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Gas tax funding won't solve TransLink's financial woes: Mayors' Council chair

Last Updated Jun 1, 2020 at 1:15 pm PDT

(Photo by Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)
Summary

Head of Mayors' Council says fast-tracked gas tax funding won't help TransLink's financial problems

Federal government announced the funding Monday to help municipalities struggling during the pandemic

TransLink has been losing $75 million a month during COVID-19 shutdowns

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The federal government’s move to fast track the gas tax isn’t going to help TransLink’s financial woes, according to the head of the Mayors’ Council.

Jonathan Cote explains that money is only earmarked for infrastructure spending.

“We use the gas-tax funding to buy infrastructure like new buses. Speeding up and buying buses earlier actually doesn’t address the financial challenges TransLink is facing,” he says.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would be sending gas-tax funds months ahead of schedule to help municipalities struggling during the pandemic. It is part of the $2.2 billion in the form of an accelerated GST rebate to support communities as the country slowly eases restrictions brought in to help weather the health crisis.

Cote says the funding would only benefit TransLink if it was combined with a relief program for transit agencies.

RELATED: Feds announce $2B for struggling municipalities

Even though the funding won’t fix all of the transit company’s financial situation, Cote says he’s still hopeful the federal government will be able to provide some additional relief for local transit authorities across Canada.

“Metro Vancouver isn’t the only transit agency in Canada that is suffering a lot because of COVID-19,” Cote says. “We’ve been working hard to show this is a national issue.”

“Discussions with the federal government are still ongoing and I know the provincial governments are also working hard to have the federal government recognize the value that the transit systems play to rebuilding our economy and that we cannot allow these systems to fail.”

Translink has been shedding $75-million a month during the COVID-19 shutdowns. However, it has starting to collect bus fares again, which would make up for some of those losses.

-With files from Cormac Mac Sweeney, Hana Mae Nassar, and the Canadian Press