REGIONAL BRIEFS: SeaBus tariffs may bite, warns NDP

TransLink last month picked low bidder Damen Shipyards of The Netherlands rather than a North Vancouver shipyard to build the new SeaBus for $25 million. -
TransLink last month picked low bidder Damen Shipyards of The Netherlands rather than a North Vancouver shipyard to build the new SeaBus for $25 million.
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The NDP is warning import duties may more than devour TransLink's expected savings of $2 million from picking an offshore firm to build its newest SeaBus.

TransLink last month picked low bidder Damen Shipyards of The Netherlands rather than a North Vancouver shipyard to build the new SeaBus for $25 million.

But NDP transportation critic Harry Bains warned choosing the Dutch firm, which will likely build the vessel in Asia, triggers federal duty.

"There is generally a 25-per-cent tariff on ships less than 129 metres in length, and that could mean more than $6 million in additional costs for this vessel," Bains said, noting SeaBuses are about 35 metres long.

A 10-year exemption from tarifffs for vessels over 129 metres was granted by Ottawa in 2010, saving BC Ferries a $119-million charge on new German-built ferries.

TransLink board chair Nancy Olewiler said she did not believe federal tax would increase the cost and all such expenses would have been considered in the bid process.


TransLink fares rise again

Transit fares jumped at least 10 per cent Jan. 1 in Metro Vancouver.

TransLink's cash fare increases ranged from 25 to 50 cents, depending on the number of zones travelled.

Monthly passes now cost $91 for one zone, $124 for two zones and $170 for three zones. Concession passes are now $52, up from $45.50.

Prepaid Faresaver tickets didn't change as they were increased in 2010.


Regional police backed: Poll

Most Metro Vancouver residents support creating one police force to oversee the entire Lower Mainland, according to a new poll.

The Angus Reid poll found 57 per cent support for a unified police force in the region.

Ending the patchwork of different RCMP and municipal police jurisdictions was one of the main recommendations of Missing Women Inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal.

He found the badly coordinated response of Mounties and Vancouver Police was one of the factors that likely slowed the eventual arrest of serial killer Robert Pickton.

Regional policing would save money and a single command structure is needed to prevent the next serial killer from eluding detection, Oppal said.

The RCMP also took a hit from an Ipsos Reid poll, which found fewer Canadians have confidence in the force's leadership than five years ago.


Metrotown station may close

A major renovation of Metrotown SkyTrain station could lead TransLink to close the busy station for 15 months, according to a TransLink request for proposals.

Officials say it's not yet determined if the lengthy closure will be necessary – with a possible "bus bridge" to nearby stations instead – as plans are still in the conceptual design stage.

The renovation is part of planned upgrades to seven stations. Major work is also slated to start early this year at Main Street-Science World.

TransLink says construction at Metrotown between 2014 and 2016 would be safer, cheaper and quicker – 15 months instead of 28 months of work – if the station is completely shut.


SkyTrain seats slashed

A 63-year-old Surrey man has been charged with mischief over $5,000 for allegedly slashing hundreds of SkyTrain seats.

Terald Nicholas Gorecki, who police say used to do contract maintenance work for SkyTrain, is accused of causing more than $45,000 in damage.

Transit Police said the fabric of 480 seats was sliced with a box cutter between August and November 2012. They said Gorecki had easy access to the transit system during that time and that hundreds of hours of surveillance video was reviewed as part of the investigation.

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