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Jackson blasts role mayors are playing

CureCongestion campaign surveys parties on transportation plan and provides guide to voters
Mayor Lois Jackson wonders why the #CureCongestion voters’ guide does not include any mention of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.

The Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation should stay out of trying to influence the provincial election. That's the message from Delta Mayor Lois Jackson following the launch last week of the #CureCongestion campaign.

The campaign asked all three main parties for their positions and commitments on the mayors' 10-year vision, which includes light rail for Surrey, a Broadway subway and replacing the Pattullo Bridge.

After reviewing the three parties' platforms and responses to a questionnaire, the Mayors' Council published a scorecard. Only the NDP scored five out of five.

Jackson was away in Ottawa on municipal business when the campaign was voted on. Had she been at the meeting, she said should would have voted against it.

"I've stated from the beginning that I don't think that we should, as a mayor's group, get involved in the provincial campaign. Yes we can tell people what our situation is, what our plan is and what we would look forward to, but I don't think we should be leading people to make a certain vote for a certain party."

The six-term mayor said she is not necessarily against the campaign, but is against having a group of mayors influence an election.

"I really believe that we have to stay out of the politics of it and send our message strong and clear to whoever is the successor. I think this goes too far," she said. "We need to encourage people to get out to vote, but vote as you wish. Know the facts. Here at the facts from the TransLink area, but in terms of comparing parties and encouraging people to vote in a certain direction, I have a problem with that."

Mike Buda, executive director of the TransLink Mayors' Council Secretariat, said the mayors' council thought it was important during the provincial campaign that voters had an opportunity to learn as much as they could about their 10-year vision, and the importance of transit and transportation.

"Voters need to understand the kind of role the mayors' council is looking for of the next provincial government to support that 10-year vision," said Buda.

The voters' guide does not include any mention of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project. When asked why it was not included, Buda said the 10-year vision is focused on assets and services that are owned and run by TransLink.

"So the Massey Bridge, just like other provincial infrastructure, isn't something that TransLink is responsible for and the mayors'council does not have a position on it because it's not their bridge," he said.

"I certainly understand the position of Mayor Jackson advocating hard to the province and the feds for funding to address the issues. At the end of the day, it's a provincial road or bridge and it's up to the province to address that," Buda added.

Jackson said Buda's rationale doesn't hold up.

"It is a huge connector for the west side of the Lower Mainland and to have it totally ignored in this fashion is quite insulting frankly and quite unacceptable to me. We have been working on this current proposal for five long years and to not have any mention of a proposal of this nature in the study is baffling.

"They are talking about the Pattullo Bridge and that hasn't been on the books nearly as long, so to my way of thinking, the argument that the Massey project is a provincial project is very thin."