Metro Vancouver mayors will have new powers over TransLink, including setting the timing and question for a referendum on future funding, the B.C. government announced Thursday.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone introduced the changes in the B.C. legislature on Thursday morning in response to demands from the mayors for more direct control of the regional transit authority.

"The governance improvements are real change that places more authority in the hands of the Mayors’ Council," said Stone in a statement on Thursday after the legislation was introduced.

"With greater authority comes greater accountability, and I am confident the mayors will embrace the opportunities ahead of them."

But Stone reiterated that any new funding measures will have to be approved by taxpayers during a referendum, which could either be held during municipal elections or as a stand-alone vote before June 2015.

The new powers given to the Mayors' Council are:

  • Approving TransLink’s long term strategies, including a 30-year regional transportation strategy and new, fully-funded, 10-year investment plans.
  • Assuming the responsibilities of the TransLink Commissioner, including approving fare increases, deciding the sale of major assets and overseeing TransLink’s complaints and customer satisfaction survey processes.
  • Overseeing executive and board of directors remuneration.
  • Determining the timing of a regional funding referendum before new fees or taxes are used to expand the Metro Vancouver transportation system.
  • Direct input into the wording of a referendum question.