Fassbender’s U-turn on vehicle levy signals continuing chaos in BC funding plans

skytrainIt took Peter Fassbender, minister responsible for Translink, only a few hours yesterday to complete a double U-turn on Victoria’s transit funding policy, declaring first that a referendum would not be needed to impose a vehicle levy and then admitting that it would.

“Mea culpa, ” Fassbender said as he completed the maneuvre. “I misspoke . . .I apologize.”

Metro mayors were dumbfounded at Fassbender’s comments. Premier Christy Clark had expressly said a vehicle levy would require a referendum, even though it’s in Translink’s legislation as a permissible funding source.

It was a strange error from the man appointed by the Premier to take over the Translink file from Transportation Minister Todd Stone. (Fassbender is also expected to resolve the vexed question of how to impose ride-sharing on the taxi industry.)

If the minister is not clear on the policy, who is? The Metro mayors are working around-the-clock to put together an infrastructure funding proposal for Ottawa before the federal budget, which is coming down March 22.

What they need most of all, at the moment, is a co-operative partner in Victoria at a time when Ottawa is signalling it is prepared to up its share of capital funding to 50 percent.