BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – Metro Vancouver mayors may need to prioritize transportation megaprojects and the province should do more to replace the Pattullo Bridge, according to the new head of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan was voted to replace Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson as council chair after both were nominated. He will take over the role on Jan. 1.
Corrigan assumes the top spot at a time when the Mayors’ Council is juggling multiple large projects as part of its 10-year transportation plan, including a replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, an extension of the Millennium Line under Broadway Avenue to Arbutus Street and extending rapid transit to Newton, Guildford and Langley. The plan has several projects moving forward at the same time.
Corrigan has previously expressed concern with the plan, namely the ambitious timeline, and that while Ottawa has committed funds, the province has not.
“It’s very difficult to be able to go forward with as many major projects as are on the books for TransLink so I think the mayor’s and board are going to have to come to terms with the fact that we have to choose which is going to advance first,” Corrigan said.
The Pattullo Bridge is as the top of Corrigan’s list, however, he adds the province should take over most of the responsibility of planning and building a replacement. That may be a more logical division of labour,” he said. “The provincial government has over the years built a lot of bridges and they are going to be in a better position to supervise whoever eventually is going to be building that bridge.”
The council could then focus its time and resources on other transit projects, Corrigan said, adding he understands there is the potential for the public to get angry if a project that affects them is not prioritized.
Corrigan would also like to see the mayors have more operational control of TransLink and transit rather than being a “funding agency.”
District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton and New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté were both nominated for vice-chair, with Walton winning the majority of the votes. Former vice-chair, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, chose not to run again.
Corrigan attributes the shift in leadership to a desire to support the transit needs of small communities than Vancouver and Surrey.
“I think most of the members of the mayor’s council wanted people in the chair and vice-chair who were more neutral” he said. “[Walton and I] are relatively modest in any of the needs we need in our own communities and we’ll be able to represent, from a regional point of view, what should happen with regard to both the Vancouver and Surrey projects.”