Metro Vancouver mayors have come up with their plan to scrape together dollars so they can get some of the dollars being dangled by the federal government, but the bargaining with the B.C. government will continue.
The Mayors Council on Regional Transportation says TransLink can pay its share of the $7.5 billion 10-year regional transportation plan by raising fares by two per cent, selling surplus TransLink properties, charging a new regional development fee, and raising property taxes throughout Metro Vancouver by about $3 per home.
The mayors also propose two more controversial funding sources – charging motorists based on trip lengths, as well as siphoning off some of the money from gasoline taxes.
The offers came the same morning that the provincial government announced it would chip in $246 million over three years for TransLink.
That money builds upon the federal government’s commitment of $370 million to transit improvements, representing 50 per cent of the cost of the plan, said a release from Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Peter Fassbender.
Fassbender, though, said talks will go on with the Mayor’s Council to agree on other ways that TransLink can pay its share.
But he hinted that he supports an extra fee for developers who build near transit, and thus profit from the public infrastructure.
“We believe public transit investment leads to increased property values near stations and that the public should share in the rise in property values through increased support for transit and affordable housing options,” said Fassbender.
“This is an idea worth supporting and we will work closely with regional leaders and others on how we can develop better transit and better housing options right across Metro Vancouver.”
TransLink, though, is asking for more from the provincial government, such as the return of $50 million from the provincial carbon tax subsidy that goes to homes outside Metro Vancouver.
It also wants support for the regional mobility pricing and for the mayors to be restored their authority to run TransLink.
“Regional mayors have embraced this approach and it’s time to hear if the province is ready to work with us to secure these time-limited federal dollars for the 10-year plan,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner in a release.
The Mayor’s Council 10-year regional transportation plan calls for a subway along Broadway, 27 kilometres of light rail in Surrey and more Express bus service, along with a 27 per cent increase in West Coast Express service.
A referendum last year defeated a proposed half-per-cent hike in the provincial sales tax that would have paid for the plan.
An agreement is needed in order to take advantage of the federal government’s offer to pay for half of the 10-year regional transportation plan, leaving the provincial government to cover 33 per cent and TransLink, the remaining 17 per cent.