This letter is to explain the NO position that the Directors of the Aldergrove Business Association have taken on the proposed regional transit sales tax. We have considered the position of the Mayor’s Council and, to become as informed as possible about the facts, provided an opportunity for Mayor Froese to speak to our members in January.
Although we agree that transit and road improvements are important, this particular tax penalizes communities like Aldergrove without improving local services. If this tax is approved, Aldergrove businesses, due to their location at the outer edge of the GVRD, will face additional pricing disparities with nearby Abbotsford (outside of the region to be taxed). We already face challenges with cross border shopping, creating extensive retail vacancies throughout the downtown area of Aldergrove. The proposed tax will compound the existing challenges our retailers face.
Unfortunately the Mayor’s plan offers nothing for the town of Aldergrove to offset these additional challenges. Our town has been abandoned by TransLink; our transit situation is currently not only inefficient, it is literally the end of the line for the GVRD. As a result, B.C. Transit now links our town with Abbotsford, creating a makeshift bus exchange right in the heart of our town, with a lengthy waiting period between buses and no public access to washroom facilities. This makeshift exchange, combined with the retail vacancies in the downtown core, have resulted in an increase in petty crimes such as littering, theft, and graffiti.
Although we agree that transit improvements are needed, it doesn’t appear to us that Aldergrove is even on the radar for TransLink service improvements. The makeshift exchange is not listed as an official bus exchange on TransLink’s web page. Aldergrove’s very large industrial complex, Gloucester Estates is not serviced by a single bus. By abandoning Aldergrove, TransLink has not only provided poor bus service but their negligence has also contributed to crime, litter, and defacing our town.
As we believe in always offering a positive spin, perhaps this is the opportunity for TransLink to consider building a proper transit exchange in Gloucester. Perhaps this is also the opportunity for Lower Mainland residents to realize just how out of touch TransLink is in the less densely populated areas of the Lower Mainland.
We encourage TransLink to find funding from within instead of simply raising taxes. A business can’t rely on raising prices year after year to expand; it needs to look within, build efficiencies, improve products and services, and create a larger customer base. TransLink needs to do the same – cutting waste and building transit routes that serve the needs of all communities, not just a chosen few. The proposed regional sales tax seems like an easy way out, but offering no apparent benefit for Aldergrove residents or businesses.
As TransLink has proven to be ineffective in managing their core responsibility, we are highly suspect of their ability to understand the implications of their proposed tax. Perhaps TransLink decision makers could consult throughout the entire GVRD area to better understand the service challenges instead of fighting amongst themselves over mega projects to determine who gets the biggest piece of the pie.
Ken Kendall, Aldergrove Business Association