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.”

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

Just Posted

Walnut Grove’s Shawn Meehan (front) has started another band, Trigger Mafia. This local country rocker has put country on the shelf, and is going hard-core rock with this group, releasing their first single last Friday to radio. It started as a way to pass the time during the COVID lockdown, and evolved. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Langley musician drives rock revival with COVID twist

Trigger Mafia goes straight from the garage to radio with raw lyrics

The peninsula’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at White Rock Baptist Church – seen here in 2019 – has been cancelled for 2020, because of pandemic-inspired limitations on gatherings. (File photo)
Annual Community Christmas dinner ‘just not possible’ this year

Organizers vow that 40 years-plus Semiahmoo Peninsula tradition will return, post-COVID

A surveillance camera in a photo posted to the Project Iris page on surrey.rcmp-grc.gc.ca.
Quality surveillance video helps catch crooks, Surrey Mounties say

Charges laid in connection to break-and-enter in Guildford area

Strawberry Hill Hall is being renovated and moved to another location on its existing corner lot in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey’s historic Strawberry Hill Hall being moved a few metres in $1.2M reno project

Childcare spaces coming to corner lot where hall has stood for 111 years

(Photo: Twitter@SurreyRCMP)
Surrey Mounties, pet owners, bracing for Halloween

Last year the Surrey RCMP received 147 fireworks complaints on Diwali and 121 on Halloween

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

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

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Most Read