Township council slams new TransLink gas tax

Langley Township residents already pay an excessive amount of money for transportation services that do not fully benefit them, and should not have to be saddled with TransLink’s grab of another two cents per litre of gas, and a vehicle levy, council agreed on July 25.

Residents pay for the region’s network of buses, trains and SeaBus through a number of taxes. They also pay a toll to TransLink to use the Golden Ears Bridge. Starting next year, they will pay a toll for the new Port Mann Bridge.

Residents also pay for TransLink through property tax and a surcharge on their B.C. Hydro bills.

TransLink says it needs the additional levies to pay for the new Evergreen Line which is proposed to connect the Lougheed  SkyTrain station with Coquitlam Centre. TransLink is also eyeing a gondola to replace buses on the Simon Fraser University link.

Neither of these options benefits Langley residents or others who live south of the Fraser River and who will nevertheless be paying for them, councillors said.

“People all over Langley are saying, ‘enough is enough,’” said Councillor Jordan Bateman.

“There is not a sniff of an opportunity for transit” in Langley, he added. “We keep getting pushed down the line.”

Taxes are particularly onerous for South Langley residents, said Councillor Charlie Fox.

“This is a more expensive tax than the 3.95 per cent property tax increase I voted for,” he said.

Mayor Rick Green said the motion to protest the tax “is not based on fact.”

If the gas tax increase is not supported, there will be no bus service from the Walnut Grove Park and Ride currently under construction on 86 Avenue, Green said. Other improvements, such as bus service to Gloucester Estates, will be scrapped, he said.

Green and Councillors Bob Long and Grant Ward voted against sending a letter to TransLink to protest the tax.

“I don’t know how unfair we have been treated,” Ward said. “I have to have more information before I vote on this.”

Councillor Kim Richter said the Evergreen Line “was a bargaining chip in order to get the Olympic Line (between downtown Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport).” Municipalities on the north side of the Fraser “stood up and they got the Evergreen Line.”

Council discussion veered to a criticism of Green for not revealing how he voted at the Mayors’ Council meeting, where the additional gas tax was approved.

At the July 11 council meeting, Green had refused to divulge how he voted, and refused again when quizzed at the July 25 meeting.

“Everybody at this table knows the principles of in-camera,” Green said, adding that he had been advised by Metro Vancouver lawyers not to reveal his vote.

However, Bateman pointed out, Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, who chairs the Metro Vancouver board, had disclosed how she voted.

“She’s entitled to say what she wants,” Green replied. “I will absolutely not breach that statute.”

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