Traffic on the untolled Pattullo Bridge

EDITORIAL: Think inside the bargain bin

Some incentive beyond sacrificing for the good of Metro Vancouver is needed if residents are to vote for new TransLink taxes

Metro Vancouverites love a deal.

That’s why they line up like lemmings to cross the border for savings in the U.S. or drive far out of their way to cross an untolled bridge – never mind the waste of gas and lack of value they place on their time.

So the key to selling higher taxes to finance more transit expansion and bridge replacements will be appealing to their wallets with some personal benefit beyond paternalistic assurances that they must sacrifice for the livability of the region.

Some mayors have suggested reducing the existing 17-cent-a-litre TransLink gas tax if a vehicle levy or comprehensive road-and-bridge tolling is imposed.

That makes sense as it would give drivers less reason to fill up outside Metro.

Another proposal we’ve made before is creating a homeowner grant for the TransLink property tax, which now averages $235 per home. The tax rate could then be increased somewhat without any impact on the typical homeowner – non-residents and other investor owners would absorb the increase.

Here’s another idea.

Imagine a $200 per year vehicle levy is imposed.

But half of that – $100 – is returned to the vehicle owner in the form of a credit they can direct to either their TransLink Compass card account or their TReO tolling account.

Drivers who shun toll bridges would be encouraged to cross them at least some of the time, helping unclog traffic jams on free crossings.

Those who rarely commute across tolled bridges could take the Compass credit instead and would have more incentive to use transit, at least some of the time.

Either TransLink or the province would get the credits eventually, so the revenue wouldn’t vanish, and the credits could be time-limited if necessary.

The concept could form one of a series of value propositions that may better inspire a short-term focused me-first public that has difficulty imagining the gridlock of the future if nothing is done.

There is no magic wand to solve Metro Vancouver’s transportation challenges. The reality is we will all have to pay more somehow.

But it’s thinking like this that will be needed if the province remains determined to give voters the final say over TransLink expansion in an eventual referendum.

Just Posted

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

‘New’ truck, trailer donated to the BC Vintage Truck Museum

Ownership of 1928 Graham truck, 1949 Langford trailer officially transferred on Saturday

Plan to redevelop former Surrey motel site too dense, says Coun. Pettigrew

Pettigrew: ‘We need to build liveable community with green spaces… not massive zones that are densified’

Former North Delta pastor, son ‘preyed upon shared spirituality’ to defraud investors of $450K: BCSC

BCSC panel publishes financial sanctions against Alan and Jerry Braun, Steven Maxwell

Snowfall warning: 5-10 cm expected in Lower Mainland

The snowfall will start Tuesday and carry on into the evening, before tapering off Wednesday

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Kelowna raises concerns over safety, policing with Centre of Gravity organizers

The mayor said it was a mutual decision between organizers and the city to postpone the festival

VIDEO: Lower Mainland barn fire kills three sheep

The Langley Township fire department was called to a site in the 4100 block of 240th Street.

Stock trading allegations dismissed against former Lower Mainland spiritual leader

Investors allegedly lost $740,000 investing through a local religious organization.

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

Most Read