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'We've got the money' for transit, says Green candidate Rees

Transportation guru Stephen Rees, Green Party candidate for Richmond East, said that funneling Metro Vancouver's carbon tax revenue to Translink isn't necessary to achieve better public transportation in the region.

He spoke at a press conference today about the Green Party's liveable cities plan, which includes investing in light rail transit, canceling the Gateway program and providing funding for co-op and non-profit housing.

"The purpose of our plan is to start giving people some choices," said Rees. "One of the things you notice about living in Greater Vancouver is that for most people getting around means driving. For a long time we’ve said we’d like to increase the transit mode share."

When asked what he thought of the Mayor's Council on Regional Transportation's appeal for carbon tax revenue to make up a $450 million shortfall, Rees said that asking 'where do you get the money for public transit' was a "tired old argument."

"We've got the money," he said, pointing to the $3.1 billion Port Mann Bridge.

Party leader Jane Sterk also called Vancouver's new $883 million convention centre a "waste of money" that could have been better spent on transit or housing.

"We're not a party that would have supported that big project," she said, in response to a reporter's question asking what she thought of the centre's green roof.

Sterk also said municipalities need more money for green infrastructure, and said the provincial share of federal tax dollars should at least double.

Rees said that most people in the Greater Vancouver area move from suburb to suburb, not to downtown Vancouver, and said that Fraser Valley suburbs could be serviced by passenger rail cars on the Interurban line immediately.

He said he was initially approached to run in the Fraser Valley, but didn't want to commute.

"I'm not afraid of getting elected," he joked -- noting that Richmond East is a Liberal stronghold -- but said he wanted to join the Greens because he felt they had the best policies.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Hook.

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