TransLink approves spending plan

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — TransLink is moving ahead with a plan that will see $1.9 billion injected into the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s (GVRDs) roads, bridges and public transit system.

The spending was approved yesterday, as was the method of raising the funds higher transit fares, a new parking fee and increased property taxes. TransLink is expecting to raise about $100 million per year through the new fees and tax increases.

“We have parts of the plan that people don’t like and we need to work with those people as we go over the next few years . . . to listen to their concerns,” said TransLink chairman, Doug McCallum. “I think it’s a historic day for transportation in our region, that we’re going to move ahead now.”

The B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) had urged TransLink to abandon some of the high cost items included in its future plan, including its $370 million contribution to a transit line connecting the Richmond airport with Vancouver. Vancouver Coun. Fred Bass, who sits on the TransLink board, agreed with the BCTA on that point and voted against the plan.

“To push through a plan that incorporates the biggest public project ever to be done (in the Lower Mainland) and to not have the money in hand, not know where it’s coming from, and to spend all our money on RAV and roads is wrong,” Bass told local media.

Roads will be the major benefactor of the new spending, with about $105 million earmarked for major roads in the Vancouver region. Minor roads will see $60 million in improvements.

The new Fraser River crossing will proceed, with the bulk of the $600 million tab to be covered by tolls. Also, rehabilitation of the Pattullo, Knight St. and Westham Island Bridges will occur at a cost of $54 million.

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