B.C.’s minister for TransLink is sounding a hopeful note when it comes to transit funding in advance of tomorrow’s federal budget.
“I’m quite optimistic,” says Peter Fassbender, adding that he has the sense MPs have heard the province’s interests loud and clear.
Big ticket federal funding is a key condition for moving ahead with the second phase of the region’s mayors’ ambitious 10-year-transportation plan.
“Suffice to say whatever the federal government is willing to commit, all of us will work together to take advantage of that. But we’ve heard notionally upwards of $2-billion, and again, until tomorrow we won’t know the exact figure,” Fassbender says.
Phase two of the plan includes Surrey Light Rail, a Broadway subway line, and the Pattullo Bridge replacement.
“Some of the work is already going on, the engineering work, the design work and all of that is part of the phase one funding. You know, in terms of the actual drilling down into those specific projects and getting shovels in the ground, it’s a little premature.”
Consultations for the Surrey LRT line and Broadway subway kicked off in January.
As for whether the province would open the door to boosting its own cash contribution in order to leverage a big federal payday, Fassbender wouldn’t commit either way.
“We have committed our one-third up to this date based on the projects that are there. Until we see the final figures from the federal government, it’s difficult to speculate,” he says.
Rival BC NDP has pledged to bump the province’s funding commitment to 40 per cent for transit projects.
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is expected to table the budget shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday.