Metro Vancouver Transit Funding’s Ongoing Saga – May 2016

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Okay, let’s start by looking at some of the numbers being bandied about in the news.

First off. There’s the one constant in this picture. Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals have promised to pay for 50% of the funds for infrastructure projects across the country.

Here’s what the other two levels of government have offered.

The BC provincial government:

  • $246 million over next 3 years
  • funds only the first phase of the Mayor’s 10-year transportation plan
    • $50 million short of what the mayors hoped for
    • That leaves the second phase of the Mayor’s 10-year plan completed unfunded

If the BC government does not fund the second phase of the Mayor’s 10-year plan, then that leaves the really big money projects of the Broadway subway and the Surrey LRT on the drawing board only.

TransLink and the Metro Vancouver mayors:

  • 2% fare increase in 2018 (up to $550 million)
  • selling off properties (worth $100 million)
  • $3 increase in property taxes (worth $340 million)
  • a new regional development levy (expect $15-20 million per year)
    • Such a levy could take up to 2 years to even put in place
  • land in kind from Vancouver and Surrey to offset the costs of building the Broadway subway and Surrey LRT
    • in other words, Vancouver and Surrey is willing give land away for the project to lessen the costs of acquiring land to build these projects
  • a comprehensive road and bridge tolling system
    • The plan is to start this new tolling system in 2021
    • This plan may not come to fruition since the BC government has a policy of only tolling new infrastructure only.
    • So the BC government could potentially shut the door on this option
  • The Mayors are proposing new funding sources:
    • vehicle levy
    • regional carbon tax
    • (Both options have been quashed by the current and past BC governments.  Don’t hold your breath on these options.)

It’s sad to see that Metro Vancouver is still facing a stand-off between the provincial and local governments with respect to funding important infrastructure. The province only seems interested in writing cheques for big road infrastructure projects like the finished Port Mann Bridge and the planned Massey Tunnel replacement bridge. Transit is playing second-fiddle to road and highway projects. In this day and age, it’s baffling that the BC government wants to build bigger and wider roads when even our new bridges, the Port Mann and Golden Ears, are severely underused (mainly because of tolls).

Transit and aging spans, like the Patullo Bridge, are bursting at their britches, but the province is not willing to budge from the old, and very arbitrary, funding formula of only paying for one-third of any transit infrastructure. If the BC government applied the same funding formula to all infrastructure in the province, there would be no new bridges, no new hospitals, no new schools, no new highway upgrades, no new ferries, and so on. So why does transit have to fall under this arbitrary funding formula?

News sources for the information above:

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