Mayors optimistic as feds ready grants

Transit, sewage upgrades among regional requests, but may face provincial competition for cash for ferries, new bridge

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner is among the mayors who met with the prime minister and federal ministers last week to make their case for infrastructure grants.

Metro Vancouver mayors are hopeful the federal government will contribute more than the usual one third for public transit and other municipal infrastructure projects when new infrastructure grants roll out.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner was among the mayors who met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other cabinet ministers in a series of sessions last Thursday and Friday.

“I’m optimistic that the formula could look different,” Hepner said. “The hope would be that it would certainly go beyond one third and perhaps go as high as one half.”

The new Liberal government intends to dole out $60 billion over 10 years split between public transit, green and affordable housing initiatives.

A more generous federal share for transit could reduce the amount of money that would have to be raised locally and make it easier for mayors to find an acceptable funding solution for TransLink after last summer’s failed referendum on a regional sales tax.

Hepner said there was a strong spirit of collaboration between mayors and federal ministers, including Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, who singled out Surrey’s light rail project as one Ottawa supports.

“They know they can’t achieve their climate goals without the aggressive work of cities and much of that is around mass transit,” Hepner said. “There was a real sense we’re partners at the table.”

Metro mayors are also warily watching the provincial government lobby Ottawa for its priorities, including federal funding for new ferries and for the planned Massey Bridge.

It’s unclear whether success in getting federal funds for those might come at a cost of money available for public transit and Metro Vancouver’s top priority – the Lions Gate sewage treatment plant upgrade.

“I’m hoping they’re not at loggerheads,” Hepner said of municipal and provincial requests. “I’m optimistic that this government sees there’s a need for both.”

Metro Vancouver board chair and Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore said he would prefer to see the province and municipal leaders jointly negotiate with Ottawa, rather than in separate camps.

“We should all be at that table together so we can look at it in a comprehensive manner.”

Moore said a revised funding formula could be more reflective of the fact just 10 cents of each tax dollar collected goes to local governments, compared to 50 cents for the federal government and 40 for the province.

Moore said the $750-million Lions Gate wastewater plant is ready to go to a request for proposals and counts as “shovel ready” with a potential construction start of late this year or early 2017.

Regional mayors continue to stand behind their plan for transit expansion and Moore said it’s been held up by federal officials as a good example of a comprehensive strategy with broad local support.

Just Posted

Surrey councillor defends SOGI 123 stance after resigning from AutismBC

Laurie Guerra stands by her opposition to SOGI 123 resource as backlash over meeting comes to a head

PHOTOS: Hockey history in Surrey as Team India comes to play

Squad played its very first game in Canada on Tuesday against Surrey Falcons

Proposed coal project for Fraser Surrey Docks back in court

It could be months before the federal appeal court renders a decision

Minor injuries for firefighter struck outside South Surrey fire hall

Minor injuries for firefighter struck outside South Surrey fire hall

Surrey to hear news on Olympic softball qualifier bid next week

Decision, originally expected in September, was delayed by World Baseball Softball Confederation

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Vancouver man must pay $22,000 after breaking strata rules

Peter Gordon took his fight over his rented condo to the civil resolution tribunal, but lost

B.C. cheese linked to 5 E. coli cases

People are asked to throw out or return ‘Qualicum Spice’ cheese

Most Read