Opinion: A road to nowhere

The notion that Fraser Valley taxpayers should help ease the financial woes of TransLink is an absurd non-starter.

This week, Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin, said that since Fraser Valley residents possibly use the services provided by TransLink, they should pay for them – preferably through a fuel tax. (Make Fraser Valley pay into TransLink, Maple Ridge mayor says)

That member municipalities within TransLink are looking for more money is nothing new. Residents already contribute $235 annually in property taxes, and pay 17 cents on every litre of gas. Nonetheless, TransLink’s $1.45 billion budget is under stress every year.

That has TransLink board members like Mayor Daykin looking east.

“I think they’re getting a bit of a free ride,” Daykin said.

To be sure, residents outside MetroVancouver may use TransLink’s transportation infrastructure when they venture west. But the numbers hardly seem to warrant the kind of blanket tax that the Maple Ridge mayor is suggesting.

Estimates put the number of Chilliwack drivers leaving the city at just 13 per cent. Indeed, according to the Fraser Valley Regional District, 92 per cent of the all vehicle trips originating in the FVRD stay within the FVRD.

That’s hardly “a free ride,” especially when taxpayers here already contribute indirectly to TransLink’s transportation infrastructure. The money used to complete SkyTrain extensions, or improve routes like the $1.4 billion South Fraser Parameter Road did not grow on trees. Portions of it came through provincial and federal funds that we all pay into.

Chilliwack has just undergone the most extensive transit upgrade in the city’s history. That investment is paying dividends as ridership increases and fewer vehicles clog local roads.

But more is still to be done – work that won’t get done if we begin subsidizing the region’s western neighbour.

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