Oct 23,2009 The Province
BURNABY — There will be no confrontation between Lower Mainland municipalities and the province over TransLink funding as the region's mayors voted Friday on a stabilization plan that will essentially keep the system operating.
But the decision to find $130 million more annually in revenue means there will be increased gas taxes, higher transit fares and an as-yet-unannounced provincial solution to the parking tax that was previously wiped out.
TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast said the decision rights a "financial imbalance" that would have seen the South Coast B.C. Transportation Authority facing a $150-million deficit in 2012.
"We are going to have to find some efficiencies," said Prendergast.
"It gives us some breathing room," he added.
But some mayors, notably Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Joe Trasolini of Port Moody, tried to convince their counterparts that now was the time to confront the provincial government over TransLink's essentially unsustainable funding by choosing the base-case plan.
That plan, presented to them by the new professional board of TransLink, would not have required any new funding but would have resulted in severe transit-service cuts and reduced road maintenance.
"It's a decision that takes us nowhere," said Corrigan of Friday's results.
But Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, chair of the mayors' council, said a recent meeting with new transportation minister Shirley Bond gives her the belief a long-term solution will be found — or else.
"I don't want to be back here a year from now having the same conversation," said Watts.
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