The B.C. NDP party is promising, if elected, to get Metro Vancouver commuters moving again by increasing the provincial share of funding for public transportation improvements to 40 per cent and creating thousands of jobs over the next decade.
“A New Democrat government will increase the province’s capital share from 33 per cent to 40 per cent to get moving on the transportation planning framework developed by Metro Vancouver mayors,” B.C. NDP leader John Horgan said.
By increasing the province’s share to 40 per cent, along with the federal government’s pledge to contribute half to major transit capital projects, it would result in a significantly reduced regional contribution.
This federal funding is part of the first phase of Investing in Canada, the Government of Canada’s $120-billion plan to support infrastructure across the country over the next 10 years.
The Metro Vancouver public transportation plan still requires money from the region’s mayors, who are waiting for the province to approve their funding proposal. In 2015, Metro Vancouver residents voted down a proposed sales tax to pay for a $7.5 billion transit plan for the region.
The B.C. Government announced in May it had dedicated $246 million over three years to help build new transit infrastructure.
The Metro Vancouver mayors’ proposal to cover their share of the funding includes: a two per cent fare increase in 2018; selling $100 million worth of TransLink properties; a new regional development levy that would go directly to transit; a property tax increase and a road and bridge tolling system to be put in place starting in 2021. That plan, the mayors say, would raise about $5 billion.
Horgan claims the current mayors’ plan provides 1.5 million more people with reliable public transit service, cuts congested commutes by up to half an hour every day, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
“Instead of leading the way, Christy Clark has continually stood in the way,” Horgan said.
“The premier forced an expensive, made-to-fail referendum on voters, she picked fights with Lower Mainland mayors over funding, and she has stalled and dithered and blocked the way forward for years now.”
Horgan said their party’s plan will generate more than 4,300 jobs a year for British Columbians over 10 years, which equates to almost $4.5 billion for the province’s economy.