TransLink power put back in mayors’ hands
Transport Minister Todd Stone says many powers surrounding TransLink's governance are returning to the mayors. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan is seen here at a Metro Vancouver meeting with his Lower Mainland couterparts. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)
The TransLink ball is back in the mayors’ court.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone promised Thursday to legislate more powers for Vancouver-region mayors to govern the local transit authority.
However, the change comes with the expectation civic politicians will lead a transit-funding referendum first proposed as a BC Liberal election promise.
Issues such as executive compensation, fare increases, long-range strategy and short-term business plans — plus $1 million in annual funding to hire staff — is now expected to rest with mayors once the legislative changes are made in about three months, Stone said.
Mayors’ Council chairman Richard Walton didn’t respond by press time Thursday — but more powers have long been requested by civic politicians, some of whom had led the organization in a previous governance structure prior to 2007.
Additionally, a TransLink funding referendum originally scheduled for this November can now be delayed to June 2015. The province would foot the bill, Stone said.
If “a vision (for regional transport expansion) is not ready by June 30, 2014, the next date the provincial government is willing to consider a referendum is in conjunction with the subsequent local government election” in 2017.
“This is indeed what the Mayors’ Council has been asking for,” Stone said.
“Full authority over a 30-year strategy, full authority over a 10-year investment plan, replaces all the base- and supplemental-plan processes that they have no control over today.”
The BC New Democrats criticized the potential referendum delay, calling Stone’s tight deadline for the mayors “unreasonable.”
“Now these critical decisions around meeting current plans, like additional bus service hours, in the face of a funding shortfall will be further delayed,” NDP TransLink critic George Heyman said in a statement.
Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation said not hosting the referendum with the November municipal elections could cost taxpayers millions.