NDP promises to boost transit cost sharing if elected

Leader John Horgan says jump to 40 per cent from one-third B.C. share would break transportation funding gridlock

The B.C. NDP is promising to break the gridlock over Metro Vancouver transit expansion if it wins next spring’s provincial election by boosting the province’s traditional one-third share of capital funding for new projects to 40 per cent.

A 40 per cent provincial share, coupled with the federal government’s commitment to contribute half of major transit capital projects, would greatly reduce the required regional contribution to just 10 per cent of capital, plus operating costs.

Metro Vancouver mayors have pressed the BC Liberal government to also commit to a higher provincial share, but the Christy Clark government has not yet agreed, nor has it revoked its legislated requirement for a new referendum on any new transit funding source in the region.

“We’re stepping up while the B.C. Liberal government continues to stall,” NDP leader John Horgan said Thursday.

“Instead of leading the way, Christy Clark has continually stood in the way. The premier forced an expensive, made-to-fail referendum on voters, she picked fights with Lower Mainland mayors over funding, and she has stalled and dithered and blocked the way forward for years now.”

A 10 per cent regional requirement would be much smaller than the previous one-third burden, which mayors wanted to cover with a 0.5 per cent regional sales tax that would have generated $250 million a year, had it not been defeated by voters a year ago.

Metro Vancouver mayors earlier this year, anticipating a 17 per cent regional share, proposed enabling TransLink to raise an extra one per cent every year from property tax payers, a $50 million new funding source enabled by the province, as well as a new system of regional development cost charges and another transit fare increase.

The funding gap for TransLink has recently narrowed further since SkyTrain faregates closed. Officials say fare evasion is down and fare revenue is up by at least $25 million a year.

Horgan said the NDP supports the mayors’ council vision for transit.

“We’re going to work together to break the gridlock on our roads, fight climate change, and create thousands of good jobs as we move ahead.”

The NDP also reiterated past promises to put area mayors back fully in charge of TransLink, which is currently overseen by an appointed professional board of directors that includes the chair and vice-chair of the mayors’ council.

The NDP pledge for a higher provincial share of costs drew praise from environmental and labour groups that were part of the ‘Yes’ coalition in last year’s referendum.

“Investing in transit is a political home run for any party hoping to win the election,” said Ian Bruce, science and policy director of the David Suzuki Foundation. “Public transit bolsters the economy, provides people with better access to jobs and social services, improves public health by bettering air quality, and reduces carbon emissions and traffic.”

Canadian Taxpayers Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman questioned whether the extra money for TransLink projects would come at the expense of other transit investments outside of Metro Vancouver.

“All this money comes from somewhere,” he said. “The proof will be in the pudding – where does the NDP expect to get this additonal revenue from?”

Bateman said there is no reason to hold another referendum so long as Metro mayors are willing to raise TransLink property taxes to make up the gap.

Mayors have previously discussed options like creating an annual vehicle levy, but property tax is an existing source that would not trigger a new referendum.

Just Posted

South Surrey mother didn’t have the intent to kill her daughter: defence

Closing submissions in case of Lisa Batstone underway

Surrey woman plans to travel after winning $500,000

Frances Jarvos bought her winning ticket at Willowbrook Mall in Langley

Crime in Surrey dropped by four per cent in 2018 from 2017, city’s top cop says

Surrey RCMP OIC sharing the news with council Monday as city transitions to city police force

Child struck because driver didn’t clear ice from windshield, say Delta police

The child wasn’t seriously hurt and the driver was ticketed for driving with an obstructed view

MINTY: ‘Opening the Doors’ at Surrey gallery with local artist Joanne Dennis

Also, a called for submissions in Arts Council of Surrey’s ‘Just Gates’ exhibition

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

Most Read