It's been a long wait for provincial funding for more transit lines in Metro Vancouver, according to a new report.

It's been a long wait for provincial funding for more transit lines in Metro Vancouver, according to a new report.

B.C. systematically underfunding transit: report

Province is far shot of investment it promised in 2008, needs to find solution fast to tap federal transit grants

The B.C. government has fallen far short of commitments to invest in public transit laid out in its 2008 provincial transit plan while powering ahead with billions of dollars in spending on road and bridge megaprojects, according to a report by the David Suzuki Foundation.

Foundation CEO Peter Robinson accused the province of “systematic underfunding of transit” and thereby exacerbating congestion in dense areas of Metro Vancouver.

The provincial plan of 2008 promised $4.75 billion in provincial funding for transit over 12 years as part of $11.1 billion in total projects, but the Suzuki report says only $1.1 billion has so far flowed from the B.C. government.

Metro Vancouver projects have been largely frozen in the wake of Premier Christy Clark’s 2013 decision new funding sources would have to go to a referendum, which was defeated in 2015.

The foundation is among the transit advocates urging a solution to generate more funding quickly in order to ensure Metro Vancouver isn’t beaten by cities like Toronto and Montreal in getting their share of billions of dollars that the federal government is offering to expand transit.

“B.C. has spent a decade pondering a solution, and the current window of opportunity is time-bound and critical to the economic, social and environmental future of the province,” the report said.

Metro Vancouver mayors have proposed enabling TransLink to raise an extra one per cent every year from property tax payers, a $50 million new funding source enabled by the province, as well as a new system of regional development cost charges and another transit fare increase.

So far the province has suggested it would fund one third of the mayors’ $7.5-billion plan.

But the province has only committed to match the initial first phase of funding from the federal government, not the subsequent second phase that would be required to actually build new rapid transit lines in Surrey and Vancouver.

Minister for TransLink Peter Fassbender said the province remains committed to funding those new lines even though it can’t yet formalize that ahead of a federal decision on the second phase grants.

“The mayors can raise funding from existing sources for phase 1,” he said Monday. “I believe they’re going to do that. We’re going to work together with the federal government.

“I don’t buy the concept we have not seen any movement. We have seen significant movement.”

Fassbender insisted the B.C. government has made major transportation improvements since 2008, highlighting the opening of the Canada Line, the Evergreen Line under construction now and the replacement of the Port Mann Bridge, which brought new express bus service across the Fraser River.

The minister also said the government is hearing concerns about housing affordability “every day” and said better transportation and more housing supply – which could come with redevelopment along rapid transit corridors – is part of the solution.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Township of Langley crews were called to a structure fire in the 7200blk 208th St in Willoughby on Friday, Jan. 22, 2020 (Curtis Kreklau/South Fraser News Services)
VIDEO: Two-alarm blaze in Langley’s Willoughby neighbourhood

Crews respond to multiple reports of a structure fire in the 7200 block of 208th Street on Friday

Black Press Media Files
BC Teacher’s Federation asks for vaccine prioritization

‘Hopefully more vaccines are approved and the immunization strategy will be adjusted and accelerated’

Theatre in the Country presents Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde. (TIC/Special to the Aldergrove Star)
Oscar Wilde, Kauffman and Hart, and adult acting classes all happening at Langley theatre

Theatre in the Country continues to showcase Zoom performances while now offering scene studies

Curator Kobi Christian with an exhibit on historic clothing that was on display at the Langley Centennial Museum last February. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley museum gets $75,000 grant

The funding is to go towards improving facilities

Tyler Tardi will serve as a fifth on Team Laycock at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tyler Tardi to serve as alternate for B.C. team at Brier

Langley/Cloverdale curler to serve as ‘fifth’ on Team Laycock at Calgary-hosted championships

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Most Read