During a news conference this morning, BC Minister of Transportation Todd Stone announced that the upcoming public transit referendum could be moved to another date.
Stone says that the window for the vote could still be held as early as November 2014, as originally proposed during the municipal elections, to as late June 2015 to provide proponents of transit expansion enough time to develop a proper campaign.
However, the minister is requesting that TransLink’s Mayors’ Council compile a single vision for Metro Vancouver’s regional transit system by the end of June 2014. The provincial government will offer its assistance to facilitate the meetings between the mayors.
If the Mayors’ Council is unable to deliver a coherent vision by this coming June, the referendum could be delayed until the November 2017 municipal election.
Whether a referendum is held in November 2014, in June 2015 or even in November 2017, this will significantly delay the much-needed funding to maintain and expand the region’s severely strained public transit system. Further funding and long-term planning is tied with the implementation of the referendum, and even then an unsuccessful result could set back transit expansion for many more years to come.
Under the current structure, the Mayors’ Council is comprised of the elected mayoral leaders of the region’s 21 municipalities and they have the authority to approve plans prepared by TransLink, including long-term transportation plans, regional funding and borrowing limits. It also currently appoints the Board of Directors for Translink and the Commissioner that oversees the public agency.
In addition to the Mayors’ Council existing powers, Stone has announced that legislation will be implemented to allow the mayors to have more direct influence over the development of TransLink’s long-term plans, strategies and compensation for the Board of Directors.
Source: BC Government | Image: Canada Line bridge via Shutterstock