The minister responsible for TransLink announced a figure for the province’s one-third share for transit and transportation projects.
But in doing so, he’s triggered significant confusion.
Peter Fassbender says his government’s share for phase one of the ten year plan is $246-million.
“We were prepared to fund, fully one-third of the two major projects, namely Broadway and south of the Fraser in Surrey. What we have done is added another $130 million to fund the other projects in Phase One which we have not previously made that commitment to.”
Asked repeatedly if the province didn’t commit to pay a third of the entire mayor’s plan all along, Fassbender refused to budge, insisting his government’s previous pledge for one-third funding of transit and transportation was a specific promise.
“It was only for the two major projects, Broadway corridor and south of the Fraser. Our commitment now on phase one is to fully-fund one-third all of the projects the mayors will be bringing forward.”
Fassbender says now the province is at the table for all of the mayor’s plan.
He wouldn’t commit to a final figure for his government’s third share over the entire ten year plan.
The NDP’s Translink critic David Eby says he is astounded by what he heard from the minister.
“He goes up today and says he’s committing to something that he committed to months ago and his government actually committed to during the referendum process. It’s no wonder to me the mayors must be incredibly frustrated and we’re going backwards not forwards while the federal government is standing at the border of British Columbia with a bag of infrastructure money. They want to spend money on transit in our region, and the province can’t get its act together.”
Eby says provincial government is wasting time with photo op re-announcements instead of getting to work.
Mayors want clarity
Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson wants to see something in writing.
“It was really not clear exactly what the province is putting on the table. We’re waiting for a written proposal from the province and something that matches the federal government’s advance, which is a 50 per cent cocommitment to the entire ten year plan. Mayors have made that commitment a month ago that we’re willing to fund our fair share of the plan.”
Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi has asked the province and mayors to come to phase one agreements as soon as possible to unleash federal funding.