Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. First in Line for Major Transit Upgrades as Trudeau Hands over Vowed Cash

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. First in Line for Major Transit Upgrades as Trudeau Hands over Vowed Cash

Article excerpt

Trudeau jumpstarts vowed transit upgrades in B.C.

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BURNABY, B.C. - British Columbia has become the first province to reap dollars for its transit system under the federal government's ambitious multibillion-dollar infrastructure program, with more deals expected to be signed elsewhere in Canada next week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa will hand B.C. its previously earmarked $460 million to help pay for upgrades to existing transit infrastructure, including renovations to aging stations and buying new rapid-transit cars.

"I'm proud that the very first such agreement that we've signed is right here in British Columbia, although we are working hard to close deals with other provinces," Trudeau said Thursday at the SkyTrain operations centre in Burnaby.

He said $370 million has been allocated for transit projects in Metro Vancouver, while a total of $934 will be invested in public transit across B.C. when provincial and municipal contributions are included.

The money comes after Metro Vancouver mayors have spent years trying to find ways to pay for upgrades and expansions to a transit system that is inadequate for a growing population. An estimated one million more residents are expected to move to the region over the next 30 years.

On Wednesday, a Senate committee warned that none of the $6.8 billion in infrastructure money promised to cities and provinces for transit, green and social infrastructure had flowed because of a lack of funding agreements.

At least two more deals could be signed next week in other jurisdictions, and the remainder of the promised agreements could be inked with all provinces and territories within months, an Infrastructure Canada spokeswoman said.

"(Negotiations) are going well in many provinces," Kate Monfette said from Ottawa after Thursday's announcement.

"If things continue the way they are going, by the end of the summer we're confident that we could sign everything."

Monfette wouldn't specify which deals are making swiftest progress, but noted funding agreements will cover projects that started as of April 1.

She said it was "a close race" among provinces to procure funding first and that B. …

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