Abbotsford council shot down a plan for an inter-city bus running between Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley on Monday, despite the proposal receiving approval from the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) and the City of Chilliwack.
But Mayor Bruce Banman said that with two councillors absent from the meeting – and the additional absence of Coun. Simon Gibson, who was elected to the legislature – he will bring the issue back to be voted on again.
After a presentation by representatives from the FVRD, BC Transit, and the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) – who provided an explanation of the plan in further detail, including costs – council was asked to approve a bylaw that would allow the group to take the next step towards making the bus route a reality.
Paul Gipps, chief administrative officer of FVRD, said that inter-city transit is needed, citing the great success of the UFV Shuttle between campuses, and asked council to allow the plan to go to the next step in planning, which would include determining routes, schedules and fares.
But Coun. Henry Braun said he had concerns about the price tag associated with the service, which would see BC Transit pay about 50 per cent of the cost. Abbotsford would pay 63.8 per cent of the remaining costs (roughly $588.236) and Chilliwack pay 36.2 per cent (roughly $333,764.) Braun said he didn’t support a plan that had two cities paying for the service, while Langley paid nothing.
He said that taxpayers in Abbotsford already subsidize the city’s transit plan.
“At what point do we say, enough is enough?” asked Braun.
Coun. Patricia Ross said that the service is very much needed in the community and it isn’t fair to compare the new service to buses within the city. She added that council’s approval on Monday wouldn’t even be final.
But Braun said he wanted assurance that the city wouldn’t be locked into the plan once more details were finalized.
“I don’t hear the taxpayer clamoring for this service.”
Banman said that as the approval wouldn’t truly be final, “there is no reason not to pass this.” He advised council to pass the bylaw, allowing further research and more formal plans to be made.
However, council’s vote was split and the motion failed.
Ross, Banman and Coun. Dave Loewen were in support of the plan, while Braun, Coun. Moe Gill and Coun. Les Barkman were opposed. Councillors John Smith and Bill MacGregor were absent from the meeting.
Banman said after the meeting that he is “at a loss as to why we wouldn’t pass this.”
He said he has the ability to bring the issue back at an upcoming council meeting, “and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”