News Views: Same old on transportation

Mayors want their authority for TransLink restored.

The B.C. government has confirmed funding for transit improvements in Metro Vancouver.

It has done so to help secure funding for regional transportation improvements from the federal government.

The final portion is to come from taxpayers, as well, but in what form is up to Metro Vancouver mayors and TransLink.

The mayors have a new plan.

So the bargaining continues.

Residents defeated a referendum last year that would have seen a portion of the sales tax collected in the region to help pay for the proposed $7.5 billion in improvements over 10 years.

Maple Ridge residents topped the ‘no’ vote.

Some saw the referendum defeat as a protest or a lack of trust in how TransLink is run.

Mayors said prior to the referendum that there was no Plan B for funding the improvements, and that a defeat would set the plans back years.

Yet, a year later and one year before a provincial election, the B.C. Liberals are declaring a portion of funding for such improvements: $246 million over three years.

The federal government would provide $370 million, initially.

The region must now come up with the remaining 17 per cent.

The minister responsible for TransLink, Peter Fassbender, plans to discuss with the Mayors’ Council revenue mechanisms that could fund “their” share.

Their suggestions include raising fares by two per cent, selling surplus TransLink properties, charging a new regional development fee, and raising property taxes. They also want a portion of the gas tax the province collects, and authority restored to run TransLink.

The latter have been non-starters in the past.

What’s so different this time around?

An agreement is still needed in order to take advantage of the federal government’s funding offer.

So once again the province has put the onus on regional governments.

Nothing has changed, yet.

– The News