Thursday, October 26, 2017

Council of Councils: Paying for transit and transportation expansion in Metro Vancouver

On Monday, I posted about the Metro Vancouver Council of Councils meeting which I attended last Saturday. One of the main items on the agenda was Metro Vancouver’s 2018-22 Financial Plan, and the borrowing required for water and sewer infrastructure. At the same meeting, we also received an update from Kevin Desmond who is the CEO of TransLink.

TransLink is currently moving forward with implementing the Mayors’ Council’s 10-Year Vision. This vision is split into three phases.

Entire 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation. Select table to enlarge.

The provincial and federal governments are funding a significant portion of the capital costs for expanding the transit and transportation network in Metro Vancouver, but our region must also pay for some of the capital costs plus all of the on-going operational costs of the expanded network.

The regional component of phase 1 of the vision is being paid for with increased fare revenue, sold TransLink surplus property, and increased property tax. In addition, the mayors are asking the provincial government to introduce a Regional Development Cost Charge (DCC) for Transportation.

Desmond noted that the regional DCC for Transportation would be borne by developers rather than end users or homeowners. It is expected to raise between $20 million to $25 million annually. It would be waived for affordable rental housing development projects. There would be a different DCC rate for apartments, townhouses, single-family houses, and other types of property. The Mayors’ Council is currently working with the province to have legislation passed to enable the regional DCC for Transportation by the first quarter of 2018. If all goes to plan, developers would start paying the DCC in January 2020.

For phase two of the 10-Year Vision to move forward, Desmond stated that there is currently a $60 million to $80 million funding gap that needs to be filled. The province recently decided that carbon tax does not need to be revenue natural, and will be increasing it over the coming years. The Mayors’ Council is asking that the province contribute a portion of this increase in carbon tax to fund phase two of the vision.

The final part of the funding puzzle will be the introduction of mobility pricing in 2022. At the meeting, we heard from Joy MacPhail who in the vice chair of the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission. The commission will be investigating and making a recommendation on what mobility pricing should look like for Metro Vancouver under the following guiding principles:

  • Reduce Traffic Congestion
  • Promote Fairness
  • Support Transportation Investment

The commission will be releasing its recommendation in late April. For more information, please visit the commission’s recently launched website.

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