We are getting down to short days, the pressure is on, and the promised $370M in immediate Federal transit funding is at stake. The Feds have committed this $370M (50%), contingent upon a matching local $370M (50%) for a total of $740M. The Feds’ portion is a generous increase from their historical share in the traditional 33/33/33 formula from each level of government.
The source of the as-yet undecided $370M (50%) portion is under intense discussion between the Province of BC and the Metro Mayors. The deadline seems like the end of June.
The Province, so far, has remained steadfast on providing 33% (~ $244M). This leaves the Mayors with 17% (~ $126M) to find somewhere.
And much larger amounts to raise when the projects start to hit construction phase. Presumably, any funding formula agreed-upon in this phase between the Mayors and the Province would carry on into the remainder of the phases.
According to Frances Bula in the Globe and Mail, Minister Fassbender has said:
“We know that, by the end of next month, we need to be very clear on how to move forward and what the province is prepared to do,” Peter Fassbender said.
“We recognize there is a need to move quickly. I’m looking hard at what the province is prepared to do.”
The Mayors, it seems, are pushing hard. But they are not the only people pushing.
Says Bula : TransLink’s mayors’ council leaders, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, have said cities shouldn’t be putting in more than 10 per cent, since that’s about the proportion of tax dollars they collect compared with other levels of government.
Jenni Shephard reports in VanCityBuzz on an open letter to Premier Clark from 32 people, including business and other organizations, who advocate for action and funding within a regional approach. Just like last time.
To quote from the letter:
Expansion of transit services — especially when they’re electrified — is crucial for Metro Vancouver to improve air quality and health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic development and job growth.
A growing number of studies confirm that congestion costs our region more than $1 billion each year due to lost productivity, increased operating costs and lost business revenue and regional GDP. It has been estimated that investment in transit could save the health care system at least $115 million annually, and likely considerably more if the benefits of increased physical activity were also included as part of the cost-savings analysis. . . .
. . . we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of using newly available federal funds to implement the full set of regional transportation improvements outlined in the Mayors’ Council Transportation and Transit Plan rather than a few projects here and there. A regional approach to transportation investments will ensure that Metro Vancouver residents and businesses throughout the region will benefit.
These two top challenges conclude a quite detailed economic picture of Greater Vancouver:
Challenge 1 Lack of investment in public transit and roads
Long commute times are adding to Greater Vancouver’s difficulties in attracting high-end talent. . . . Therefore, cementing Greater Vancouver’s status as a Canadian economic leader requires a commitment to invest in its public transit and road infrastructure. . . . In this regard, the Mayors’ Council 10-year Vision for Metro Vancouver and the provincial government’s 10-year B.C. on the Move plan are steps in the right direction. But a funding solution for these critical plans remains elusive.
Challenge 2 Housing Affordability
[Ed. Enough said.]