New funding for Mayors’ Transit Plan


Mayors look to fare increases and TransLink overhaul

By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor

The promise of potential funding from the federal government has Metro Vancouver’s mayors scrambling to bring in their share of the bill that will eventually fund the Mayors’ Council Transit Plan.

In order to qualify for the first phase of federal funding, municipal and provincial governments must work together to provide their share of the funding, with a minimum of 17 per cent to be contributed by TransLink.

Municipalities of the Lower Mainland are looking towards the provincial government to regain control over TransLink by the end of the year, which will increase municipal funding for transportation significantly. While the Mayors’ Council currently must approve all funding changes regarding TransLink, much of the control still remains the responsibility of the provincial government, especially since 2007.

The most immediate option of funding available to Metro municipalities is the upcoming increase in TransLink fares, as the costs of utilizing public transit will increase by two per cent in 2018.

Road pricing, where drivers are charged a fee to travel through specific areas during peak hours, is another option which may potentially be implemented as early as 2022.

Other options include the selling of up to $100 million worth of TransLink properties by Metro municipalities, and an increase in property taxes of three or four per cent per household.

The variety of options has led to mixed reviews amongst the mayors as to which one will work best.

“We’ve got a plan and we need to invest in that urgently,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to CTV News.

However, mayors from other Metro municipalities have showed concern for some of the options brought forth.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson voiced concern to the Vancouver Sun in regards to property taxes, and warned her colleagues to not be too lenient on the tax as a major funding option.

Meanwhile, Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read explained to the Vancouver Sun that increasing the fares has a negative impact on those who are one or two zones away from Vancouver, and that it wasn’t until this past year that ridership had returned to normal levels after the last increase.

These debates among mayors have been common, especially since 2015’s failed plebiscite. New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote has grown impatient with the deliberation, warning the council that indecision may lead to a missed opportunity for federal funding, according to the Vancouver Sun.