District of North Vancouver mayor Richard Walton says that most of the candidates in the B.C. Liberal and NDP leadership contests “aren’t really current” on the issue of long-term funding for public transportation.
“I think I haven’t heard of any really active comments concerning the funding here beyond the general comments of wanting to work closely with our level of government, which is a prudent thing to say and do,” the chair of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation told the Straight by phone.
Walton recently met with B.C. transportation minister Shirley Bond. According to Walton, Bond indicated that “it will be up to the new premier and the new executive council, which probably will be having their meetings in March, to even determine what priorities and time lines” they’re going to follow.
Bond previously extended the deadline for TransLink to confirm it’s paying its $400-million share of the Evergreen Line project to March 31.
Of the six B.C. Liberal leadership hopefuls, only former Parksville mayor Ed Mayne agreed to the Straight’s request for comment regarding TransLink funding.
“I’d like to sit down and have conversations with all of these people that are looking for funding and let’s set our priorities as to what’s going to be the best for all of British Columbia and not just for one area,” Mayne said by phone.
The mayors’ council needs to make a decision within the first quarter of this year on two supplemental plans endorsed by the TransLink board. Both plans identify property-tax increases as the main source of funding for transit expansion, a measure opposed by a number of municipal politicians in the region.
Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini told the Straight he’s encouraged by a statement from NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth that revenues from the carbon tax should finance public transportation.
Environmentalist Eric Doherty wants leadership hopefuls in the two parties to commit to shifting money from freeway expansion to transit.
“Politicians want to convince us that we can afford everything,” Doherty told the Straight by phone, “that this is sort of shovelling money off the back of a truck in multiple directions. People are starting to realize that we’ve got to set priorities.”