A $4.1-billion funding agreement between Ottawa and B.C. has unlocked the $2.2 billion in federal money that TransLink needs to complete the next phase of its 10-year vision to improve transit and transportation in Metro Vancouver.
The 10-year agreement was announced Monday by federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi and B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena in Vancouver.
Mayors Corrigan and @MayorStewart with Ministers @SohiAmarjeet and @clairetrevena announcing signing of federal-provincial infrastructure funding program that pave the way for 10-Year Vision. Good news. Onwards! pic.twitter.com/GaTicRzrcX
— Mayors' Council (@mayors_council) April 2, 2018
It comes from a pool of $33 billion already set aside by Ottawa for provincial funding agreements.
Ottawa had previously promised to cover 40 per cent of project costs for phase two of the vision, which includes the construction of Surrey light rail, upgrades to the Millennium and Expo SkyTrain lines and an additional 420,000 hours of bus service. B.C. had pledged to cover another 40 per cent, while TransLink and the region’s mayors would come up with 20 per cent.
Surrey light rail was originally scheduled to be up and running by 2024 but following the federal announcement, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner bumped up the operating date of the City Centre-Newton and Guildford lines to 2021 in a Tuesday morning message to Black Press Media.
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond called the announcement “another milestone on the path toward a fully funded phase two” of the 10-year-vision.
“Transit ridership in Metro Vancouver has never been higher and with over one million more people coming to the region over the next three decades, we need to be prepared,” Desmond said in a statement.
The agreement finally being signed means a major step forward in the transportation plan. Last month, Metro Vancouver mayors announced they would fill their $70-billion gap with increases to parking, transit fares and property taxes.
The feds’ remaining $1.9 billion announced Monday will be split between BC Transit ($464 million), greenhouse gas emission-reducing infrastructure ($1.1 billion), projects to improve the quality of life in northern communities ($166 million), and culture and recreation projects ($157 million).
The funding will pay for up to 40 per cent of new builds and 50 per cent of repair and rehabilitation projects.
Rural and northern communities will get 50 per cent of all costs covered, while communities under 5,000 people will get 60 per cent.