British Columbia

New Mayors' Council chair raises concerns over funding for transport projects

Derek Corrigan says his fellow Metro Vancouver mayors shouldn't worry about the future of transport projects under his tenure as Mayors' Council chair — but funding remains a big concern.

But Derek Corrigan says Metro Vancouver mayors 'will see their projects go ahead'

'We've got to find a way out of what is a very difficult situation before we can move wholeheartedly into the plan. And I'm being realistic about that,' says Burnaby mayor and Mayors' Council chair Derek Corrigan. (Simon Charland/CBC)

Derek Corrigan says his fellow Metro Vancouver mayors shouldn't worry about the future of transportation projects in the area under his tenure as Mayors' Council chair.

But the mayor of Burnaby remains concerned about how huge infrastructure projects like the SkyTrain Broadway extension and the Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT line will be funded.

​Some Lower Mainland politicians expressed concern when Corrigan was elected chair of the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation chair in December, with New Westminster Coun. Patrick Johnstone calling him "transit regressive."

Corrigan has been critical of many of the Mayors' Council's plans, saying they were "very ambitious" and predicting a "slow down". 

Future of major projects

However, Corrigan told the CBC's Early Edition host Steven Quinn that the mayors have nothing to worry about.

"I think the mayors will see their projects go ahead and I think they'll be done in a timely manner," he said.

The 10-year plan of the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation includes plans for SkyTrain, LRT, and expanded bus service. (CBC)

But Corrigan said there still exists a problem of funding the projects.

While the federal government has committed $2.2 billion for local transportation projects and the province has committed to fund 40 per cent of the capital projects, the municipalities have yet to fund the remaining portion, he said. 

"We've got to find a way out of what is a very difficult situation before we can move wholeheartedly into the plan. And I'm being realistic about that," said Corrigan.

He says the mayors have said over and over they do not want to seek money from property taxes, so they are discussing alternative funding sources from the province.

"I believe there are solutions that we may be able to find, but at this stage we're not able to discuss any of the alternatives that are being proposed," Corrigan said. 

Mobility pricing 

Last week, the independent commission on mobility pricing released its report on the first phase of its mission to research how to change the way transportation is priced in Metro Vancouver.

It suggested possibilities including a fee to enter downtown Vancouver and charging drivers for distances travelled, with increased fees for some locations. 

TransLink says mobility pricing — which refers to charging people for the use of roads, bridges and transit — would be used to reduce congestion, promote fairness and support investment in the transportation system. 

Corrigan says since the public rejected the 2015 referendum on a $7.5-billion transportation plan from the Mayors' Council, this alternative way to add taxes in order to finance the transit system will not be attractive to them. 

"I don't know if the government's going to be interested in going into the next election proposing that there be a comprehensive tolling system around the Lower Mainland as a result of the mobility pricing commission," said Corrigan.

"It sounds to me and it looks to me that this may be a significant way off. It's not going to become a way to solve the immediate funding problems that we've got."

The commission's final report is due in April. 

With files from The Early Edition

Cory Correia

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