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Referendum on Vancouver transit funding could be delayed until 2015

A SkyTrain commuter train travels into downtown Vancouver on April 11, 2012.

Darryl Dyck/The Globe and Mail

The B.C government says it's willing to delay until June 2015 a controversial referendum asking voters how to fund transit expansion in Metro Vancouver if mayors come up with a new, costed vision for transit expansion.

The referendum, a key piece of the B.C. Liberal platform in the 2013 provincial election, was originally supposed to be held alongside November 2014 municipal elections.

But Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced a new approach on Thursday.

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Mindful of the mayors' calls for more control over TransLink, the regional transportation authority, Mr. Stone said he is prepared to legislate change to increase mayoral authority over TransLink's long-term strategies and projects.

Under the reforms, TransLink's board would oversee operations, budgets and plans consistent with strategies and plans of the mayors.

Following its 1999 creation, TransLink decisions were made by a board of mayors and councils, but in 2007 the Liberals transferred power to unelected directors.

Mr. Stone also said new funding sources for billions of dollars in transit expansion will have to be generated in the region and not subsidized by taxpayers elsewhere.

And he said the province will pay one-third of major capital funding if it's restricted to new rapid-transit capital and the replacement of the aging Puttullo Bridge in Surrey.

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