REALITY CHECK: Another empty promise from Falcon: I will address South Island transportation issues

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In an attempt to gain South Vancouver Island votes, B.C. Liberal leadership hopeful Kevin Falcon promised this week to address transportation issues in the Greater Victoria area.

Citing the Evergreen Line as an example of how he gets work done, Kevin Falcon said addressing congestion in the area is just a matter of all the levels of government agreeing on a plan and moving forward.

The truth is, years after it was first promised by Kevin Falcon and the B.C. Liberals, work on the Evergreen Line has yet to begin.

And the only level of government that has stalled on light rail on South Vancouver Island is the B.C. Liberal provincial government.

The Claim

  • “When you look at the Colwood crawl, and you listen to what people are talking about, it seems to me that now is the time we’ve got to pull together all the partners. And if there’s a willingness amongst the local leaders, local community leaders and mayors to deal with this, and really put our shoulder to the wheel, I’m prepared to provide the leadership to get it done” (Kevin Falcon, CFAX, Jan. 20, 2011).

The Truth

  • Kevin Falcon and the B.C. Liberals have consistently ignored the needs of southern Vancouver Island when it comes to commuter rail transit. In 2008 the B.C. Liberals funded a few buses in the area but wouldn’t pay for much-needed rail transit, saying “we haven't seen a business case yet that can justify that particular investment” (Kevin Falcon, Times Colonist, Jan. 15, 2008).
  • But on Thursday Kevin Falcon showed he never took rail transit on the Island seriously, saying “The business case on the E&N was very tough. Now I have to be honest, I didn’t have a chance to read all of it” (Kevin Falcon, CFAX, Jan. 20, 2011).

The Claim

  • “Because the key about a major project is you’ve just got to get moving. You’ve got to demonstrate action…That’s how I got the Evergreen Line initiated” (Kevin Falcon, CFAX, Jan. 20, 2011).

The Truth

  • The Evergreen Line is better known as an example of how to not get things done.
  • In 2007, the B.C. Liberals finally committed to building the Evergreen Line after years of pressure from local governments. A year later, then Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon admitted, “Frankly, there's been way too much talk about this project and not enough on the delivery side,” but in the same year only committed partial funding for the line. The project didn’t get started.
  • In 2009, the line is still underfunded due in part to financial issues at Translink after Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon changes the structure and funding model of the organization.
  • In 2010, the B.C. Liberals re-announced the Evergreen Line, pushing back the completion date to 2014. The B.C. Liberals still hadn’t delivered full funding for the project.
  • To date, no shovels have hit the ground, and the project is $173 million short on funding, even if Translink manages to find their committed share of $400 million.