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July 3, 2019, 10:10 am

Sea-to-Sky Governments Urge Province to Consider Creative Funding Solutions for Regional Transit System

District of Squamish

SQUAMISH - A regional transit committee, comprised of the District of Squamish, Líl’wat Nation, Resort Municipality of Whistler, Squamish Nation, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and Village of Pemberton, is urging the Province of British Columbia to look at creative funding solutions for a regional transit system in the Sea-to-Sky region. The province has declined a proposed funding model recently put forward by the committee. 

In November 2018, the Sea-to-Sky committee proposed a funding model based on the current provincial/municipal cost-sharing formula for local transit, ridership fares, property tax and a motor fuel tax of 2.5 cents to help offset the costs of initiating a regional transit service.

Similar funding models are in use in the Capital Regional District and the Lower Mainland, however the province no longer considers this model sustainable in the long-term. The committee strongly feels that it is a viable model in the Sea-to-Sky in the short- to medium-term and still hopes the province could change its mind. The committee is asking the province for greater collaboration and creativity to reach a viable funding solution, while the province is asking the Sea-to-Sky governments to get creative and come up with a funding solution.

The Sea-to-Sky governments and the province are aligned on the many benefits of regional transit. These include: fewer single use vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and congestion; avoids the need to further upgrade the Sea to Sky Highway; furthers Truth and Reconciliation by connecting First Nations communities to work, family and health services through transit; and creates economic opportunity through increased mobility and community connectedness throughout the Corridor.

With 10 million annual car trips on the Sea to Sky Highway, the time to act is now.

The Sea-to-Sky regional transit committee was formed as a step toward the eventual creation of a Regional Transit Commission (RTC) that would govern and operate the regional transit service. The province has committed to reviewing RTC legislation to enable First Nations to be represented.

The level of service for a regional transit system was proposed by a BC Transit study that included community input in 2017, and would initially see eight buses on the road, offering 15,100 hours of service between Metro Vancouver and Mt. Currie.
 

Quotes:

“We have worked in good faith with the province, and will continue to do so. We are disappointed that we don’t yet have an agreed-to approach, as this has a profoundly negative impact on the citizens in the corridor, but will keep pushing for a viable solution that can be supported by Victoria.”

- Tony Rainbow, Chair, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District

“Municipalities, by legislation, have limited means of raising funds. We need help from the province to identify additional funds beyond what we are able to contribute to fund transit service across a large rural area. The province has many more tools available, and we believe there is a way to create opportunities for regional transit services in more communities across British Columbia by working together."

- Karen Elliott, Mayor, District of Squamish

"The province has an opportunity to action the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples. Our most northern and southern villages from Chiyak'mus (Cheakamus) in Paradise Valley to St’a7mes (Stawamus) where our Totem Hall, Squamish Nation Administration and recreation building, daycare, preschool, businesses and oldest village site are located, are lacking bus service to utilize those areas either to work, visit or live. Travel between Squamish and North Vancouver villages are also important linkages that don’t currently exist. When we talk about the Highway of Tears and our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, how can we work towards prevention?"

- Kalkallh Deanna Lewis, Squamish Nation Council

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