British Columbia

TransLink governance change not happening, says province

The mayors of Metro Vancouver say it's time to put an elected official in charge of TransLink in order to regain public trust in the organization, but Minister Fassbender disagrees.

Metro Vancouver's mayors are asking for 'sole responsibility for transportation policy in the region'

Peter Fassbender, the minister responsible for Translink, wants Metro Vancouver's mayors to work within TransLink's existing governance model. (CBC)

The mayors of Metro Vancouver say it's time to put an elected official in charge of TransLink in order to regain public trust in the organization, but the province is responding with a solid no.

The Mayors' Council first called for change in TransLink governance after a 'No' vote in this summer's transit referendum on a 0.5 per cent increase in the provincial sales tax.

"We hope that making governance changes will [mean] people will feel more comfortable with giving more money to TransLink because they can talk to their local mayors, they can address the issues, and we can be accountable for collecting those funds and delivering those services," said Greg Moore, mayor of Port Coquitlam and the chair of the Metro Vancouver board of directors.

Talking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Peter Fassbender, the minister responsible for TransLink, said there would be no change in TransLink governance.

"I'm not prepared to change any legislation at this time."

Multiple TransLink CEOs have come and gone in recent months, with Ian Jarvis, Doug Allen, and now Cathy McLay all taking a turn this year.

Calling for legislative change

In order to implement this governance change at TransLink, Metro Vancouver is calling on the province for legislative change. It is asking the government to change the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act to give the Mayors' Council "sole responsibility for transportation policy in the region," according to the announcement.

Metro Vancouver's mayors and the B.C. government disagree on who should be in charge of TransLink. (CBC)

Ultimately this recommendation is about accountability, said Moore.

"People want to hold someone accountable when decisions are made poorly," he said. "That was the key issue. There's no elected folks in charge at TransLink."

Moore says this announcement should not be a surprise to Peter Fassbender, the minister in charge of TransLink because they have had "good meetings" during this process.

Province's reaction

Fassbender was quick to dismiss Metro Vancouver's recommendation, saying changes made earlier this year haven't had time to take effect yet.

"My call to the mayors when I met with them, and I've been very public about this, is there were changes made in the spring session under Minister Stone — those have really not had the opportunity to work yet."

Former TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis was fired from his job in February 2015 and continues to draw his annual salary of $422,000.

Fassbender confirmed the province's commitment to fund one third of the tab on major transportation infrastructure projects.

He said whether municipalities still need to come up with their third will depend on the new federal government's position.

With files from The Early Edition

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