“I am not prepared to change any legislation at this time.”
That is a ‘No” from the minister responsible to the mayors request he hand over complete control of Translink to them.
With no changes coming to how Translink is run, Peter Fassbender puts a lot of emphasis on funding, and the federal government coming to the table with big bucks.
As for legislation requiring a referendum for any new Translink funding model.
“We are reassessing everything as times change, so the bottom line here is we need to sit down, as I said, with the federal government to determine what their sequencing and their timing is and how we get there. The mayors in the region have to do the same thing. There are funding sources that are currently available and we need to look at that relative to how the federal government wants to proceed.”
Fassbender says the good news is the federal government wants to pay more than its one-third share.
But he admits it still means the region has to come up with some kind of funding.
“There are funding sources that are currently available and we need to look at that relative to how the federal government wants to proceed.”
Reporter “So to be clear you expect property taxes? That is the existing funding form that doesn’t require a vote.”
“It is very clear what is currently in the legislation. Property taxes are one of those elements.”
When pressed on how we fund the system Fassbender would only say we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
NDP sides with mayors
“Well I am inclined to side with the mayors.”
That, from the leader of the provincial NDP who says it’s time to return TransLink to the Metro mayors, calling the current governance model a failure.
John Horgan says it is also time to find a new funding formula for transit and transportation.
“The notion that the entire burden would be picked up by homeowners has been rejected. So we need to find new ways to fund the challenges that we face. I don’t think people who are standing waiting for a bus on Broadway or people who are on broken down SkyTrains care a whit about governance. What they do care about is an efficient transit and transportation network and they are not getting that right now.”
He says Translink could be funded by “floating a bond” and by raising revenues to meet the needs of the community.
Horgan says an NDP government, if elected in 2017, would scrap the legislated referendum requirement for new TransLink funding.
Metro Vancouver chair Greg Moore says local mayors are doing a good job running the region, so they should take over governance at TransLink.
“I don’t hear a lot of complaints from people about how the regional district is being run and operated.”
The board is asking for legislative changes that would give the mayors’ council control of transit policy.
Moore says it makes sense for the buck to stop with elected officials, as opposed to an unaccountable board.
“Around the world, how are transit authorities in metro regions governed? And every single one of them has an elected body, whether that’s a person or a group, controlling the policy and the budget.”
Moore says he knows the province might hesitate on the idea, so the regional board is also recommending joint planning sessions between mayors and TransLink.
“And meet at least four times a year, and have the provincial government a part of those meetings, so all of those three stakeholders are a part of those meetings.”
The recommendations come several months after the failure of the transit plebiscite, which would have given TransLink more tax dollars. Many considered the outcome a signal of the public’s distrust of the transit authority.
The chair of Metro Vancouver and mayor of Port Coquitlam also disagrees with the Translink minister.
Greg Moore says property tax is not just one element it is the only way to raise transit funding without a referendum.
Moore says a referendum is not the right way to determine a funding model.
“That doesn’t make sense. We need to look for a more equitable funding solution for Translink going forward and unfortunately that means we have to go through a referendum and we have gone through that experience and I don’t think the mayors want to go through that again.”
Moore says property tax does not reflect the level of service in each community, with some paying three times as much as other municipalities but recieving less service.