Public’s chance on TransLink’s transit expansion plan

Small hikes in property tax, fares proposed, creation of new development charge if Metro Vancouver mayors vote in favour

TransLink’s plan to expand transit service – funded by an increase in TransLink property taxes and fares as well as the creation of a new development cost charge – has now gone out for public comment.

Metro Vancouver mayors will vote on the plan in November.

It would provide for a near-immediate expansion of transit service, including more frequent SkyTrain, buses and SeaBuses early in 2017, and new B-line express bus routes in future years along with increased West Coast Express capacity.

The first phase of the 10-year vision would also advance the design of future new rapid transit lines in Surrey and along the Broadway corridor in Vancouver.

Open houses on the plan (all from 4 to 8 p.m.) are set for Oct. 18 in Maple Ridge (ACT Art Centre lobby), Oct. 19 in Vancouver (Collingwood Neighbourhood House multipurpose room), Oct. 20 in Surrey (Chuck Bailey Rec Centre), and Oct. 24 in Richmond (Kwantlen Polytechnic University – Melville Centre for Dialogue room A).

For more details on the plan, including benefits for each sub-region, and a feedback questionnaire see tenyearvision.translink.ca. Oct. 31 is the deadline to comment.

An average home assessed at $678,000 would pay $190 a year in dedicated property taxes to TransLink next year (an increase of $3 over and above the automatic annual increase for TransLink of about $2) and that would increase a further $3 a year thereafter.

For a $1 million property that translates to $285 in TransLink property tax in 2017 with $4 annual increases.

The most discomfort with the plan and its property tax increases so far have come from mayors of cities with high land values, such as West Vancouver.

Under the plan, the average business assessed at $2.6 million would pay $3,021 next year and see the TransLink property tax rise a further $45 each year.

The proposed fare increases would require riders who now pay $2.10 for one zone of travel with stored value on a Compass card to pay $2.20 in 2017 and $2.40 by 2019. One zone monthly passes would climb from $91 to $98 over the same period.

Details of the planned development cost charge are still to be determined, but TransLink has suggested it would aim to raise up to $20 million a year by charging $700 to $2,000 extra on new housing units and $0.50 per square foot on new commercial buildings.

The TransLink plan suggests developers would aim to pay less for land in response, and not simply add simply increase their prices for new homes.

“There would be no negative impact on housing affordability” at the rates contemplated, it says, adding fees could be reduced or eliminated for certain types of affordable housing.

The new plan for transit expansion follows the defeat of a referendum last year on a 0.5 per cent regional sales tax to fund what was then a one-third regional share requirement.

Since then, the federal government has pledged to cover half of capital costs, reducing the regional share to 17 per cent.

Phase One 10-Year Vision Public Consultation Display Boards by Jeff Nagel on Scribd

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