Jeff Nagel in BC Local News does a good job of keeping track of the unfolding Translink funding saga. I do not usually indulge in trying to foretell the future but in this case it is pretty easy to see that the Mayors really have no other option. If they refuse to pass the fare and tax increases they will not, as Mayor Corrigan suggests, look like heroes fighting the wicked provincial government. They will be the [insert rude word for the plural of a body orifice here] who brought about transit service cuts – which are even less popular than fare increases. The “consultation” exercise really boiled down to the the simple question, ‘Given that you do not want service cuts, would you rather see a fare increase or a property tax increase?’ The Minister of Transport must have been aware at the recent meeting with the Mayors that they simply cannot put their own positions so clearly on the line that an increase in property taxes would mean. The public are likely to accept that the Mayor did his or her best over this decision – but an increase in property tax is simply asking to be kicked in the ballot.
Corrigan can of course enjoy his maverick path because he can be confident that the other Mayors will not follow him. This gives him the opportunity to grab the spotlight and say all kinds of stuff, but with no fear of consequences. He is wrong about the timing of course, because a revolt now would have no impact on the Olympics. Those arrangements are already made, and Campbell has made it clear that although lots of other things can and are being cut (though he does back off a bit when the noise gets to him) the Olympics are untouchable fiscally. He is committed to make the Olympics work and nothing the Mayors might do is going to get in the way of that.
The timing of the Provincial review is also interesting. It is not yet available. Of course. So if the Mayors do vote for service cuts, Campbell – or more likely Shirley Bond – can trot out the “they did not look for economies” nonsense. So the choice for the Mayors is, as usual Hobson’s choice – no choice at all. Expansion has been taken off the table by Martin Crilly. Property tax increases taken off by the Mayors. Anything else is outside the legislative straight jacket fitted onto Translink by the province. This makes predictions reasonably easy. But note he said “likely” and not “certain” – for nothing is certain. But it is a very slim chance that they will opt for cuts.
UPDATE It was approved on Friday October 23