Rapid transit extensions including a SkyTrain subway in Vancouver along Broadway and light rail lines in Surrey are among the big projects under the Metro Vancouver mayors' plan.

NDP promises to boost transit cost sharing if elected

Leader John Horgan says jump to 40 per cent from one-third B.C. share would break transportation funding gridlock

The B.C. NDP is promising to break the gridlock over Metro Vancouver transit expansion if it wins next spring’s provincial election by boosting the province’s traditional one-third share of capital funding for new projects to 40 per cent.

A 40 per cent provincial share, coupled with the federal government’s commitment to contribute half of major transit capital projects, would greatly reduce the required regional contribution to just 10 per cent of capital, plus operating costs.

Metro Vancouver mayors have pressed the BC Liberal government to also commit to a higher provincial share, but the Christy Clark government has not yet agreed, nor has it revoked its legislated requirement for a new referendum on any new transit funding source in the region.

“We’re stepping up while the B.C. Liberal government continues to stall,” NDP leader John Horgan said Thursday.

“Instead of leading the way, Christy Clark has continually stood in the way. The premier forced an expensive, made-to-fail referendum on voters, she picked fights with Lower Mainland mayors over funding, and she has stalled and dithered and blocked the way forward for years now.”

A 10 per cent regional requirement would be much smaller than the previous one-third burden, which mayors wanted to cover with a 0.5 per cent regional sales tax that would have generated $250 million a year, had it not been defeated by voters a year ago.

Metro Vancouver mayors earlier this year, anticipating a 17 per cent regional share, proposed enabling TransLink to raise an extra one per cent every year from property tax payers, a $50 million new funding source enabled by the province, as well as a new system of regional development cost charges and another transit fare increase.

The funding gap for TransLink has recently narrowed further since SkyTrain faregates closed. Officials say fare evasion is down and fare revenue is up by at least $25 million a year.

Horgan said the NDP supports the mayors’ council vision for transit.

“We’re going to work together to break the gridlock on our roads, fight climate change, and create thousands of good jobs as we move ahead.”

The NDP also reiterated past promises to put area mayors back fully in charge of TransLink, which is currently overseen by an appointed professional board of directors that includes the chair and vice-chair of the mayors’ council.

The NDP pledge for a higher provincial share of costs drew praise from environmental and labour groups that were part of the ‘Yes’ coalition in last year’s referendum.

“Investing in transit is a political home run for any party hoping to win the election,” said Ian Bruce, science and policy director of the David Suzuki Foundation. “Public transit bolsters the economy, provides people with better access to jobs and social services, improves public health by bettering air quality, and reduces carbon emissions and traffic.”

Canadian Taxpayers Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman questioned whether the extra money for TransLink projects would come at the expense of other transit investments outside of Metro Vancouver.

“All this money comes from somewhere,” he said. “The proof will be in the pudding – where does the NDP expect to get this additonal revenue from?”

Bateman said there is no reason to hold another referendum so long as Metro mayors are willing to raise TransLink property taxes to make up the gap.

Mayors have previously discussed options like creating an annual vehicle levy, but property tax is an existing source that would not trigger a new referendum.

Just Posted

Where are Delta’s missing salmon?

Cougar Creek is seeing lower-than-usual returns of spawning salmon. The Blob may be the reason.

UPDATE: Suspect of interest ID’d after man shot near Surrey school

Police don’t know what motive was in shooting near Surrey-Delta border

VIDEO: MP details what gang and housing announcements mean for Surrey

Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai speaks about recent funding commitments

Double graves coming to Surrey civic cemeteries for the first time

Surrey council approves cemetery bylaw changes, which will also allow upright headstones

COLUMN: Cannabis legalization brings challenges for Canadian police

Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord talks about the challenges police face as pot becomes legal

VIDEO: ‘Glow Christmas’ opens for the holiday season

Massive Langley light show features 500,000 lights

Last days for notorious homeless camp in Chilliwack River Valley

One local sports fisher frustrated by slow response from police and all levels of government

Fuel spill follows train derailment near Hell’s Gate

Empty grain train jumped the track after a landslide

BC Ferries vehicle traffic last summer was best ever

CEO says positive results reduce future pressure on fares

Dead rats on doorstep greets Summerland mayor

Two rodents have been delivered to Peter Waterman’s doorstep

False killer whale ‘Chester’ dies at Vancouver Aquarium

He was found stranded near Tofino in July 2014 and only had a 10 per cent chance of making it at the time

Cougar confronts man in Clearwater

Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Most Read