The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation in British Columbia has released the Cure Congestion Federal Election Voters’ Guide, summarizing commitments to transit and transportation from the Conservative Party, Green Party, Liberal Party and New Democratic Party.
Along with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Mayors’ Council has called for a permanent transit fund as the best way to ensure Metro Vancouver and other Canadian cities can keep up with rapidly growing demand for transit service and to avoid congestion and overcrowding.
The Greens, Liberals, and NDP have promised to introduce a permanent transit fund, to provide sustained federal investments beyond 2027 when current funding is set to expire. While the Liberals committed $3 billion per year and the Greens committed $3.4 billion respectively for a permanent fund, the NDP did not specify a funding commitment.
The Conservatives say they will honour investments in projects already committed by the current government, however they would extend spending on infrastructure over the next 15 years rather than 12 years, which would lead to a reduction in the overall federal funding available to build projects in the 10-Year Vision between now and 2027.
The Mayors’ Council has set an ambitious plan, the 10-Year Vision, to expand transit in Metro Vancouver to respond to surging ridership, to ready the region for one million more people moving here over the next 20 years, and to support Canada’s climate change targets.
Current funding commitments to TransLink from all levels of government – including federal funding up to 2027 – have been almost fully allocated to these projects that are part of the 10-Year Vision:
- Extending SkyTrain along Broadway to Arbutus (Vancouver)
- Planned upgrades to the existing Expo Line and Millennium Line
- Extending SkyTrain along Fraser Highway to Fleetwood (Surrey)
All four parties have committed to continue these three existing projects. In response to questions about its understanding of the Fraser Highway SkyTrain project to Fleetwood, Conservative Party officials confirmed that the party would consider this project an existing commitment and would expedite its review to keep the project on schedule for a mid-2020 federal approval.
Projects at risk of delay if new transit funding commitments are not made beyond 2027 include the following projects remaining in the 10-Year Vision:
- Extending SkyTrain to Langley
- Extending Skytrain to UBC
- Adding all 5 rapid bus lines that are part of the Phase Three Plan of the 10-Year Vision
- Rapid transit on King George Boulevard
- Electrification of TransLink’s bus fleet
- Burnaby Mountain Gondola
The Green Party and Liberal Party commitments to permanent federal funding of at least $3 billion annually for public transit extending beyond 2027 would enable TransLink to proceed with the projects listed above. An NDP commitment at the same funding level would accomplish the same.
The Conservative platform states they will fund already-approved projects committed by the current government as well as new projects that “shorten commute times.” The replacement of the Massey Tunnel (which is not within the Mayors’ Council’s mandate) is the only example of a new Metro Vancouver project specifically listed by the Conservative Party.
The Mayors’ Council and FCM have also called for federal funding to accelerate the adoption of electric buses and other low-to-zero emission transit and municipal fleet vehicles. The Green Party, Liberal Party and new Democratic Party have each made commitments to investing in electrification of transit fleets.
The Cure Congestion Voters’ Guide represents the culmination of a six-month, non-partisan public outreach campaign by the Mayors’ Council, aimed at educating the region’s voters about Metro Vancouver’s transit expansion plans and ensuring transportation is a key issue in the lead up to the October 21st election. The Guide includes each party’s verbatim responses to four questions posed by the Mayors’ Council, as well as a fact-based summary of transit and transportation commitments in the party platforms.
The Cure Congestion federal election platform was released in spring 2019 with the support of local stakeholders including the Better Transit & Transportation Coalition, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, AMS Student Society of UBC, Kwantlen Student Association, BC Chamber of Commerce, North Vancouver Chamber, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, United Way of the Lower Mainland, HUB Cycling, BC Healthy Living Alliance, and the David Suzuki Foundation.