MLA for Surrey-Tynehead
SINCE I chose to retire from provincial politics following the May 2013 general election, this will be my last year-end message dealing with the accomplishments of the government of British Columbia.
I was first elected in 2001, and when I took office I set a number of goals that I would achieve to ensure Surrey was not overlooked in provincial spending, and that it would benefit greatly from having our government in power.
Over the past 12 years we have made enormous strides, and Surrey has gained many great assets that were lacking before this government took office.
It took a great deal of work, a lot of convincing and huge investments of provincial money, and as a result of those efforts I am very proud to say, we have achieved unsurpassed benefits.
I promised from the outset in 2001 that I would do everything I could to bring about the replacement of the Port Mann Bridge. The new one is now open, is the widest bridge of its type in the world and not only offers 10 lanes of traffic but future capacity for rapid transit.
The new Port Mann improves everyone’s commute times, and eliminates the almost day-long traffic gridlock that generated enormous amounts of pollution into our air.
Additionally, the bridge was constructed on the design / build principle in which the company building it is responsible for costs of any remedial work that needs to be done such as placing heating wires on the support cables to eliminate snow and ice build-up.
Not only is the new bridge in place, we will have four lanes each way, all the way from McGill Street in Vancouver to 216th in Langley. This was achieved with an incredible $3.3 billion investment that not only benefits my constituents and the rest of Surrey, but all of British Columbia and the rest of Canada because it is the main route for all commercial transport to and from our ports.
BUT we didn’t stop with just the Port Mann. We are building, and have already partially opened, the South Fraser Perimeter Road which will not only provide access to and from Delta Port for commercial and container transports, but this route will take big, heavy trucks off residential streets, making them much safer.
We have also built and rebuilt all new overpasses and interchanges in Surrey, something that never occurred with any previous provincial administrations since the Port Mann Bridge was completed in 1964.
Not only that, to further improve access north and south of the freeway, we built the 156th Street underpass and also added in the new pedestrian overpass just east of 160th. This overpass allows walkers and cyclists to link up to Tynehead Park from Fraser Heights, and connects our community to walking trails and recreational facilities.
Also with provincial financial investments, all of Surrey’s major traffic arteries have been upgraded: four lanes on 176th (Pacific Highway) from the U.S. border to Highway 1; four lanes on Highway 10 from Langley to the junction of Highway 91 in Delta; Fraser Highway from Surrey Centre into downtown Langley; four-laning of 96th Avenue; and road upgrades throughout the City of Surrey.
And to benefit cross-river commuters and strengthen the major industrial area of Port Kells, the Golden Ears Bridge was built and opened.
ONE of my major objectives when I was elected as an MLA was to have Surrey Memorial Hospital upgraded to meet the needs of my constituents and all Surrey residents. That has happened . . . the structure is completed, and finishing work is now underway on eight new floors for Surrey Memorial. This construction project was and is the largest investment in health care, more than half a billion dollars, in the history of British Columbia.
When completed, the eight-storey critical care tower will mean 151 new beds will have been added to SMH, along with a new, larger emergency department about five times the size of the old one. It will also include a new perinatal centre of excellence for high-risk newborns, a larger adult intensive care unit and an expanded clinical academic campus for Surrey.
Not only will the new improvements vastly increase health care opportunities, it has become a magnet for other ‘campus of care’ investments on adjacent lands, including facilities for mental health and for those suffering addictions.
But Surrey Memorial is not the only health care facility we have created in Surrey. The recently opened Jim Pattison Outpatient Hospital was completed with another $239 million in provincial investment in Surrey.
MILLIONS and millions more have been spent on education for our children, with new schools being built, many others improved and upgraded, and seismic work being done across the city to make schools safer for children.
We also helped create the Simon Fraser Surrey University Campus and upgraded Kwantlen to full university degree-granting status so that our children don’t need to leave home or Surrey to receive the finest in postsecondary education. On top of that we opened the world-class trades and technical training centre of Kwantlen University in Cloverdale to ensure our children do not fall behind in trades training, and are well-equipped to take advantage of today’s, and the future’s, employment opportunities.
Additionally, and certainly a benefit to students and the community at large, our government invested significantly in the construction of Surrey’s new $30 million Surrey Central Library, which provides educational and entertainment resources for our entire community. This exceptional facility is part of Surrey’s grand plan to create a new city centre, complete with a new City Hall and huge civic square.
WE, in government, are proud of the accomplishments of Surrey and its citizens, and have been doing all we can to ensure they benefit from our investments.
Part of those benefits was the transfer of 70 acres of land in Surrey’s Green Timbers for parkland plus funding for all-weather artificial turf playing fields for sports use as part of our decision to promote physical activity for individuals of all ages. This will encourage not only a healthy lifestyle, but will provide worthwhile activity places for youth to discourage them from turning to crime and gang membership.
In Surrey last year, the provincial government invested more than $31 million to provide subsidized housing and rent supplements for more than 7,100 low-income individuals, seniors and families. We also opened Surrey’s Maxxine Wright Centre in support of women, and their children, at risk of homelessness and began construction on the YWCA Alder Gardens. We also built the Quibble Creek Health Centre and Phoenix Transition Housing Centre, for individuals at risk of homelessness with mental health and addiction issues.
ABOUT the only goal I set for myself when I entered provincial politics that wasn’t fully achieved was expanding SkyTrain and / or light rail throughout Surrey. It may not have been built during my tenure as an MLA, but that increase in rapid transit for Surrey is in the planning stages and will, I am certain, be a reality in the not too distant future.
It has been a tremendous honour and privilege to serve my constituents of Surrey Tynehead, and be an advocate for all residents of Surrey, for the past 12 years.
I will miss the opportunity to work for you directly in the Legislature of British Columbia, but I will continue to be a strong advocate for my City, for its residents, and for all of British Columbia in the coming years.
Thank you again for this great honour.