Metro Vancouver's mayors told B.C.'s Transportation Minister Todd Stone today that they were not impressed by the province's decision to announce a new bridge for the region without checking with them first.
The Mayors' Council was meeting with the minister for the first time since Premier Christy Clark announced a new bridge will be built to replace the George Massey Tunnel south of Vancouver.
The mayors say the provincial government made an end run about them by announcing the replacement for the George Massy tunnel with no consultation and no explanation on how it will be paid for.
The Mayors' Council was created by the province to approve TransLink's major transportation projects in the region.
In financial terms the George Massey Tunnel is maintained by the province, not TransLink, and does not technically fall under TransLink's mandate.
Nevertheless the new Transportation Minister Todd Stone said he got the message from the mayors,
But Stone said there will be a referendum some time in the next year to determine how future funding for TransLink will be raised. The government wants to make sure they get the question right, she said, and that means everyone in the Lower Mainland needs to understand what the overall transit vision is.
During the May provincial election Clark promised to put a new funding formula to a referendum during the 2014 civic elections. Possible options include more bridge tolling, road pricing, or taxes.
But Delta Mayor Lois Jackson says funding isn't the only problem at TransLink. She says some major changes need to be made to the way the regional transit authority is organized.
"TransLink, as I understand, has nine different boards. I mean that's just terrible, and I don't think they're all talking to each other," says Jackson.
"The meetings are closed. I don't know what's going on there half the time. And yet that's taxpayer's money, big time."
She says, in terms of funding, she agrees with Premier Christy Clark that a referendum is the way to sort it out.
But Jackson says individual projects like the bridge the province has promised to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel, should not be put to referendums because they pit regional interest against each other.