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Civic politicians befuddled on where TransLink cash goes

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Metro Vancouver politicians say they can’t figure out what TransLink has been spending $122 million in federal gas tax funding on as they’re once again asked to approve the annual funding.

As one example, a Metro Vancouver report says TransLink was given money several years ago to buy community shuttles — only now it wants some funding from that request for such things as West Coast Express trains.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan wants to see more detailed information from TransLink.

“We need to take a more aggressive stance on where that money is going,” he said Tuesday.

“I’m voting negative (on giving the money to TransLink) and I’ve voted negative in the past and will continue to vote negative.”

Part of the issue arises from amendments to what the money is being spent on after the politicians approve the funding.

“There just doesn’t seem to be any correlation between the original vision and what was spent,” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said.

Aside from replacing aging buses, TransLink vice-president Bob Paddon said part of the new round of cash would be used to replace a 28-year-old SkyTrain control system that could cause service disruptions if not upgraded.

“They’re old, they’re aging, there’s potential for failure,” he said. “We really haven’t had a whole lot of trouble with them so far, but we’ve been pushing their age.”

Electoral Area A director Maria Harris wants to see an analysis of how the region would benefit from giving the money to transit.

“Before I give anybody $125 million I ask them to show me how it’s going to benefit me,” she said.

Metro Vancouver CAO Carol Mason told the transport committee she would attempt to analyze where the cash is going, but added there could be difficulties as regional government doesn’t control TransLink’s operations spending.





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