Kelly Sinoski writes in the Sun:

The B.C. Liberals are expected to pledge $246 million Thursday to expand Metro Vancouver’s transit system, but property taxes and transit fares will likely have to go up to cover TransLink’s contribution to the plan. . .

. . . Fassbender said the provincial funding was approved after mayors suggested they could cover TransLink’s $124-million share of costs through existing funding sources, such as raising property taxes and fares and selling surplus properties. He would not go into further details, saying that was up to the mayors. TransLink is authorized to collect a certain amount of property taxes each year for transportation.

Mayors acknowledged they have pitched a mix of existing and new funding sources, such as a vehicle levy or regional carbon tax, to fund transportation.

“The fact that they are prepared to look at that is a step in the right direction,” Fassbender said. “My understanding from the mayors’ plan is they will be able to meet the regional share through existing funding sources.”

Once that’s done, he added, the parties can work together on new funding sources, such as creating developer fees for high density along transit corridors. Municipalities already collect charges from developers for amenities such as pools, parks and affordable housing, and have pitched the idea of transportation fees as a way to inject much-needed cash into the beleaguered transit system. 

This is 33% of the expected amount needed in the first round.  It appears to set the funding formula in place (50 – 33 – 17), which should carry over into the distribution of the much larger Federal funding now on the table.

If this initial round ($124M)  is financed by the Mayors through existing funding sources, I expect that funding for the next, much larger round will have to include other, newer sources — perhaps some of them under Provincial control. There is a hint here — in a mention of “transportation fees”.

Meanwhile — just how interested is the public?

Fassbender’s announcement coincides with a new survey by Angus Reid Global that found 90 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents believe a regional multi-year transportation plan should be rolled out immediately to improve housing affordability. The survey suggests two in five residents say transportation is one of the two most important issues facing the region today, second only to housing affordability.

About 88 per cent of those surveyed are worried that high housing prices in Metro are exacerbating regional transportation issues because it forces people to live farther away from work, family and friends, while 39 per cent say they are frustrated getting around the region — whether they drive or take transit — and believe the experience is only going to get worse over the next five years.