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Oct 27,2011 Vancouver Sun

More transit funding issues still to be worked out
METRO VANCOUVER -- Construction on the long-awaited $1.2 billion Evergreen Line is expected to start at the end of next summer, Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom announced today.

But the minister, who met with Metro Vancouver mayors at TransLink this morning, said there has been no decision yet on how mayors will raise additional funds for transit without raising property taxes.

He expects a decision on alternative funding sources will be made within the year.

The meeting comes just a few weeks after the mayors' council on regional transportation approved a TransLink plan to raise $70 million annually for transit through a boost in the gas tax and potential property tax increase.

The province has already legislated the two cents a litre increase in the gas tax, which will bring in $40 million a year. It is in addition to the 15 cents per litre that TransLink already collects.

The plan also calls for a temporary property tax in 2013, which would bring in $30 million annually, or another long-term revenue source, such as a regional carbon tax, graduated vehicle levy, a road pricing transportation improvement fee, and road levies for future projects.

The money would be used for building the long-awaited Evergreen Line, as well as major improvements to SkyTrain stations at Metrotown, Main Street, Surrey Central and New Westminster and the Lonsdale SeaBus terminal; a new B-Line bus along King George Highway from White Rock to Guildford; more bus routes in south Surrey and Langley; Highway 1 rapid transit from Langley to Lougheed station; and road and cycling improvements.

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