– Mayors in no-win position over TransLink: Trasolini

ED. Plus the province has yet to release the TransLink funding/management report to the Mayor’s Council… making it even more difficult to make rational, informed decisions regarding TransLink’s 10-year operating plan. RELATED STORY: Mayors still in dark on TransLink review findings as vote looms

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Tri-city News

By Diane Strandberg

Port Moody’s mayor says he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to voting on TransLink’s 10-year operating plan.

And Joe Trasolini says he’s no clearer on what’s the best decision to make after meeting with residents Wednesday night.

Trasolini said he and TransLink’s council of mayors are expected to choose between two unpalatable funding options:

• one with no extra funding that would set TransLink back 10 years and result in devastating cuts, and possibly even the loss of community shuttle services on PoMo’s north shore;

• another that will allow for modest improvements.

And neither includes funding for building the Evergreen Line and the Murray-Clarke connector, two of Port Moody’s priorities.

Trasolini said he doesn’t agree with some mayors who think the mayor’s council should send a message to the province by voting against $130 million in supplemental funding on Oct. 23.

“We are talking about funding that needs to come from TransLink and that’s what we’re concerned about,” Trasolini said, noting it will be a year before the mayors can vote again on extra funding for the transportation authority.

He said approximately 35 people turned out to a meeting Wednesday to talk about TransLink’s funding predicament but there was no clear consensus on how he should vote next week.

He’ll be among a contingent of mayors who will meet with Shirley Bond, the minister of transportation and infrastructure, on Monday to talk about a provincial review of TransLink that was supposed to be finished in September but hasn’t been made public.

Trasolini said the question he will ask is how TransLink is supposed to come up with its $400 million share of the $1.4 billion Evergreen Line without proper funding.

The mayors and TransLink are under pressure from Victoria to find a way to pass a plan that allows construction and operation of the Evergreen Line to the Tri-Cities. TransLink has maintained that it cannot afford to run the new line without a much more ambitious expansion and funding plan than the options currently before the mayors.

It’s expected they’ll either choose a $130-million annual funding increase, financed through higher fares and a three-cent gas tax hike, or opt to limit TransLink to its current revenue sources, triggering drastic cuts.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, chair of the mayor’s council, said the region needs a much more intensive plan — approaching $450 million a year — funded by new sources such as road pricing that will have to be okayed by Victoria in order to expand transit services and maintain liveability.

She called the meeting with Bond critical.

“We’re all at a crossroads here,” Watts said. “A lot rides on the meeting between the mayors’ council and the minister. We’re hopeful we’re going to come out of that meeting moving forward.”

— with files from Jeff Nagel

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

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