TransLink road tolls might snare Fraser Valley drivers

Road pricing, new sales tax could tap out-of-region residents when they come into Metro Vancouver

B.C. Chamber of Commerce president John Winter supports the use of road pricing by TransLink in Metro Vancouver

A future system of road pricing proposed to fund TransLink should charge all drivers that enter the region – including those from the Fraser Valley who have until now avoided paying to support the Metro Vancouver transportation system.

That’s the position of B.C. Chamber of Commerce president John Winter, who supports road pricing as a longer-term mechanism to raise money and encourage more efficient use of the road network.

Whether it ends up being a London-style congestion charge, a per-kilometre fee to drive anywhere in Metro or a more consistent set of tolls on all bridges, Winter says Valley residents shouldn’t be exempt when they cross the regional boundary from Abbotsford into Langley.

“Everybody who comes into this area and uses these roads, they have to pay for it,” Winter said. “I don’t think there’s any exceptions.”

Former Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon once aimed to extend TransLink’s boundaries to include the Fraser Valley and Sea-to-Sky corridor, but the idea was dropped amid strong local opposition.

A shift to a road pricing system would be one way for Metro mayors to capture dollars from out-of-region residents who don’t generally pay into TransLink unless they take transit within Metro or use TransLink-taxed pay parking lots.

The typical Metro home pays $235 in property tax each year to TransLink.

Besides that, Valley motorists who avoid filling up in Metro dodge the 17 cent per litre TransLink gas tax, which Metro mayors have suggested they would reduce by six cents as part of a switch to road pricing several years from now.

There’s no sign yet of a deal between the province and the mayors that would send their transit expansion plan to referendum next year.

The province has indicated it may be too ambitious to build the proposed $7.5 billion in new rapid transit lines and other upgrades over 10 years.

There’s also confusion over how it would be funded over the short term.

After initially proposing either a carbon tax reallocation or a new regional carbon tax, TransLink mayors’ council chair Richard Walton has said the mayors intend to instead consider a vehicle levy or regional sales tax.

He wouldn’t discuss whether road pricing should capture out-of-region drivers, calling it a policy question that will need extensive debate.

A vehicle levy would presumably apply only on Metro-registered vehicles, while a regional sales tax might capture some spending by non-residents, for example, when they pay for entertainment and major events in Vancouver.

Winter said he hopes the mayors abandon any attempt to create an additional carbon tax.

“The impact on the economy would be horrendous,” he said. “We would see a significant flight of businesses out of Metro Vancouver to do business elsewhere.”

But he added it might be “another disaster” to bolt a new regional sales tax to the PST, which the business group still wants to see harmonized with the GST despite the defeat and repeal of the HST.

“Why isn’t property tax on the table?” Winter asked. “We fully recognize we can’t afford to fund the whole system through propery tax. But it’s really important that all the tools be on the table.”

Winter said he remains concerned about the plan as crafted by the mayors.

He said it is not fully costed or properly priorized and Metro voters will need better explanations if it’s to get their support.

“Otherwise they’ll just kill the whole thing and that’s a disaster.”

Just Posted

Strong winds, heavy rain lash Lower Mainland

Up to 60 millimetres of rain is expected

Holiday festivities in Fort Langley

Christmas by Candlelight and A Fort Langley Christmasbegin this weekend on Dec. 15.

Young players skate with Kazakhstan National Team in Langley

World Junior Hockey Championships competitor conducts drills with minor players

Langley woman directs popular gospel concert

Gail Suderman’s Good Noise gospel choir’s first three shows are sold-out.

Kim’s Angels return to fill ambulance for needy in Langley

The annual charity will see donors pack an ambulance with food, clothing, and baby supplies.

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

5 to start your day

Man charged with attempted murder in Chilliwack River Valley deemed mentally unfit, Surrey man’s death prompts call for change and more

Well-known B.C. snowmobile guide killed in rollover accident

Shuswap sledding communty mourns loss of experienced Sicamous snowmobiler

BCHL player lifts Canada West to second win at World Junior A Challenge

Chilliwack Chiefs player has a a three-point performance

B.C.’s skyrocketing real estate market will ‘correct’ in 2019: analyst

Housing prices in Vancouver are set to rise just 0.6 per cent

Climate change, receding glaciers increase landslide risk on B.C.’s Mount Meager

Climate change is causing glaciers atop Mount Meager, in British Columbia, to shrink increasing the chances of landslides and even a new eruption, says one expert.

UK’s May lobbies EU leaders in fight to save Brexit deal

Top European Union officials ruled out Tuesday any renegotiation of the divorce agreement with Britain.

Former Canadian diplomat detained in China amid rising tensions: reports

A former Canadian diplomat has been arrested in China, according to media reports and the international think tank he works for.

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla, Highway 3

Environment Canada says up to 25 cm expected by Monday night

Most Read