Uber has been available for years in other provinces. (Contributed)

Transportation minister says Surrey mayor must ‘work through’ his opposition to ride hailing

Claire Trevena tackled ride hailing and other transportation issues Monday in Surrey

Provincial Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena says Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum’s opposition to ride hailing, such as Uber, is something he’ll “have to work through.”

“We’re looking at provincial regulations and how we can make sure that at-base ride hailing is going to work in B.C. and that’s out priority,” Trevena told the Now-Leader on Monday. “What happens in various jurisdictions I think is something the mayor is going to have to work through, but we’re looking at a provincial model.”

Trevena tackled ride hailing, or ride sharing, and other transportation issues in Surrey during a Surrey Board 0f Trade business luncheon Monday in Whalley. The NDP MLA for North Island spoke at the Civic Hotel, at 13475 Central Ave.

“We’ve also got work on some of the highways going out towards the port, to relieve some of the congestion people have been facing, Highway 17, 91, around there, with the connector and then the Alex Fraser Bridge, just trying to relieve congestion and we think that’s going to have a major impact,” she told the Now-Leader.

She said during her speech that a government committee is now hearing from witnesses as it deliberates ride-hailing regulations.

“I would hope it’s worst case that at the fall of this year that we will be in the position to have applications. If ICBC and all the regulations are in place beforehand, that would be great, it would be sooner. We’re making up for effectively five wasted years to get this happening. We want to get it right — I emphasize safety has to be number one.”

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum — who wasn’t at the luncheon as he was in Ottawa meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Big Cities Mayors’ Caucus in Ottawa — has said he doesn’t support ride sharing or Uber in Surrey, but the board of trade disagrees.

Two days after McCallum was elected, the Surrey Board of Trade issued a press release on Oct. 22 indicating it will continue to advocate for rides haring, as well as light rail transit and keeping the RCMP rather than creating a city police force.

The latter is a topic that was set to be explored Tuesday morning after the Now-Leader’s print deadline, during a Surrey Board of Trade breakfast forum, also at the Civic, as part of its “hot topic dialogue series.”

READ ALSO: Surrey business groups dig in heels on LRT

The Tuesday forum focussed on the city’s transition from the RCMP to its own city police force, with guest speakers Fraser MacRae (former assistant commissioner and officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP), Kash Heed (former solicitor general and public safety minister), Bob Rolls (former deputy chief constable, Vancouver Police), and Mike Larsen (chairman, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s criminology department).

Surrey city council has cancelled the Surrey RCMP’s contract and cancelled LRT in favour of extending the SkyTrain line from the city centre through Fleetwood and Clayton into Langley.

Meantime, at Monday’s luncheon the board of trade released the results of its 12-page third annual Surrey Road Survey.

Of 6,000 questionnaires distributed, the Surrey Board of Trade received roughly 1,500 responses. Of all respondents, 87 per cent rated LRT on Fraser Hwy from city centre to Langley from “would be good to have” to “definitely need it.” All told, 82 per cent want the new Pattullo Bridge to have six lanes on opening day and 72 per cent want a bridge to replace the George Massey tunnel.

Fifty-two per cent of the respondents live and work in Surrey.

“Really, the bottom line is we need planning and action that anticipates our need and results in infrastructure construction well in advance of increased demand,” Huberman said, “not long after the capacity is exceeded.”

She noted Surrey has about 4,500 “lane kilometres” of road serving a population growing by 800 to 1,000 new people each month.

Huberman said the board recommends that all three levels of government work together to develop a comprehensive transit and transportation plan for south of the Fraser, “one that would not be subject to political interference but based on best transportation practices.”

On April 21, 2016, the Surrey Board of Trade issued a press release ”advocating” for ride-sharing legislation.

“There will be an economic impact upon the taxi industry and we encourage the BC government to take steps to mitigate this impact by reviewing the current regulatory regime on the taxi industry and other transportation providers,” Huberman stated in that press release.

Meantime, Trevena said the $1.3 billion Pattullo Bridge project will be four lanes. “I know that is a point of contention,” she said. “But it will make the crossing between Surrey and New Westminster safer and easier.”

SEE VIDEO: New Pattullo Bridge expected to open in 2013

During her speech, Trevena reconfirmed that the Pattullo Bridge will be toll-free. “So those people who are daily using the Pattullo, who rely on it, many who live in Surrey, will not have to pay for the cost of the bridge beyond how they already pay for it, through their taxes.”

Trevena says the provincial government “will continue to fix the bottleneck for cars” and two projects in Surrey — the Fraser Heights greenway and 164th Street – will be improved, she said.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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