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The Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
By Jeff Lee

New Tory government may get Metro Vancouver projects moving: Robertson

VANCOUVER — Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said he hopes the new federal Conservative government will pave the way for resolving a number of important city issues, including major improvements to public transportation, housing and a long-stalled senior's centre.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Photograph by: Les Bazso, Png, Vancouver Sun

In an interview Tuesday Robertson congratulated Prime Minister Stephen Harper on obtaining a majority government, saying the city and the Conservatives have a history of working together on important projects.

"We've had a strong relationship with the federal Conservatives through the Olympics, Metro Vancouver Commerce's Olympic business program as well as the federal stimulus projects. So three very successful partnerships with solid outcomes. So I'm bullish about our ongoing relationship and getting results for the city," he said. "Having a Conservative MP in Vancouver will help."

But Robertson said he's also hoping the senior's centre will now go ahead, especially since Wai Young, the new MP for Vancouver South,, has promised to fight for the $7.8 million project at Killarney Community Centre.

"The South Van Seniors Centre is a priority for us and we've earmarked the capital dollars and the park board has provided the land. The new MP Wai Young has made positive comments about getting that delivered.

"That is one project that I think has good odds for getting done soon. That would be a nice boost for seniors in South Van."

The city has provided $2.5 million, but needs cooperative funding from both the province and Ottawa.

Young said the senior's centre was never taken to government by Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh, whom she defeated Monday night, but she promised to look into the request and see what she can do.

Robertson said the city and region also need to move ahead with a number of transportation improvements, including the proposed UBC transit line and extension of SkyTrain in Surrey.

"The next phase of public transit investment is held up by the province and TransLink crafting a new funding model. I am hopeful we will see resolution on that this year with the new premier (Christy Clark). She's going to want to get beyond the impasse," Robertson said.

"At that point we will need ongoing commitments from the federal government for the next stage of projects. They've committed to the Evergreen project, but the ensuing projects - Broadway Line, Surrey rapid transit and improvements throughout the region will need federal support. We're hopeful."

With the Conservatives committed to eliminating a $56 billion deficit, Robertson said he knows there won't be a lot of money available for municipalities. But he said Ottawa could make some changes to help spur construction.

"I am more hopeful for rental housing incentives from the federal government. We are hoping for a suite of incentives that would not be a cash draw but could spark a resurgence in rental housing construction."

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