Broadway subway, Surrey LRT will be pricier than planned. But how much?

Click to play video: 'Big funding announcement for Metro Vancouver transit projects' Big funding announcement for Metro Vancouver transit projects
Province to match federal funding for Broadway subway, Surrey LRT (March, 2017) – Mar 31, 2017

TransLink’s CEO has acknowledged that the final price tag for a pair of big-ticket transit projects will climb beyond initial estimates.

But Kevin Desmond isn’t ready to say by how much.

On Wednesday, Desmond was quizzed by CKNW’s Steele & Drex about a report from independent journalist Bob Mackin suggesting officials were keeping the lid on known cost increases for a Broadway subway and Surrey light rail transit (LRT).

LISTEN: TransLink CEO joins CKNW’s Steele & Drex

Story continues below advertisement

“Yes, they’re going to be more expensive,” Desmond said.

“When those projects were conceived for the referendum, that’s now three years ago. So you’ve had a change in the value of the Canadian dollar, you’ve had general inflation, land values have gone up a lot. So for both the light rail project and the Millennium Line extension, land values are big part of the price.”

The Broadway subway and the Surrey LRT, along with the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, are the proposed centrepieces of Phase Two of the Mayors’ Council’s 10-year plan.

READ MORE: ‘Vancouver is falling behind’ says Mayor Gregor Robertson on 10-year transit vision

When TransLink initially unveiled them in 2014, the cost of the subway was pegged at $1.98 billion, while the LRT project was pegged at $2.14 billion.

Desmond declined to say how much cost estimates had climbed in the three years since then.

“We have draft business cases in to the province right now, and that’s part of their review of the program,” he said.

“Until those business cases are approved and signed off on by the province, we’ll then at that point be able to say what the cost estimates are, because they could change the scope.”

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: City of Surrey awards contract for early LRT construction

Desmond did, however, admit that the City of Vancouver could end up on the hook for some of the final cost.

Discussions with the city and the Mayors Council are currently underway, he said.

“Will Vancouver make a financial contribution, and how much? That’s a topic of conversation at this point in time,” he said.

The province and the federal government have each committed to pitching in $2.2 billion for the 10-year plan, leaving regional leaders to come up with the remaining 20 per cent of project financing.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver mayors want carbon tax money to help pay for LRT, Broadway subway and more

Meanwhile, B.C.’s finance minister an increase in costs won’t affect the way the provincial government is approaching transit funding.

“We’ve committed to seeing the mayor’s plan when it comes forward, funding it by 40 per cent,” said Carole James.

But details won’t likely be released until later next year, “It’ll depend on the mayors’ plan, some of that, I’ve heard, may not come forward until the spring,” said James.

Story continues below advertisement

She did not weight in on which line she would like to see built first.

~With files from Liza Yuzda

Sponsored content