They aren’t candidates in the spring election, but that isn’t stopping Metro Vancouver mayors from putting together an election platform.
With the May 9 vote looming, the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council is looking to make transit and transportation a central campaign issue.
The Council is launching a public outreach campaign dubbed “#CureCongestion” aiming to and educate voters about the 10-year vision for Metro Vancouver transit and transportation, while putting pressure on provincial politicians.
On that note, the campaign includes a list of actions the mayors say must be set in motion by next fall in order to ensure the plan is on track.
Much of that includes coming up with cash: matching federal funding for the Broadway Subway and Surrey LRT, funding a third of the Pattullo Bridge replacement, and putting up $360-million for SkyTrain upgrades.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says mayors need clear, detailed commitments from B.C.’s political parties, before the election, on how they plan to solve transit overcrowding.
“Well, the mayors have committed to our portion of Phase One. When you actually add up the cost of operating the system, we here in the region end up contributing the majority of the funding; more than the provincial and federal partners. And that’s why, you know, we will come through on our funding. We have to come through with our funding. We’re committed to that. We need to be sure the provincial parties are all committing to being funders of this plan.”
The mayors are also looking to sort out their own long-term funding problems, calling on the winner of the election to sign off on a “development cost charge” that would allow Metro Vancouver municipalities to fully pay their part of Phase One of the plan.
In addition, the Council has distributed a questionnaire to the major political parties in a bid to pin down their positions on transit issues.
The seven-question form asks the parties where they stand on funding, clearing congestion, and HandyDART service among other issues.
Just last week the BC Liberal government of Christy Clark announced it was increasing its contribution from 33 per cent to 40 per cent, a week after BC NDP leader John Horgan announced the same thing if he’s elected premier.
Last month’s federal budget also saw the Trudeau government commit $2.2-billion to regional transit funding.
But while much of today’s announcement focuses on funding questions at a provincial level – left unanswered remains how Metro Vancouver plans to put together its own share of the cash for Phase Two of the plan.
A work in progress
Meanwhile, the Minister responsible for TransLink says there’s still a ways to go in terms of funding all the projects in the so-called “ten-year vision for transit and transportation.”
Peter Fassbender says in spite of last week’s transit funding announcement by the province, he’s not surprised by the campaign.
“More work in the future, absolutely and we’re going to work together and help the mayors to come up with their share of the local funding as well.”
The mayors say the region needs the next provincial government to work with the mayor’s council to complete the “entire” ten-year vision.
With files from Janet Brown