For Langley’s transit users hoping for a faster connection to the rest of Metro Vancouver, the waiting game persists.
Langley City councillor Nathan Pachal is one of only a few elected officials in the region who use transit five days a week, he believes. And he is eager to know what the future of rapid transit will be.
He said that in the interim, while a final verdict between Light Rail Transit and a SkyTrain extension south of the Fraser River, he would like to see some kind of improvement along Fraser Highway, connecting the Langleys and Surrey.
“My preference is anything on the Fraser Highway corridor right now, including bus rapid transit,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed his government’s commitment to put up 50 per cent of funds needed for the Mayors’ Council 10-year plan at a press event in Burnaby on Thursday.
He pledged $616 million commitment to the plan for public transit.
Of that, $370 million comes from the feds and the remaining $246 million from the provincial government. TransLink is contributing another $125 million, bringing the capital funding to $740 million.
“For Langley, right now, it doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot,” said Pachal.
Despite official sign-off on the federal half and the province’s one-third shares of the capital costs, Metro Vancouver mayors and the province have yet to iron out their differences over how the region should generate its 17 per cent share.
“The province basically wants the mayors to raise property taxes. I think it’s probably going be to province saying, ‘Hey, if you want more money, you’re going to have to raise property tax.'”
Mayors last month pressed the province to agree to either a new funding source, such as a vehicle levy, or dedicate $50 million a year from an existing one, such as the carbon tax.
They insist they want the remainder to be financed without subjecting the plan to the uncertainty of another referendum, like the one that defeated the proposed regional 0.5 per cent sales tax last summer and continued a years-long impasse over transit expansion.
While the mayors have previously resisted any voluntary increase in TransLink property taxes, they gave ground on that point when they tabled their funding proposal last month.
It would accelerate TransLink property tax increases to an automatic three per cent a year from the two per cent currently set in provincial legislation.
— With files from Amy Reid and Jeff Nagel, Black Press