News / Vancouver

Mayor Gregor Robertson to ask feds for transit money

Picture a Vancouver full of transit, tech jobs, affordable housing and green living – that’s how Mayor Gregor Robertson sees the city in 38 years.

But first, the city needs to secure transit funding.

Robertson spouted these familiar messages to hundreds of real estate industry professionals at an Urban Land Institute lunch Tuesday, potentially the very developers building mega-projects that could line the city’s coffers.

“We cannot control everything that affects our future, but certainly we can talk about and decide what kind of city we want and what kind of action steps we take to get there,” Robertson said.

The mayor’s immediate priorities are underground rapid transit along the Broadway corridor and building walkable neighbourhoods, he told reporters after his speech.

One of his first steps will be to ask for federal funding for desperately needed transit in major cities on behalf of big city mayors in Ottawa next week, he said.

Broadway transit is “crucial” to Vancouver, he said, and could be funded with road tolls – no particular roads have been chosen – and carbon taxes, not property taxes.

Without the province’s approval, these funding mechanisms can’t be put in place. It will be an election issue if the legislature doesn’t approve these options by February 2013, Robertson said.

When construction finally begins, the city will look at compensating businesses that could be affected by the project to avoid the “mess” that Cambie Street merchants experienced during the Canada Line’s construction, he added.

Seattle’s $2-billion transit expansion paid about $25 million to affected parties, he said.

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