– Mayors’ Council can’t approve Evergreen Line

The Straight

Vancouver BC

By Charlie Smith

When the Mayors’ Council meets later this month to recommend a funding option to the TransLink board, it won’t have the choice of choosing a package that includes the Evergreen Line to Coquitlam.

In an interview with the Georgia Straight after the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini said the TransLink board hasn’t put a $450-million-per-year funding increase before the Mayors’ Council for consideration.

This option–referred to as On Track to a Sustainable Region (expansion program)–is the only one that includes funding for the Evergreen Line.

“It’s an illegal option,” Trasolini said.

He said that’s because the province has jurisdiction over necessary revenue sources to fund this option, which could include imposing tolls on bridges into Vancouver.

The province hasn’t indicated that it’s willing to allow TransLink to raise money this way, so TransLink hasn’t put the $450-million-per-year option forward for the mayors’ consideration.

Trasolini said that Transportation Minister Shirley Bond has said that the Evergreen Line is still a priority for the province.

“In reality, what we have is a dilemma here,” Trasolini commented. “We hear the commitment from the provincial government, but the TransLink board did not put that in front of the council of mayors.”

He added that he has been suggesting for weeks that Bond meet with the mayor’s council. “The whole council of mayors is united on this,” Trasolini said. “And the minister has not come to the table, which is puzzling to me.”

As a result, Trasolini said the mayors’ council can only look at a Funding Stabilization plan, which would require an additional $130 million per year, or the On Track to a Sustainable Region (maintenance and upgrade program), which would require an additional $275 million per year.

Another option is called “drastic cuts”, which would maintain funding at current levels. Because of costs associated with the Canada Line and other obligations, maintaining status quo funding would result in a 40-percent cut in service hours on the bus system..

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