Car levy, new carbon tax for TransLink concerns business

Car levy, new carbon tax for TransLink concerns business

B.C. Chamber president says regional tolling would be more fair

[View the story “Should a vehicle fee be charged to fund TransLink” on Storify]

Business leaders are worried proposals to raise more money for TransLink by charging an annual vehicle fee or a new carbon tax in Metro Vancouver may harm the economy.

B.C. Chamber of Commerce president John Winter said he thinks the regional mayors’ council should abandon the two options and accept higher property taxes for now while they pursue longer-term funding mechanisms for TransLink.

“There are far more minuses than pluses, particularly with the carbon tax and vehicle levy,” he said.

Metro Vancouver mayors want the province to enable the new funding sources to raise an extra $30 million – committed last year to ensure the Evergreen Line proceeds – that will otherwise be added to property taxes starting in 2013.

They’re also pushing for the provincial government to allow road pricing, which could extend tolls more consistently across the region as a long-term revenue source to build new rapid transit lines on Vancouver’s Broadway corridor to UBC and through Surrey to Langley and White Rock.

Winter said a new regional carbon tax would hit key industries in Metro Vancouver, particularly cement plants and the greenhouse industry.

“They can’t really change their carbon footprint,” he said. “That’s quite inequitable and it’s a huge part of the economy.”

The cost of goods and services in the region could also be forced up, he said.

Winter said a vehicle levy gives people no way to avoid paying if they own a car, so there is no daily incentive to conserve or try transit, cycling or walking.

The existing gas tax of 15 cents a litre for TransLink (rising to 17 cents April 1) at least allows motorists to drive less to reduce their fuel bill, but he acknowledged the gas tax differential in Metro also sends many drivers out of the region to refuel and contributes to cross-border shopping.

He said Surrey-area residents would be doubly hit if they have to pay a vehicle levy as well as $3-plus tolls to cross the Fraser River.

Winter said Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts’ call for more modest region-wide tolling makes more sense than the vehicle levy, particularly with the Port Mann Bridge about to be tolled along with the Golden Ears Bridge.

“If driving across Burrard Inlet becomes subject to some sort of toll, so be it,” Winter said. “It strikes me as being far more equitable.”

The B.C. Chamber remains on record as supporting introduction of a road management system in the region – potentially similar to mayors’ calls for road pricing – to raise money while controlling congestion and traffic flows.

Winter predicted the provincial government will be forced to alter its tolling policy and open up tolling of existing bridges and roads, something transportation minister Blair Lekstrom maintains isn’t under consideration.

Winter said tolls on the Port Mann may have seemed a good idea to residents south of the Fraser clamouring for a new bridge a few years ago.

“But as it gets closer to fruition, memories get shorter.”

Winter also said government claims that toll-averse motorists will quickly reach free bridges via the South Fraser Perimeter Road are dubious because the province’s decision to build the truck route with some traffic lights will slow down trucks and traffic flow.

B.C. Trucking Association president and CEO Louise Yako also said she expects the province will be forced to consider broader tolling, noting motorists already avoid the Golden Ears Bridge because they refuse to pay there.

She said her organization understands TransLink’s challenge in finding new funding as the region’s population grows.

“Our concern is that whatever mechanism is chosen doesn’t unfairly place a burden on commercial vehicle owners and operators,” Yako said.

“We already have the highest fuel taxes in North America.”

Goods movers do not have a public transit alternative to using the roads, she added.

Social media channels lit up with criticism and comments on the mayors request for new funding sources.

Many on Twitter said no vehicle levy should be approved and demanded more accountability for TransLink. (See slideshow above.)

A group calling itself Fair Tolls For B.C. has also launched an online petition calling for tolls on Metro Vancouver bridges to either be eliminated or made low and applied consistently on all major crossings.

Just Posted

(Adam Louis/Observer)
PHOTOS: Students leap into action in track events at Kent Elementary

At Kent Elementary, when the sun’s outside, the fun’s outside. The intermediate… Continue reading

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

One person was transported to hospital with minor injuries following a two-vehicle crash on Hot Springs Road June 10. (Adam Louis/Observer)
One hurt following two-vehicle crash on Hot Springs Road

Agassiz Fire Department, B.C. Ambulance Service attended with RCMP

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read