Building a satellite garage to ease overcrowding at the Dartmouth bus terminal floated well above the fast ferry as Regional Council’s top transit priority yesterday.
The decision to put the $25-million project first came out of the four-hour debate surrounding a proposed five-year transit plan, which was presented to councillors before the annual budget talks began.
Coun. Harry McInroy (Cole Harbour) moved early in the discussion to put the project first, noting that adding buses to the Metro Transit fleet rests entirely on mitigating congestion at the Burnside transit facility.
“It doesn’t make any sense that we would do anything other than put that garage there,” he said.
The $155-million, five-year proposal Council endorsed in principle yesterday sets out a timeline for the planning, construction and operation of transit projects. But each project still depends upon funding and formal approval.
Coun. Sue Uteck (Northwest Arm-South End) said she felt better knowing that the spotlight had been temporarily taken off the Bedford-Halifax Harbour Link project in favour of more pressing concerns.
But Coun. Andrew Younger said he was troubled by the outstanding questions surrounding funding.
Councillors heard that the money could come from a variety of sources, including $13 million in federal transit dollars, the gas tax and borrowing against a decrease in debt-service charges.
“We’ve essentially signed a mortgage without seeing the numbers, and I would never do that with my own house, so I’m not about to do that with everybody else’s house in years to come,” he said.