The provincial government is able to generate budget surpluses thanks to the economic engine that is known as Metro Vancouver – the cash cow of British Columbia. But though the Liberals are able to tap the cream from the cow, especially its real estate values, they don’t have to be particularly nice to the cow.
Latest evidence comes from the always-helpful SCI Update:
While the BC budget promises “$24.5 billion over three years in new and upgraded provincial infrastructure spending”, funding for a number of key infrastructure projects for the Metro region are conspicuous by their absence.
The biggest missing piece is a provincial commitment to funding a portion of the $700 million (estimated) upgrade of the Lions Gate Waste Water Treatment plant. The federal government has already committed $212 million to the project in the 2016 budget, and the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors has formally committed a 2 one-third share of the project, but Metro has been waiting for a provincial response to it’s funding application for well over a year. The 2017 budget makes no mention of the project.
And then this quite astonishing figure:
92% of major transportation capital spending in region is for Massey bridge
Transportation Ministry budget documents list $3.8 billion in planned spending for major capital projects in the Metro region from 2017-2024, but almost all of this money ($3.48 billion or 92%) is for the proposed Massey Tunnel replacement bridge project. Most Metro municipalities have expressed opposition to the proposal.
The Ministry of Transportation service plan accompanying the budget lists $320 million in spending for other major transportation projects in the region until 2024, but the province has so far committed only $99 million of that amount. $122 million of the funding for those projects is from the federal government, $69 million is from local governments and the remainder is not accounted for in the service plan.
Especially when compared to this:
Transit – where is the commitment to Phase II of the transit plan?
Metro is deeply concerned about the budget’s failure to commit to Phase Two of the Mayors’ council’s 10-year transit plan. Phase One, currently underway, is focused on reducing current overcrowding and congestion, but the province has yet to commit to Phase Two, which focuses on major transit expansion to address regional growth. This includes most of the big pieces in the 10-year plan, including new bus and SkyTrain service, the Millennium Line Broadway Extension and the Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT projects, the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, and addressing key traffic bottlenecks across the region.
But there are still a few months to go to the election. Things could change.