District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton is back in the driver’s seat of the TransLink Mayors’ Council, or at least riding shotgun.
Walton was elected vice-chairman of the 23-member council made up of Lower Mainland leaders last week, joining newly elected chairman Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan. The two replace Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner who had been in those roles for the last three years. Corrigan and Walton will now join the TransLink board as well.
The move came as something of a shock to transit wonks as Corrigan has been a vocal opponent of the Mayors’ Council’s 10-year vision, particularly Surrey light rail and Broadway subway line projects.
“Some of the other mayors had some concerns that Vancouver and Surrey were the two communities that had large capital projects and therefore, by being the only mayors included on the board, it left the rest of us a little bit without a voice. Most communities, like ours, are really interested in buses. It’s buses, buses and buses for us,” Walton said.
But Walton is downplaying concerns that Corrigan will stymie the plan, despite his bellicose rhetoric in the past.
“The Vancouver and Surrey projects are very much a part of the vision. When we came up with the vision three or four years ago, every community made compromises in order to all agree and shake hands,” he said, conceding that Corrigan was the lone No vote against the vision.
“There are 23 of us on the Mayors’ Council. We all think for ourselves. I don’t think (Corrigan’s) chairing the Mayors’ Council is going to have any more impact than it would, really, if he were sitting as a member. ... I don’t have any concerns or I wouldn’t have run with him for vice-chair.”
In the meantime, Walton said he is looking forward to the North Shore getting its first B-line bus, due to start running between Phibbs Exchange and Dundarave in 2019.
“It’s by far the biggest bang for the buck for efficiency in terms of transit dollars. When the B-line is running efficiently across the bottom of the North Shore, it will make a dramatic difference to people moving about,” he said. “Our traffic engineers are going to be working like crazy to figure out how to do it.”