and the community calendar is in the Wednesday print edition

VIDEO: Behind the scenes of turning newspapers into digital archives

Kelowna Capital News donated materials dating from 1980 to 2000

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Fiery collision involving truck closes Highway 1 at Three Valley Gap

Drivers should expect major delays and congestion; estimated time of re-opening is 2 p.m.

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

‘A bag full of garbage every 15 metres’: Surrey industrial area filled with trash

Local workers looking to recruit business, raise funds to help dispose of litter

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Most Read