– West Van warns TransLink it wants more bang for its buck

North Shore Outlook

By Rebecca Aldous

West Vancouver’s paying a lot for a little, council told TransLink as the authority tried to muster up support to cover its $130-million shortfall.

This year, the district is handing the regional transit authority close to $9 million, up $400,000 in 11 years, Coun. Shannon Walker said on Monday.

As it stands, the average West Van property owner pays $500 in property taxes to TransLink, double the fee of majority of municipalities, she noted.

On Oct. 23, Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones will vote, along with other Lower Mainland mayors, on a option for TransLink’s 2010 10-year strategic plan.

To maintain “status quo,” but still requiring 50 per cent cycling facility maintenance funding cuts, the regional transit authority needs an additional $130 million, TransLink’s director of strategic planning and policy Brian Mills told council at a presentation on Monday night.

To continue along with TransLink’s sustainable region plan, which would strengthen existing services and lay ground work for future developments, $275 million is requested.

Municipalities can also vote to back TransLink’s regional expansion plan, which includes the construction of the Evergreen line, for an additional $450 million.

If none of the options suffice, mayors can elect to give TransLink no additional funding, forcing it to cut 40 per cent of its service.

“For my part I think we cannot abandon people who rely on the system,” Goldsmith-Jones said, noting she’s reluctantly in favour of the $130 million request.

Like Goldsmith-Jones, Coun. Bill Soprovich was annoyed municipalities are scrambling to find cash for TransLink, when years ago the authority forecasted its expenditures didn’t match its revenue, he said. A report by the regional transportation commissioner stated TransLink must find ways to bridge the gulf between system planning and system financing to ensure TransLink doesn’t live beyond its means, Soprovich noted.

Thinking ahead, TransLink is examining new funding avenues, Mills said. Its current revenue sources, defined by legislature, are derived through transit fares, a hydro levy, real estate, fuel taxes, advertising, parking sales tax and funds from the provincial and federal government. A new option the authority’s examining is a transportation improvement fee, which would place a $65 to $165 bill on vehicles based on their fuel efficiency, or a $120 flat rate.


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