TransLink’s CEO says all sides are close to finding a way to fund a 10 year transportation plan.
Speaking to the Surrey Board of Trade Kevin Desmond says conversations continue and he says at some point the Province and Mayors’ Council will have a formal meeting.
When asked where things stand right now Desmond says “we’re close, I think. I think there’s a fair amount of agreement between the province and the Mayors’ and the Federal Government.”
“So getting the last agreements, the last decisions on how to finance the entire plan. That’s always the hardest part is the last bits. So that dialogue is happening.”
Desmond says he’s optimistic a deal will get done because there is just too much at stake.
The three levels of government have been sparring over how to contribute the $750-million a year plan that would bring in a Broadway subway line and light rail to Surrey.
Miles more than inches
But the Mayors’ Council is suggesting there may be a ways to go yet.
New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote says he’s optimistic discussions will eventually lead to an agreement but disagrees with TransLink’s CEO Kevin Desmond that a deal could hit the table anytime soon.
“There definitely is active discussion happening between the provincial government and the Mayors Council but I would say it’s probably premature to say that we are close to an agreement.”
Cote says he doesn’t believe the mayors’ council or the province are close to announcing a plan of action.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore says it’s a waiting game, and council is waiting for the province to make a move.
“We know that the province, the staff at the provincial government is working with TransLink’s staff to get more information regarding the updated costs regarding the updates costs for the mayors 10 year vision but we haven’t actually received anything official from the Minister of Transportation to the TransLink’s mayor’s council.”
On Desmond’s comments of a formal meeting soon taking place, Moore says the Mayor’s council was hoping for it last week when it last met.
He says the federal government is good to go, the Mayor’s Council has a plan, now it’s the province’s turn to put something in writing.
Yesterday, it emerged that TransLink Minister Peter Fassbender had yet to meet with municipal leaders to resolve the funding impasse.
A few weeks prior to that, he announced the province would be putting up $246-million for the province’s share of first phase of the Mayors’ 10 year plan, insisting prior funding commitments had only applied to Surrey light rail and the Broadway subway.
Critics argue the province had always pledged to fund a full third of the Mayors’ plan.
With the feds now picking up 50% of the tab, Metro Vancouver is on the hook for 17% of funding for the project.
The mayors are looking to raise that cash, about $5-billion, through a series of new measures
Metro Vancouver contributions from:
- a one-time, two per cent transit fare increase in 2018,
- selling off surplus TransLink properties,
- a region-wide three dollar per household increase to property taxes,
- a new Regional Development Cost Charge for Transit,
- a portion of the region’s Gas Tax Fund,
- introduction of regional mobility pricing by 2021 to support the expansion and improvement of road and bridge infrastructure,
- land in kind from Vancouver and Surrey to help offset costs for major projects like the Broadway Subway and Surrey Light Rail..