The provincial government formally rejected a 30-year transportation plan for Metro Vancouver that was proposed by the region’s mayors on June 12.
“More work is required with respect to the safe and efficient movement of goods across the region,” wrote B.C. Minister of Transportation Todd Stone. “More work is also required on some of the funding assumptions to ensure there is an accurate and realistic plan to pay for the Vision.”
In a four-page letter addressed to North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton, chair of the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation, Stone described several concerns for how projects proposed by the mayors would be funded.
He noted that the $7.5-billion plan calls for $1.5 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years, but that Ottawa is only prepared to provide B.C. with $1 billion in that timeframe.
“This amount of funding will not be enough to accommodate all of the projects in your Vision, as well as other necessary and competing infrastructure needs throughout the province,” Stone stated.
“Realistically, if the Mayors’ expectations for federal funding are not met, this will either require higher regional contributions to fully fund the identified priorities, or phasing of projects over a longer time frame.”
The letter acknowledges that the mayors have suggested using funds raised through B.C.’s carbon tax. Stone dismissed that option, noting that the existing carbon tax is revenue neutral.
A new regional carbon tax could be considered by the mayors, Stone continued; however, he also suggested that a new tax would be “complex and costly to administer”, and that it would require a favourable vote from the public via a referendum.
Mobility pricing is also being discussed as a possible source for funding.
Stone wrote that the Ministry of Transportation would work with the mayors’ council to assess those options.
If the mayors decide to pursue a new regional carbon tax and opt for a referendum on that question to be held in November 2014, Stone wrote that his office requires receiving formal notification no later than July 15, 2014.
If a later date is selected for a referendum, the mayors would have to notify the ministry in the fall of 2014.
The mayors’ transportation plan is proposed to accommodate the one million additional Metro Vancouver residents expected to be added to the region over the next 30 years.
Projects include a rapid transit line down the Broadway Corridor, light rail in Surrey, a new Patullo Bridge, and expanded bus networks and SeaBus service.