Mission Mayor Randy Hawes would like to see Abbotsford pay for some of the costs associated with the district’s West Coast Express (WCE) station, but he isn’t holding his breath.
The district pays nearly $1 million for train and Train Bus services, but Hawes would like to see the City of Abbotsford contribute because its residents also use the rail link to get to Vancouver.
“Probably the majority of the people who take the train … in the morning are from Abbotsford, and they’re not paying,” Hawes told The Record.
He raised the issue at a February joint meeting of council, telling participants that “if costs continue to rise the District of Mission may require support from Abbotsford,” according to minutes from the meeting.
Hawes said it’s not the first time he’s suggested Abbotsford pay, and he’s not optimistic the city will actually contribute.
Abbotsford, so far, hasn’t been receptive to the idea, and Hawes says there’s nothing Mission can do to force their hand.
“It would be nice if they contributed, but to be honest we have nothing to compel them to do it, so I’m not holding my breath,” he said. “It’s not fair, but who said life is fair?”
Hawes also suggested that the service could be paid for through the regional district.
“It seems to me it is a regional service.”
The cost of the WCE has risen substantially since Translink signed a new agreement with the District of Mission in 2011. That year, the district listed just $316,062 in costs associated with the WCE, with it fairly evenly split between train and bus services. The new agreement saw Mission’s share of contributions rise from five to 20 per cent for its portion of the service, and in 2015, the district had $980,000 budgeted for the two services, with the train responsible for $780,600.
The agreement expires this year, although the district retains the option to extend it until 2019.
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun was out of town, but city manager George Murray said in a written statement that ““Any proposals from Mission city council would have to be reviewed by Abbotsford city council.
“As Mission continues their discussions with TransLink I expect that Mayor Hawes will likely continue to provide Abbotsford with information he feels is relevant.”