We have a bridge to sell you, Victoria.
The Golden Ears Bridge is the last bridge in the Metro Vancouver area to be under control of the transit authority.
Every other major bridge in B.C. is under the control either of the province or of a municipal government.
That makes the Golden Ears, linking Langley and Maple Ridge, the odd span out. And it shouldn’t be.
TransLink’s job, since it was carved out of BC Transit some decades ago, was to oversee buses, SkyTrains, and other public transit in the province’s biggest metropolitan area.
Successive NDP and Liberal provincial governments gave it plenty of responsibilities, but rather less in the way of tools.
The Mayors’ Council that oversees TransLink has essentially three major tools – tolls, property taxes, and gas taxes.
None of those are terribly popular. The mayors, who have to worry about local voters who can show up at council meetings, have been loathe to increase any of those. Similarly, provincial transportation ministers have been quite pleased to wash their hands of any TransLink funding issues in the name of “local control.”
It’s been a recipe for inaction and underfunding.
British Columbia should take on the bridge, as major transportation infrastructure from Tofino to Peace River clearly falls under its purview.
Getting the bridges off TransLink’s books will help free the local agency to focus on what it’s supposed to do – get public transit moving.
It’s a small step, but anything that helps break the transit funding logjam is welcome.