Our View: Show us that LRT money

If B.C. Transit’s executives don’t want to come across as Lyle Lanley, they had better scale back their sales pitch and start working a little harder on ensuring local taxpayers get the transparency they’re demanding.

If B.C. Transit’s executives don’t want to come across as Lyle Lanley, they had better scale back their sales pitch and start working a little harder on ensuring local taxpayers get the transparency they’re demanding.

Lanley was the silver-tongued pitchman for  the monorail in one of the more memorable episodes of The Simpsons. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s enough to say the story of a love affair with a form of light rapid transit ended badly.

In Greater Victoria, there’s no denying the vast majority of people would love to see LRT in our region. The promise of greener transportation that provides an alternative to getting mired in the Colwood Crawl is enthralling.

However, taxpayers simply can’t go ahead with LRT regardless of the cost. And the big problem we’re seeing in the early stages of the plan is that big money is already being spent without any real accountability to the people who will foot the bill.

A business report has already been completed at a cost of $3.1 million – an amount that came as a surprise to the regional transit commission, whose representatives we entrust with protecting the best interests of their communities.

That cost was split between the province and local taxpayers, who fund the commission.

Another $5 million, which may or may not also be shared by the feds, is already earmarked for a business case that will add details to the $1-billion plan for LRT.

Before that money is spent, B.C. Transit needs to take a step back and reassure the public that it has secured federal and provincial grants to cover the cost of its grand plan.

If it can’t, local taxpayers must be consulted on whether we’re willing to risk going ahead with the project without assurances that we won’t be left paying the bill – after it’s too late to rethink our LRT love affair.