Federal Budget allocates "game changing" $2.2. billion injection for Metro Vancouver transit planning but BC Gov't must contribute likewise.

The federal government plans to chip in $2.2 billion for transit improvements in Metro Vancouver, but local mayors say their plan requires the same commitment from the province to go forward.

The multibillion-dollar contribution was announced Wednesday as part of the 2017-18 federal budget, which outlined plans to spend $304.7 billion over the next decade.

But among the budget's more expensive items was a commitment from Ottawa to spend $20.1 billion over 11 years for public transit across the country. A statement from the TransLink Mayors' Council issued after the budget was revealed said $2.2 billion of that investment has been promised for Metro Vancouver.

The Liberals committed to spending $20.1 billion over 11 years on public transit projects across Canada.
The money builds upon an initial commitment of $370 million announced last year.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson called the investment a "game changer," adding that the investment is the largest federal contribution to the region in more than 20 years.

The money has already been earmarked by the council for TransLink's 10-year transit plan, which includes upgrades to existing transit infrastructure, but also will see the construction of a Surrey light rail line and Broadway subway. Also on the list for Phase Two upgrades are the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, upgrades to existing SkyTrain stations, expansion of bus and HandyDART service and "continued improvements" to major roads and pathways.

The plan was approved last year, and Phase One was rolled out in January. The new federal funding will go toward Phase Two of the three-step project, but TransLink must first negotiate with the province to secure its share of the tab.

"Metro Mayors are ready to roll-up our sleeves in partnership with the BC government and match this funding with additional dollars to deliver crucial new projects," the council said.

With the provincial election less than two months away, the Mayors' Council is asking all political parties to commit to matching federal funding.

Upgrades to the Pattullo do not meet the guidelines for the Trudeau Government's transit funding, but the council said it is considering options including the a recently announced infrastructure bank and the Trade Transportation Corridor Initiative. The province has already committed to funding a third of the costs to replace the bridge.


CTV News March 22, 2107


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