The mayor of Surrey and the head of the TransLink Mayors' Council have different characterizations of the SkyTrain extension to Langley City, with a completion date now set for 2028.
"The reports of the Surrey Langley SkyTrain being delayed is disconcerting," said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum.
"The time of talk and promises must come to an end. What we need now is the political will by all levels of government to get this long-talked-about project off the drawing board and to get shovels into the ground."
TransLink gave the 2028 completion goal in an update for its board of directors, which is meeting Wednesday for the first time since the federal government committed the money necessary to complete the project.
"I think this is actually just a much more realistic timeline," said Mayors' Council chair and New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote.
"The [reality] is that this project is much different than was originally anticipated three years ago, which is a much larger and better transportation project for south of the Fraser River."
The full plan is estimated to cost $3.94 billion.
In 2019, TransLink had planned for the extension to be built in two phases, with the first part a seven-kilometre, four station extension to 166th Street in Surrey's Fleetwood neighbourhood, which would cost $1.6 billion and be completed by 2025.
The reason for the staggered approach was a lack of funds from the provincial and federal governments, which had originally only committed to a light rail network in Surrey, which was scrapped after McCallum's election.
But in the past three years, planning for the project was delayed due to the pandemic, which was followed by the provincial government taking over project delivery from TransLink later in 2020.
That was followed by the federal government's $1.3 billion funding announcement in July — all of which, said Cote, contributed to a longer timeline for a larger project.
"I think we are still looking at approving an investment plan early in 2022. And I think that will be the final commitment to get this project fully financed."
Langley City Coun. Nathan Pachal agreed the longer timeline made sense and was enthused that the new project also considers a SkyTrain car operation and maintenance centre for Langley City.
"It's better for the whole region," he said.
"Having a potential operation and maintenance centre will make sure that our systems are more resilient when single points of failures occur."