If transit SoF is all about shaping growth, then the last thing we should be doing is building a line along Fraser Hwy.
That's one of the problems with the transit mindset South of the Fraser: it is all about shaping growth. Don't get me wrong, shaping growth will be a good thing. We're going to need it. However, shaping growth is not the only thing the South of Fraser needs from rapid transit. There also needs to be a transportation benefit, and a better incentive for using transit altogether: transit needs to be fast, convenient, and reliable. There will be consequences to letting the fastest automobile use growth rate in Metro Van simply grow without enough control,
But, I'm not really convinced that the planners and decision makers have it right when it comes to growth shaping either. I actually don't think that at-grade Light Rail on its own is going to do it. See, the problem with the planning going on at city hall is that Light Rail is believed to be better for growth shaping because it is easier to build more stations (and thus, there are more development nodes) for it. Obvs, you could also build more rail transit to other corridors at a lower capital cost. I think that's not the correct way to be looking at this, and I think that for the very simple reason that the planners are ignoring the fact that we are part of a bigger region: Surrey will be facing lots of competition from the several other locations in Metro Vancouver that are near good rapid transit and prime for development.
There's a reason so many people and families are coming into the South of Fraser today: affordable housing and land value. Building rapid transit of any alignment or technology removes that incentive in the areas around it - and with rises in land value come higher developer risk and a weaker market, and without the incentives and benefits to offset that (such as strong transportation, a strong community, and good safety), people looking for or looking to develop urban transit-oriented development might simply turn away from Surrey, because the premium for such a similar home north of Fraser might become too small to even matter - leaving sprawl to continue, unhampered, like it currently is.
Think of it this way: you have a choice between buying or developing land on a Fraser Highway LRT in Fleetwood, or you could buy/develop near Royal Oak Station in Burnaby (and this would also be alongside developments that have already come up). Royal Oak has the Expo Line, Fleetwood has the Fraser LRT; they're different levels of transit with different ridership, but in both areas, land value has risen to similar levels. Whether you're a buyer, renter or developer, you will probably be tempted to choose the Royal Oak area so long as space is available - because Surrey will still have far less incentives in other areas: the North of Fraser will still be the major market for jobs, and will still have more of the attractions, activity centres, and institutions (i.e. post secondary).
Think of why Surrey City Centre has not seen any significant, recurring development after 19-23 years of SkyTrain until the past 5 or so years, while growth has pretty much exploded in Burnaby in Metrotown and Brentwood - and, more recently, in Richmond. With Light Rail Transit, even with it going all across the city, it will take years and years before Surrey even starts to see the land use benefits, because there will be so much better investment opportunities at the same price North of Fraser with our new rapid transit investments like the Canada Line, Evergreen Line and Broadway subway. Only when those opportunities run low does the rest of Surrey start to become a viable solution.
By then, it will be too late. Without the better transit speed, frequency and reliability, and revenue (to further improve bus service) to attract ridership in spite of any land use (and the land use to help drive it in spite of competitivity as well - this land use could also be a result of the former), roads in Surrey will be filled with cars and the whole city will be pretty messy in many communities. Especially if Surrey really ends up building more LRT stations than are planned (currently, LRT & RRT have same station locations), because more stations will slow down commutes. Safety concern will pretty much have to be eliminated to make up for that (and who knows if that will happen), and the city will need to have boosted investment in other services to make at least some improvements in the community in the ways transit could not.
And, people and developers looking at Metro Vancouver will once again have the choice of paying lots for an awesome area, or peanuts for a shitty area. Back to square one.