Green will not support additional fuel tax

Langley Township Mayor Rick Green announced Thursday that he will not support the additional two-cent per litre TransLink fuel tax.

Langley Township Mayor Rick Green announced Thursday that he will not support the additional two-cent per litre TransLink fuel tax, which is to be used to fund the Evergreen Line construction and other TransLink projects.

The TransLink Mayors’ Council is to vote on the “supplement,” as it is formally called, on Friday.

Earlier this week, a coalition of mayors, including Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, stated that they supported the TransLink tax increase. The proposal is expected tp pass, as both Vancouver and Surrey favour it, and mayors have weighted votes, depending on the size of their communities.

See this website Friday for more on the vote, as the results become available.

Green’s press release announcing his decision is as folows:

 

N E W S  R E L E A S E

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 6, 2011

From: Mayor Rick Green, Township of Langley

RE: TransLink Supplement Tax Increase Vote October 7, 2011

Since the introduction of this process, consideration for the TransLink

Supplement being proposed has undergone a considerable amount of

community consultation, meetings with our new Minister, and discussions

amongst ourselves (mayors from the Region). The result of all of this work and

close to three years of discussion and debate on the TransLink Board, where up

to now we have been united (unanimously) in opposition to any property tax

increase, it seems we are on the verge of folding in that position. I am opposed to

this proposed increase in gas tax and the potential for any property tax increase.

The public have had enough!

My decision to oppose this plan is not easy, but it is based on balance looking at

what is at stake for the region and the opportunities that we are passing up to

truly make the best long term decision.

Specifically why am I opposed? There are a number of reasons that on balance

do not provide me with the comfort that this is a good decision moving forward:

• The public have clearly said enough is enough to tax increases.

• Over the past three years we have had three Provincial Ministers of

Transportation, all three with differing views on TransLink and now two

Premiers. Where does the Province really stand on the issues facing us?

I haven’t seen anything to give me comfort going forward.

• Since Minister Lekstrom has been in the Minister’s chair (I will agree a

dramatic improvement from the former Ministers of Transportation) we

have had a litany of conflicting messages from the Province and the

Premier’s Office. Support for the gas tax, then no support for the gas tax,

then support for the gas tax, no support for the regional use of the

current Carbon Tax, then support from the Premier, then no support for

the current Carbon Tax, and just recently a quote suggesting she is in

favor of using the current Carbon Tax, and finally support to tackle the

contentious issue of governance by the Minister, and then a public

comment from the Premier that she wasn’t interested in reviewing this

issue. One has to ask: what is their position and what are they ultimately

in favor of?

• In my view and I believe in the view of the majority the main issue is the

need for governance change. The issues of needing and finding

additional revenue sources are secondary to the need to implement

meaningful and real governance change that can speak to local

involvement in setting priorities in needs and technology. I do not have

any comfort given messages to date that this issue will be addressed

adequately.

• Is it reasonable, given the current election cycle (provincial election in

May of 2013), that it is in the interest of the Province to adequately deal

with these issues and not go to the fall-back position of two years of a

property tax increase? (That blame will fall to the cities and municipalities

of the region, not the province.)

• I have been living in hope after three years, talking about Langley

Township transit deficiencies at length at the TransLink Mayor’s Council

table, making two presentations at our monthly education sessions to

members of the TransLink Board and Mayor’s Council, and meeting with

the Translink executive on a number of occasions, that our needs might

appear on their radar screen. Not much to ask but that has not

happened, nor have I received any indication they are about to be.

• The Surrey Rapid Transit Study was introduced and sponsored by

TransLink, the City of Surrey, and the City of Langley, who went through

a process that claimed to embrace the needs of Surrey’s neighbors with

subsequent public consultation. The Township of Langley, the largest

neighbor of the City of Surrey, with a population four times that of the

Langley City and over 30 times its size in area, was in our opinion

ignored, as was some very viable, cost effective transportation initiatives

for the South of Fraser Region with no reasonable explanation and no

consultation.

• The Township of Langley has supported the Metro Regional Growth

Strategy which proposes to almost double our population over the next

twenty plus years, which in ratio would make us over six times the size of

the City of Langley. With that, a review of TransLink’s 2040 plan provides

negligible transit improvement to support that planned growth in our

municipality.

• Recently I was told that with the approval of new funding we would work

to provide (after some market research and surveys) some bus service

into Gloucester Industrial Estates, a 700 acre industrial park with 8,000 to

10,000 employees a day going in and out of the park. Property owners in

Gloucester submit $1.4 million per year for absolutely nothing. It is

indefensible. In a subsequent public consultation session held in

Guildford we were told that no, there was no plan for that service in this

plan.

Does the proposed plan offer enough service to our dramatically underserviced

region for the current revenue generated from our municipality? The answer is

NO. A resident in the Township of Langley requires (it is not an option) a vehicle.

In our case it is probably 2 – 3 vehicles per household. We continue to hear on

the morning news plans for the Broadway corridor or the SFU Gondola while we

continue to be ignored. I have said many times we cannot compete with high or

higher density parts of the region; nevertheless our taxpayers demand to receive

adequate benefits for the taxes they pay.

Township of Langley taxpayers contribute a significant amount of their tax dollars

to all major and minor transit projects and operations in the Metro region. Where

is the equity? Our residents are penalized by tolls on the Golden Ears, the Port

Mann and the Patullo when it is re-built, with absolutely no rapid transit, unlike

that on the north side of the river. Our rail corridor comes at no charge while

north of the River costs around $8 million per year.

There are a few other key issues that must be addressed to adequately address

our transportation needs south of the Fraser; that is we have two transit

providers, two regional districts, and one planning function under Metro

Vancouver. How do you properly address transit needs outside of any community

and regional planning function?

I urge all members of the Translink Mayor’s Council to turn down this supplement

in the interest of our taxpayers and lack of equity provided throughout the region.

W. Rick Green

MAYOR

-30-

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