There’s a lot of infrastructure talk on the table today after the Metro Vancouver mayors met collectively with Armjit Sohi to discuss future plans.
New Westminster mayor Jonathan Cote says one thing he knows for sure is that another referendum to raise necessary funds won’t work.
Frankly I don’t think it’s going to allow us to move forward quickly enough to take advantage of the opportunity that’s going to present this region here. If we wait another two plus years to set up another referendum campaign, the federal government is going to be looking elsewhere. Looking to the Toronto’s, looking to the Montreal’s, looking to Calgary’s transit plans while we sit here stuck in traffic.
Difficult discussion is inevitable moving forward
With the federal government pitching in 50 per cent of funding to major projects and the provincial government taking on one-third, that leaves a sizable chunk of 17 per cent funding needed for advancements in infrastructure, money that is left up to the municipalities to raise. Cotes says accounting for these funds will require some serious negotiation that will prove worth it in the end.
I think there’s going to have to be some difficult discussion between the mayors, but also with the provincial government. To me, I can’t see how the mayors of the region and the provincial government are going to sit by with billions of dollars of federal money opportunities and not, basically, come together at the table and figure out a solution to our funding challenges.
So where’s that 17% coming from?
Cotes is optimistic about the challenge ahead of him and the other Metro mayors, partially because he says the amount of money needed is less than it was last year. He supports local taxes, and feels like taxpayers will too if it means meaningful change to their transit.
Whether we’re talking about a vehicle levy, a portion of the carbon tax, all those types of things, we’re open to having that conversation to say ‘what is the best fit here?’ The reality is the funding is a lot less than we needed even a year ago at this point in time, so it’s not as dramatic of a hit to local taxpayers here. And to me, I think the residents of Metro Vancouver, when they see those lower numbers, will be much more open to those local funding options if it means that we’re going to see billions of dollars invested of federal money into our transit.