VANCOUVER — The David Suzuki Foundation is encouraged by the recent attention being paid to increasing public transit funding in the lead-up to the May 9 B.C. election.
"Alleviating B.C. and Metro Vancouver's traffic and transit congestion crisis and enhancing our environmental leadership must be a top priority for B.C.'s next government," said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. "It's reassuring to see that all political parties are now talking about increasing the province's investment to expand transit infrastructure and provide better service for British Columbians."
The Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council 10-year transportation improvement plan got a step closer to being realized today with a commitment from the B.C. government to match, dollar for dollar, the federal government's $2.2 billion commitment for two new rapid transit lines in the region. Although significant work is still needed to reach a final agreement to fund these transit projects and the region's broader transportation plan, the B.C. government has promised a larger financial investment with the provincial election approaching.
The David Suzuki Foundation sees the need for two key ingredients to secure a successful deal to improve transportation and alleviate congestion in Metro Vancouver.
First, B.C.'s next government will need to commit to increasing provincial investments so that the full $8 billion Metro Vancouver transportation plan (and a more extensive plan for B.C. overall) can move forward.
Second, B.C. must increase the provincial contribution to bring it closer to the 2008 transit plan framework of a 43 per cent provincial share.
B.C.'s next government will also need to change legislation to empower Metro Vancouver to raise new revenues to help pay for the local contribution from cash-strapped municipal governments. Only the province has the fiscal power and legislative authority to create the new revenue tools needed to close the gap. Without those tools, Metro Vancouver's transportation and transit plan is at risk and traffic congestion will worsen, affecting quality of life in the region.
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For more information, contact:
Ian Bruce, Science and Policy Director, David Suzuki Foundation