Metro Vancouver mayors figure today’s federal budget has earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars for transit projects.
Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson says the good news is the federal government will now pay up to 50% of the bill for transit projects.
So what will the region’s share be?
“We are in talks with the province to work that out. They have said they would fund a third at this point. We have got to make sure what that is and whether they are willing to go up to the 40-percent, which is what they collect of our tax dollars. The region we have to figure out how we are going to fund what ever share is left from that.”
A little math puts the region’s share of transit projects costs at 17% at the moment, thought Robertson says he’s hopeful that could be flexible.
“In this budget it looks like about $370 million from the federal government is Metro Vancouver’s share of the transit dollars and that means between the province and the region we have to figure out the other 50%. We are in talks with the province to work that out.”
Not a cent more
But B.C.’s minister responsible for TransLink says the mayor of Vancouver has it wrong and the province won’t be picking up a cent more of its third share for transit projects.
Bare bones, Fassbender says the region is going to have to find a way to pay for its 17% of the total bill.
“That is correct. We need to work with them and our commitment is we are going to work with them. So from that perspective we are a willing partner in sitting down and looking at how the region can come up with its share.”
“I have been very clear with mayor Robertson and other mayors that the province’s one-third, that has been on the table for a few years now, continues to be that. Looking to the long term I know that mayor Robertson and some of the other mayors have suggested that, that change is something they would like. That does not mean that it is a commitment from the Province of British Columbia at all.”
He also says there is at the moment no flexibility over the legislated requirement that any new funding model requires a referendum.
However the mayor of Surrey and vice chair of the mayors council says there is still wiggle room for the region in the cost sharing.
“Maybe we can at least have a discussion on whether or not that can include life cycle costs of capital projects. That would shift slightly the formulation that might be on the table. There are lots of ways we can look at that and over the next several weeks and months I am sure that is what we will be doing.”
Hepner called the transit money in the federal budget a good downpayment to cover the bill for the mayors ten year transit plan.