Ottawa’s previous promise to provide British Columbia with billions of dollars in funding for infrastructure over the coming decade is now in ink and therefore official.
Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi and BC Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevana signed a bilateral agreement today that will provide BC with over $4.1 billion in federal funding for infrastructure projects to support recreational and cultural infrastructure, rural and northern communities, green infrastructure, and public transit – especially in Metro Vancouver.
“Long-term investments in infrastructure are key to building a strong Canada—connecting people, creating good jobs for the middle class, and building our economy and communities for the future,” said Sohi in a statement.
“We are pleased to have reached a new agreement with British Columbia to invest in infrastructure projects that will benefit all communities for years to come.”
This commitment includes $2.2 billion in federal funding towards public transit, with the lion’s share going towards TransLink’s Mayors’ Council’s 10-year $7-billion Phase Two transit expansion plan, which includes the Millennium Line’s underground Broadway Extension, the new Surrey light rail transit system, and expanded bus service.
And with federal funding now official, it also releases the provincial government’s $2.2 billion in funding outlined in the recent budget, which is a commitment dependent on funding from Ottawa and TransLink.
Both the federal and provincial governments will each cover 40% of the Mayors’ Council’s plan while TransLink will take on the remaining 20%. For years, the challenge with transit expansion was TransLink’s inability to cover the costs through existing revenues, but this was resolved last month when the BC NDP government agreed to new revenue-raising mechanisms for the public transit authority.
Most of the major provincial jurisdictions have already signed similar agreements with Ottawa for their respective infrastructure projects, but the federal government delayed its agreement with BC due to the uncertainty over transit funding from the previous BC Liberal government.
Now that funding is confirmed, planning on Phase Two will begin to quickly accelerate towards implementation.
With RFPs issued out to potential private contractors later this year, construction on both mega projects could begin in 2019 for a 2024 completion of the 11-km-long first phase Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT line and a 2025 completion of the Broadway Extension.
“This agreement between the Province of BC and the federal government moves us even closer to being able to deliver a whole host of transit and transportation improvements which will keep our region livable for years to come,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond.
The federal government is spending $33 billion in new infrastructure across the country, including over $20 billion towards public transit.