– Metro Vancouver board pushes for $450 million a year increase in TransLink funding

Georgia Straight

By Matthew Burrows

Metro Vancouver directors voted today (September 25) to push for the best-case TransLink funding scenario.

Burnaby councillor Sav Dhaliwal was the only politician who voted against Vancouver mayor and director Gregor Robertson’s motion.

Now the board will send the message to TransLink’s private board of directors and its mayors’ council that it should implement $450 million in annual funding above current levels—the most generous of the three options presented in TransLink’s 2010 10-Year Plan to address funding constraints at the regional transportation authority.

The Metro motion originated through its regional planning committee earlier this month. At the latest meeting at Metro headquarters in Burnaby, directors also expressed concerns over the first business-as-usual “base plan” funding scenario proposed, which would lead to “drastic cuts”, according to TransLink.

TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast was at the meeting, and said he wanted to avoid the potential “chaos” the base plan would unleash on transit riders across the region.

Robertson said at the meeting that significant consultation had taken place to get to the Metro consensus. He said it was important that directors “don’t fold tents now” and “remain united”. In response,

Corrigan said he understood why people would want to avoid cuts, but said the $450 million had to come from somewhere. The former B.C. Transit chair also cautioned that “there is a limit to what the taxpayer can expect”.

He said that, like with the discussions around the previous 10-year plan in 2004, there is a temptation to be overly optimistic on the accounting side. “We keep on supporting things; then we don’t know how to pay for them.”

Surrey councillor and director Linda Hepner moved an amendment, which passed, that—in the event funding is constrained—priority be given to the northeast sector and areas south of the Fraser.

Corrigan added his own amendment, which stated: “Without additional funding any 10-year plan cannot be successfully implemented.” Corrigan’s motion passed ahead of the main motion.

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