Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts

Mayors aim to tie new bridge to tolls, referendum

Massey Tunnel replacement plan revives road pricing talk

Some Metro Vancouver mayors say a new bridge announced by the premier to replace the Massey Tunnel should be subjected to a referendum like one the province promises to give voters a say on new TransLink taxes.

Metro Vancouver board chair Greg Moore said mayors will ask Transportation Minister Todd Stone at a meeting Thursday if the new bridge will be tolled and if authority for tolls would also go to a referendum.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has also raised the notion of a referendum on the bridge, which he warned could consume billions of dollars and bump back expanded rapid transit as the region’s top priority.

It’s not yet clear if mayors are raising the issue mainly to pressure the province to change its course on the TransLink referendum – which they oppose – or if they believe it stands a better chance of passing if the Massey bridge is thrown in the mix, giving drivers more reason to vote yes.

Moore said a dual-issue referendum seems logical but cautioned voters on the North Shore or northeast sector who make little use of the Deas crossing might vote down the whole package.

“Most of us are not fans of the referendum to start with, so this just, frankly, complicates it,” Moore said of the bridge announcement.

He said he hopes Stone indicates what the question will be, when it will happen and “what’s the plan B if the referendum fails.”

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said it’s a “forgone conclusion” the new bridge will come with tolls to pay for it.

And while she strongly supports building the new high-level bridge to decongest traffic and let ocean-going ships sail upriver, Watts said she believes Premier Christy Clark’s election promise on a referendum extends to a new bridge toll.

“I’m just going by what the premier said during the election – that if anybody is expected to pay any additional tolls or transit infrastructure fees it should go to a referendum,” she said.

Watts said she can’t support another high toll like the $3 (as of December) to cross the Port Mann Bridge, but continues to promote a consistent system of smaller tolls applied on more crossings, or possibly some form of road pricing.

“I think it needs to be fair and equitable across the region,” Watts said, adding she intends to raise the issue with Stone.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson predicts most people would accept smaller tolls applied fairly on all bridges, not just the next one to be replaced, even though charging on existing bridges would require the province changing its tolling policy.

“If a toll for everyone of 75 cents or $1 could be incorporated over the region, I believe that everyone would feel they were paying their share as a member of the driving public,” Jackson said.

Jackson and Moore both warned adding a new toll only on the Massey bridge would put enormous pressure on the Alex Fraser Bridge as a free crossing.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie also said the premier’s announcement Sept. 22 that the new crossing will be a bridge will intensify the debate over road pricing.

Road pricing isn’t expected to be on the referendum ballot – it would take years of study to flesh out – but quicker-to-implement sources for TransLink could include an annual vehicle levy or a small regional sales tax.

He raised concerns about the loss of farmland for a giant new bridge and questioned whether the bottleneck now at the tunnel will just move towards the Richmond-Vancouver border.

“You go quickly across the bridge but are you just going to hit congestion when you get to the other side?”

He called for more steps now to improve transit on the corridor to get drivers out of cars, rather than waiting until a 2022 opening date, assuming construction of the new bridge begins as planned in the 2017 election year.

Brodie said Richmond is also concerned that the bridge would enable larger tankers carrying jet fuel to go up the Fraser.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Police investigation underway at Cloverdale townhouse complex

Officers were in the 19000-block of 64th Avenue – near the Langley-Surrey border – Thursday evening

Langley man arrested in connection with $264,000 drug and cash bust in Grand Prairie

Police have warrants out for Christine Emes and Christopher Gilliat, also from Langley

PHOTOS: Latest addition to Mural Walk in downtown Langley a ‘showstopper’

Fort Langley artist Alex Stewart completed the artwork in two days

An unofficial contest to name a nameless Langley City park comes up with a winner

Councillor Nathan Pachal thought the ‘lonely’ mini-park deserved a name

One person treated for smoke inhalation after Langley fire

Township firefighters were called to Deer Creek Estates Wednesday night

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

B.C.-born Trybe social media app’s award system connects with Nickelback singer

Rock stars, jet planes, scooter tricks and the creation of a new platform ready for launch

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

B.C. VOTES 2020: Speculation tax misses speculators, B.C. Liberals say

Andrew Wilkinson, John Horgan clash over housing costs, solutions

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

Wind warning for White Rock, South Surrey

Gusts up to 90 km/h expected from Richmond to Langley Friday (Sept. 25) morning

Most Read