Extra two cent gas tax hike to fund Evergreen Line

Other funding sources, including vehicle levy, also in the works

Artist rendering of Coquitlam Central Station on the Evergreen Line SkyTrain extension.

Artist rendering of Coquitlam Central Station on the Evergreen Line SkyTrain extension.

Call it the two-cent solution.

That’s how much extra Metro Vancouver motorists will pay for a litre of gas at the pumps to help fund TransLink’s commitment to build the $1.4-billion Evergreen Line to Coquitlam.

“Two cents per litre from gas taxes is how we think our contribution should be made,” West Vancouver Mayor and mayors council vice-chair Pamela Goldsmith-Jones said Wednesday.

The proposed measure – increasing the gas tax take for TransLink from a current 15 cents to 17 cents effective next April – has the agreement of the provincial government, with transportation minister Blair Lekstrom pledging to introduce legislation this fall.

The extra two cents would generate about $40 million more in revenue each year, much of what TransLink needs to cover the annual borrowing cost of its $400-million capital contribution.

But TransLink will need more.

Goldsmith-Jones said mayors also expect to approve an annual vehicle levy that could vary – possibly based on a vehicle’s carbon footprint – between $10 and $40 per vehicle per year.

The two-cent gas tax, vehicle levy (called a Transportation Improvement Fee) and a potential small property tax hike need to generated a combined $70 million a year to cover TransLink’s planned spending supplement.

It includes not just the 11-kilometre Evergreen Line SkyTrain extension but also a broader package of upgrades intended to give something to all parts of the region.

It includes:

– RapidBus improvements south of the Fraser to create a new B-Line express from Surrey’s SkyTrain hub to Guildford and to White Rock via King George Boulevard and Highway 1 RapidBus improvements from Langley to Lougheed Station.

– More frequent SeaBus sailings of every 15 minutes all day, plus three-vessel service allowing sailings every 10 minutes for special events

– SkyTrain and SeaBus station upgrades to key transit hubs such as Main Street, Metrotown, Surrey Central, New Westminster and Lonsdale Quay.

– $20 million a year for road work and $6 million a year for cycling projects.

– Other conventional bus improvements adding new routes, more frequent service and more capacity, including a promised new route from White Rock to Langley via Grandview Heights. The extra service would address congestion and accomodate population growth and the expanded U-Pass system.

Goldsmith-Jones could not say how soon work could begin on the Evergreen Line, which has been stalled for months since mayors last fall rejected a TransLink proposal to pay for the contribution solely through property taxes.

Lekstrom last month said the province will move quickly to issue a request for proposals to the three pre-qualified bidders for the project once the mayors commit to a funding source.

The mayors’ agreement with the province requires a $23 increase in property tax for the average Metro Vancouver home if the vehicle levy is not approved in addition to the gas tax hike.

Mayors would still prefer to avoid any property tax increase, Goldsmith-Jones said, adding they feel it’s appropriate to use mechanisms that can steer motorists from using the roads to transit or other alternatives.

“The mayors are committed to penalizing or incentivizing based on what makes sense,” she said, calling further property tax hikes regressive.

The planned “Moving Forward” supplement, which would go out to public consultation as early as next week, is only the short-term package of transit upgrades and accompanying fee increases.

Mayors also intend to work quickly to hammer out a long-term funding strategy to pay for bigger projects in the future, such as rapid transit extensions in the Surrey area and along Vancouver’s Broadway corridor to UBC.

Road pricing (a regional tolling scheme that would apply to not just bridges but other key arteries) and a possible regional carbon tax lead the mayors’ list of how they want to raise the billions of dollars more in capital funding required to pay for those longer-range priorities.

Goldsmith-Jones said the mayors council could be prepared to take that funding formula public for consultation as early as September.

Ottawa’s $417-million commitment to the Evergreen Line remains on the table and will be there when required, federal transportation minister Denis Lebel promised at a stop in Surrey Monday.

The province has pledged $400 million but Lekstrom has indicated that could rise to cover any shortfall – mayors won’t be asked for more.

Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini said he’s hopeful the proposed agreement with Victoria will work, but said the BC Liberals must quickly recall the legislature to approve the gas tax increase before going to the polls in a possible fall election.

“If they are serious about this and want to make believers out of a lot of people, they have to recall the house and pass this two cents a litre,” he said.

“Otherwise it can be interpreted as a pre-election ploy.”

Fuel taxes throughout B.C. rose just over one cent a litre July 1 as part of the next increment of the provincial carbon tax.

By 2013, Metro Vancouverites will also be facing tolls to cross the new 10-lane Port Mann Bridge, which will be the second tolled crossing in the region after the Golden Ears Bridge. An eventual replacement for the Pattullo Bridge could be tolled as well.

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