The David Suzuki Foundation is urging BC and Vancouver’s political leaders to put aside their differences and create a common front to negotiate transit funding with the federal government. The Foundation sent an open letter to various politicians on May 18, 2016. Transport Action BC is a signatory to this letter.
The federal government has started providing funding ($840 million to Toronto; $900,000 to Whitehorse) to other centres so it is urgent for BC’s politicians to work together and put forward a unified stance when dealing Ottawa on the transit funding issue.
The text of the letter follows.
The Hon. Christy Clark
Premier of British Columbia
Office of the Premier
Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council
Cc: Hon. Todd Stone; Hon. Peter Fassbender
Re: A call for leadership to invest in transit and transportation in Metro Vancouver
Dear Premier Clark and Members of the Mayors’ Council,
We the undersigned are a diverse group of organizations from business, labour, health, environment and student associations working together to advocate for investment in Metro Vancouver’s transportation system.
We are writing to urge you to act quickly and take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the recent federal budget to improve transit and transportation in our region. As you know, in its budget, the federal government made a commitment to a $370 million “down payment” toward the 10-year Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation Plan. The federal government has also shown tremendous leadership by agreeing to pay 50 per cent of all capital transit costs provided agreements can be struck with the province and local mayors.
These commitments have changed the landscape for transit funding in our region, but with this opportunity comes a challenge: we need to be ready with regional and provincial funding, or else these federal dollars, collected from local taxpayers, will go to other cities and provinces that are ready. For the good of our economy and the health and livelihood of citizens, this cannot happen. We are calling on the province and the Mayors’ Council to work together to ensure that we are ready to get Metro Vancouver moving again.
Expansion of transit services — especially when they’re electrified — is crucial for Metro Vancouver to improve air quality and health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic development and job growth.
A growing number of studies confirm that congestion costs our region more than $1 billion each year due to lost productivity, increased operating costs and lost business revenue and regional GDP. It has been estimated that investment in transit could save the health care system at least $115 million annually, and likely considerably more if the benefits of increased physical activity were also included as part of the cost-savings analysis.
We ask you show leadership by putting history and political differences aside to work together and ensure we are ready to take full advantage of federal support and start improving transit and transportation. Adding new federal dollars is an essential prerequisite for moving ahead with stalled transit improvements so badly needed for the Metro Vancouver region, and for B.C. as a whole.
Lastly, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of using newly available federal funds to implement the full set of regional transportation improvements outlined in the Mayors’ Council Transportation and Transit Plan rather than a few projects here and there. A regional approach to transportation investments will ensure that Metro Vancouver residents and businesses throughout the region will benefit. Local and provincial governments have the power to help us make history in B.C. and Metro Vancouver through implementation of a world-class provincial and regional transportation plan.
Should you require more information, we would be happy to meet with you or your staff.
Thank you for considering this request.
BC Federation of Labour
BC Healthy Living Alliance
BC Teachers’ Federation
British Columbia Golf
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Clean Energy Canada
Connecting Environmental Professionals – Vancouver Chapter
The David Suzuki Foundation
Disability Alliance BC
Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association
Downtown Vancouver Association
Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association
Dr. Lisa J. Jing Mu, Medical Health Officer, Fraser Region
Gordon Price, Director of the SFU City Program
Graduate Student Society at SFU
HandyDART Riders Alliance
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Peter Ladner, Columnist, Business in Vancouver Media Group
Public Health Association of BC
Renewal Funds Company
Transport Action – British Columbia
Vanterre Projects Corp
Victoria Lee MD MPH MBA CCFP FRCPC, Chief Medical Health Officer, Fraser Health Authority