SIMPSON: Hey politicians, stop the masquerade – your project is actually old news

Politicians love getting the biggest bang for their buck when it comes to making announcements, especially in election years.

Vivienne King, president of SkyTrain and West Coast Express, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond, Surrey Liberal MLA Peter Fassbender, minister responsible for TransLink, Randeep Sarai, Liberal MP for Surrey Centre, and Surrey City Councillor Dave Woods unveil upgrade plans for Surrey Central SkyTrain Station.

If you’re new to Surrey, it’s understandable if you believed Friday’s big “announcement” about the expansion of Surrey Central SkyTrain station was news.

Heck, even most of the media reported it as such.

But despite the fact our politicians sold it as a big “announcement” – and despite the fact we all just lapped it up, it’s really just old news being regurgitated for political gain.

It’s no secret that this happens. Politicians love getting the biggest bang for their buck when it comes to making announcements, especially in election years.

(Don’t even get me started on Surrey’s courthouse expansion – the newsroom counted at least four press releases announcing that project, going back to 2013.)

It’s common practise to take advantage of voters’ short memories and masquerade “project announcements” as something new and exciting, when, in fact, the cat has been out of the bag for quite some time.

Surrey Central SkyTrain station’s facelift is a good example.

It’s old news. In fact, we first told you about it on our website on Dec. 15, 2015 – more than a year ago.

CLICK HERE for our original story.

Although the budget had not yet been finalized back then, plenty of details were offered.

“A new two-storey station house is part of the plan, which totals nearly 10,000 square feet, and is set to include exposed wood, metal panelling and accent colours in a bright green to “infuse warmth” into the station,” we reported, also taking note of the timeline.

“TransLink hopes to begin construction next May.”

Remember that.

Then, five months later, in June 2016, we wrote about the expansion project yet again.

Artists were being sought to paint a mural that was to “improve the experience” of Surrey Central Station while it was supposed to be under construction last fall.

“A giant mural should make Surrey Central SkyTrain station a lot nicer to look at during renovation work scheduled to start this fall,” our story reported.

Notice the construction date changed yet again?

That brings us to Friday, and all the smiling politicians looking to squeeze every last ounce of political gain out of this project (see photo above).

(For the record, they are: Peter Fassbender, minister responsible for TransLink; Vivienne King, president of SkyTrain and West Coast Express; Randeep Sarai, Liberal MP for Surrey Centre; councillor Dave Woods and TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond).

“We look forward to the shovels in the ground this spring and we’re going to see a brand new station come out of the ground as a result,” said Fassbender.

Wait. Did he say spring?

He did. In fact, Friday’s “announcement” revealed work will begin in April.

We’ll see.

To be fair, Friday’s big “announcement” wasn’t a completely useless exercise. We learned upgrades would cost $25 million. The province is providing $6.9 million, the federal government $3.2 million through the Building Canada Fund, and TransLink the rest.

Seems to me, that should have been the “announcement.”

Rather than rehash old project announcements to score points in front of cameras during an election year, why not just simply tell people that budget details have been finalized?

Yeah, I know…

Where’s the fun in that?

Beau Simpson is the editor of the Now. He can be reached at beau.simpson@thenownewspaper.com

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