TransLink spending under fire
The entire mayors' council is asking for an audit of TransLink before any new taxes or tolls are added to fund its upgraded transit plan, which is still $30 million short.
Gas prices are already set to go up two cents per litre in April, but if city mayors and the province can't find another way to fund the upgrades, Metro Vancouver residents can also expect a property tax hike next year.
"We cannot go out to the general public and say ‘here's a plan, we need it funded' and not have any benchmarks in terms of making sure that every dollar gets spent in the correct priority," said Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.
People living south of the Fraser River will soon have to pay tolls on the new Port Mann Bridge and Watts feels an audit may help to justify any extra demands on taxpayers' wallets.
A recent letter from TransLink also has Watts questioning its spending decisions.
The fund-seeking transit company hired Ipsos Reid to conduct a communications survey with 170 stakeholders. However, TransLink also promised a charitable donation of $100 per response.
Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom said it would be up to the mayors to decide if an audit goes forward.
"I think what they are looking for is some security as they look to new funding tools, that the public is assured that TransLink is running efficiently," Lekstrom said. "I don't think it's an unreasonable request."
TransLink would not comment Thursday on the idea of an audit -- but said it would fully cooperate with such a process.