As Monday morning commuters flowed in and out of Broadway-City Hall Station, NDP MPs gathered outside for what one of them called an “exciting announcement”.
Fin Donnelly, the MP for New Westminster-Coquitlam, told reporters that if New Democrats form the government after the 2015 federal election, they will bring in a national transit strategy lasting 15 to 20 years.
“What we’re committing to is a 15-to-20-year window of predictable, accountable funding that municipalities, provinces, and First Nations can access, so that they can do the planning they need in their cities, in the provinces, in the territories to make the certainty of moving goods and people in their region,” Donnelly said today (September 8) during the news conference in Vancouver.
Donnelly maintained that this funding model would be an improvement over the “one-year, lottery-type” regime in place under the Conservative government.
According to Donnelly, the NDP has previously promised $420 million in funding for transit. He said people will have to wait for the Opposition party’s election platform for the updated figure.
“Yes, that’s going to mean a commitment in funds,” Donnelly said. “That is something we work on through the gas tax. We want to look at how we can improve that gas tax commitment.”
Asked whether an NDP government would fund the proposed Broadway subway line in Vancouver or light-rail lines in Surrey—or both—Donnelly replied: “There are many transit needs that have been not met over the past 20 years. I think what the federal role is, is to provide that certainty and to provide an amount of funding that is going to make a difference. It is up to the local jurisdictions, like TransLink and municipalities in this area, to make those priorities clear, to work with the provinces and to work with the federal government. So Canada’s NDP has committed to work over the long term with those municipalities, with the provinces, and First Nations once they’ve identified those priorities.”
B.C. NDP MPs Jean Crowder, Don Davies, Peter Julian, Murray Rankin, Jasbir Sandhu, and Kennedy Stewart joined Donnelly for the news conference, which was attended by COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong and Vision Vancouver park board commissioner Constance Barnes (who arrived with her bicycle).
Donnelly noted that local residents are concerned about full buses, long waits, and climate change.
“If we want to get people out of our cars and if we want to deal effectively with climate change, that’s going to require Canada building a modern public transit system that works for people,” Donnelly said. “It’s got to be efficient, and it’s got to move people in a way that helps them get to work and get home.”