British Columbia

Metro Vancouver mayors make pitch for dedicated federal transportation fund

Members of the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation launched the Cure Congestion campaign at the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station as they sought to court the attention of federal parties in advance of the October election.

Council says it wants predictable, annual funding formula for all urban municipalities in Canada

The Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation says dedicated funding is needed to ensure TransLink can start on new projects in Metro Vancouver. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

Mayors from across Metro Vancouver gathered at a busy rapid transit station in Vancouver on Monday to demand stable, secure transit funding for all municipalities in Canada.

Members of the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation launched the Cure Congestion campaign at the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station as they sought to court the attention of federal parties in advance of the October election.

Chairman Jonathan Cote says a large part of the council's 10-year transportation plan has federal backing for projects across the region, but those funds will expire in a few years.

Cote, the New Westminster mayor, says the council wants to see a predictable, annual funding formula extended to all urban municipalities in Canada, adding that it will ensure more certainty than the current way projects get money. 

"It's often funded with single projects that may be exciting for ribbon cuttings, but ultimately what major urban centres need is a predictable source of funding where we can do long-range planning," he said. 

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said it's usually difficult to get the federal government to prioritize infrastructure projects on the West Coast. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

Election factor

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says the time to promote the campaign is now, as political parties hammer out platforms for the Oct. 21 federal election.

"We really have to put the pressure on the federal parties right now as they're developing their platforms," he said.

"The election isn't until October, so starting in April now is to [make sure] they hear the drum beat, so it'll be impossible for them not to include this in their election campaign platforms."

Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese, the council's vice-chairman, says federal, provincial and municipal partnerships have built on "collective momentum" over the past three years, and congestion will worsen if that isn't maintained.

"We want this positive progress to continue," Froese told the gathering on Tuesday.

"That's why the Mayors' Council is calling for permanent, sustained, federal funding that will enable TransLink to accelerate completion of the 10-year vision and start building new projects to be identified in the Regional Transportation Strategy now being developed," he says.

Statistics show Metro Vancouver leads Canada and the United States in per capita transit ridership, which Cote says is incredibly impressive and the result of the investments made in transit.

With files from Justin McElroy

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