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Dec 7,2010 Tri City News


Peter Fassbender expects a scrap Thursday over whether he'll be re-elected chair of the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation.

The Langley City mayor has been the go-between in the ongoing tussle between Metro Vancouver mayors and the provincial government on how TransLink should raise hundreds of millions of dollars more each year for rapid transit expansion.

"I think there's potential for a challenge," said Fassbender, who has given notice he will seek the chair again in the Dec. 9 vote. "I have had some feedback that some mayors think I'm too soft on property taxes."

Transportation minister Shirley Bond had pressed the mayors to approve higher property taxes to at least pay TransLink's share of building the Evergreen Line, but the mayors balked, prompting Bond to agree to take more time to consider alternatives like road pricing, a vehicle levy or a share of the carbon tax.

While an appointed professional board has operational control of TransLink, major tax or revenue increases for expansion can't go ahead without the mayors' approval.

Fassbender said he's spent much effort improving the mayors' relationship with the provincial government and helping secure an agreement signed in September to explore all revenue sources.

Some mayors wanted the proposed property tax hike to go to a formal vote of the mayors' council to send a message to Victoria, but Fassbender said such a confrontation would be pointless because it was already clear it was going to be defeated.

"I make no apology for being an individual who tries to find conciliatory and cooperative way to find solutions," Fassbender said. "This is my style and I stand by it. I'd rather work with people than throwing down gauntlets to see if we can get into a fight. To me it's a much more productive way to live life."

Fassbender insisted he does not want to see property taxes raised further to fund transportation.

Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini also says he intends to seek re-election as vice-chair of the mayors council.

"We're going to be going through a very important phase," Trasolini said, adding he's concerned further delays in hammering out a TransLink funding solution could significantly delay construction of the Evergreen Line.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, the previous chair before Fassbender, said she doesn't plan to seek the position again.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan has previously been among the most vocal in saying Metro mayors should stand up to Victoria over TransLink funding, but he could not be reached for comment.

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