Two announcements today, one by the Mayors Council and the other by the Provincial Gov’t on transit funding.

The difference that matters is the timeframe — the span of interest, of vision, of commitment.  Short message:  it ain’t even close.

The Mayors want to settle funding for the full 10-year plan, and secure priority access to the massive Federal funding that is on the table.  The Province will only discuss their share of the current Phase 1 money in play — $370 M from the Feds, $246 M from the Province and the remaining $124 M from the region.

Noteworthy ideas from the Mayors:  Increase property tax (rejected by Mayors in earlier discussions).  Return control of Translink to the Mayor’s Council.  Move towards mobility pricing. Try again for a share of carbon tax, or another provincially-controlled revenue source.

The Mayors have proposed to provide 100% of life-cycle operating costs, estimated at $3.9 billion, and the remaining 17% of the Vision’s capital costs, estimated at $1.9 billion over 10 years, by generating new revenues from the:

  1. sale of TransLink surplus property, generating $150 million total towards the Vision.
  2. one-time 2% transit fare increase in 2018, resulting in an average impact of 5¢ – 20¢ per single use product, and generating $106 million, over 10 years
  3. incremental fare revenues from expanded service generating $454 million over 10 years
  4. new Regional Development Cost Charge for Transit, generating $216 million, over 10 years with a representative impact of $1,000 per residential unit, and with the potential to apply benefitting area rate(s), with more analysis and options to explore.
  5. Adjustment of the existing 3% cap on the TransLink Property Tax so it applies to existing owners, with an added annual impact of $4 per average house, generating $339 million over 10 years
  6. allocation of a portion of the region’s federal Gas Tax Fund worth $391 million, over 10 years
  7. introduction of mobility pricing by 2021, generating a net $326 million, over 5-6 years
  8. Vancouver and Surrey will contribute land and other in-kind services to partially off-set costs of the major projects planned in their municipalities.

And suggested the Province contribute:

  • $3 billion over 10-15 years for a 33% share of capital costs of the 10-Year Plan
  • Redistribute and return $50 million in Provincial Carbon Tax subsidy provided to households outside Metro Vancouver back to the region to fund transportation improvements (or another provincially-controlled regional revenue source) 
  • Support for the Mayors’ Council’s efforts to implement regional mobility pricing 
  • Return governance of TransLink to Mayors

While these discussions go on, the Feds are watching, and a long line of others jostle for position at their door.

Update

Report from Frances Bula in the Globe and Mail

The proposal is also the latest salvo between the province and cities as they figure out how they will come up with the $370-million needed to tap into the matching $370-million on the table from the federal government.

Both sides say they need to come to an agreement within weeks or they risk going to the end of the line behind other cities and provinces that have put together their agreements faster.

Report from Jeff Nagle in the Surrey Leader.

 “We feel we’re in striking distance of making this mayors’ plan a reality but we need a partner with the provincial government and so far we haven’t had that,” New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté said. “We know there’s going to be substantial federal money available for transit, the type of money we haven’t seen in a generation. My big concern is if the mayors and the province can’t get together to get an agreement in the very near term the reality is I think that’s going to be a lost opportunity for our region.”