Metro Vancouver (the GVRD at that time) adopted the Livable Region Strategic Plan and Transport 2021 in the 1990s. … By building walkable and transit-accessible neighbourhoods, the Region could accommodate growth while preserving precious greenspace and farmland – the very things that make our region a special place.
There was a hitch though. … more transit service would be needed. B.C. Transit was in a sorry state. …
The Province wanted to cap spending on transit while the Region wanted more control …. After much back and forth, a deal was struck.
A new transportation agency would be created for Metro Vancouver – now TransLink – controlled by a 15 member board: 12 Metro Vancouver appointees, with sub-regional representation and weighted votes, like other Metro Vancouver boards; and three board members appointed by the provincial government.
Funding was a sticking point. In the end, the Province agreed to keep paying ongoing capital payments for the Expo Line and West Coast Express, and to pay 60 percent of the capital costs of the yet to be built Millennium Line and Evergreen Line.
The provincial government would stop charging a Hospital District Property Tax in the region, worth $70 million (2015 dollars) at the time, and reduce the provincial gas tax in Metro Vancouver by six cents. The idea was to create a replacement property tax and gas tax for the new regional transportation authority. The new transit authority would also get the other funding sources that existed at the time including fares, the parking sales tax, the B.C. Hydro levy, and non-residential property tax.
It was known that more funding would be needed: $265 million per year (2015 dollars) in … a proposed vehicle levy to be introduced after the 2001 provincial election. .
On paper, both the Province and local governments got what they wanted. The Region got control of transportation while the Province was able to stop funding the operation of transit in Metro Vancouver out of general revenue. Metro Vancouver residents would finally get the transit system they deserved.
Of course, this wasn’t to be. The NDP, fearing the vehicle levy would get them unelected, scrapped it. The B.C. Liberal won that election and didn’t move forward with the levy.
The BC Liberals agreed to raise gas tax by two cents per liter if local governments agreed to jack up property tax to collect an additional $20 million per year, and fares would be hiked an additional $25 million per year, to bring in $85 million per year (in 2002 dollars).
It was enough to keep things going while getting the Millennium Line running. But it was far short of the money required to meet the vision of Transport 2021.
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