Transportation Minister Mary Polak and NDP transportation critic Harry Bains.

Transportation Minister Mary Polak and NDP transportation critic Harry Bains.

Polak, Bains both set to talk TransLink reform with mayors

Next provincial government expected to broaden role of Metro Vancouver elected reps

Transportation Minister Mary Polak is pledging ongoing meetings with Metro Vancouver mayors to craft reforms to TransLink’s governance system following the release of a review of possible options.

She said she has already acknowledged the need for greater accountability and a bigger role for Metro Vancouver mayors.

“You need to have elected representation for a body that is going to levy taxes and fees,” Polak said.

“There has to be a democratically elected body that’s governing that. How do you do that appropriately? I don’t think we’ve yet found the perfect answer anywhere.”

Putting TransLink under the auspices of Metro Vancouver may not necessarily be ideal, she said, noting her Township of Langley constituents regularly complain about how they’re served by the regional district.

Polak said she doesn’t have a preferred model in mind, adding she doesn’t want to pre-judge discussions to come with the mayors.

The province had previously offered the mayors’ council chair and vice-chair two seats on the TransLink board of directors. Mayors rejected that offer of reform as inadequate.

“Neither side has locked itself into a position,” Polak said. “I’ve attempted to reopen the discussion… I feel we’re making progress.”

She rejected suggestions the province’s previous restructuring of TransLink and shift to an appointed board in 2008 was a mistake.

“With previous iterations of TransLink there were incredible difficulties, particularly with managing some of the finances,” she said. “We’re back to look at how can we make this better. We just want to see what works.”

The NDP have repeatedly promised to put elected local representatives back in charge of TransLink.

Transportation critic Harry Bains said an NDP government would also first consult mayors before deciding on a new model.

“We need to restore accountability by bringing back locally elected mayors and councillors and making them responsible for making the policy,” he said. “The current governance model doesn’t work. Mayors feel that they are sidelined and this report confirms that.”