Transportation Minister Todd Stone says the toll reform debate isn't urgent because the opening of the next new toll bridge will be several years away.

No rush on bridge toll reform debate: Stone

Minister, premier dodge calls to clarify how Metro Vancouver tolling will be made fair

Transportation Minister Todd Stone is being accused of dragging his feet on launching a long-promised review of how tolls are charged on Metro Vancouver bridges.

Stone stuck to his position that a reform of the tolling policy – opening up a potential shift to road pricing or standardized tolls on all Metro bridges – would only be required if final decisions are made to replace and toll both the new Pattullo and Massey bridges.

And even then, he said under questioning in the legislature, neither bridge would open for at least five to six years, leaving “plenty of time” to have a debate about what should happen.

Premier Christy Clark echoed that, saying it’s not yet clear how much federal money might come for those bridge replacements, an essential part of the equation on any tolling decisions.

“It’s difficult to think about what toll rates are going to be and then think about a balance across the region,” Clark said.

She called mobility pricing a “controversial issue” that she isn’t yet in a position to take a side on.

Independent Delta MLA Vicki Huntington said the province’s wait-and-see attitude is unacceptable.

“There’s an urgent need now to resolve this question,” Huntington said. “Everybody but the minister seems to understand this.”

Residents South of the Fraser are paying $1,000 to $2,000 a year in tolls if they have to cross the tolled Port Mann Bridge, she said, adding that amount could be reduced if tolls are spread out across all crossings.

Drivers who cross elsewhere would suddenly have to contribute, but Huntington said they may benefit as well, if, for example, consistent tolls relieve the congestion at free crossings like the Pattullo.

“If you distribute the tolling system equally on the different bridges then you’re not going to have all the trucks and all the congestion at the free bridge,” she said. “You open up the choice of routes so traffic is distributed more freely.

“To wait five or six years to even start the discussion is ridiculous. The issue is in front of us and it has to be resolved as soon as possible.”

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson this week repeated her support for an equitable system of tolls on all bridges, suggesting $1 a bridge.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman said he’s not sure Jackson’s numbers add up in terms of the revenue that would be required.

If tolls have to cover not just the repayment of the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges – which are not yet meeting their revenue targets – but also two new bridges yet to be built and possibly $250 million a year for transit expansion, then Bateman suggested the toll per crossing would likely have to be more like $2 to $2.50 each way.

He said political calculations are likely behind the premier’s decision to delay the toll reform debate.

“Why tick off the rest of the region with road pricing or bridge tolls before they have to?” Bateman asked. “There would be nothing she would love more than to have the NDP put road pricing into their election platform next year. I’m sure the Liberals would love to run against that.”

Just Posted

Langley rollover crash slows traffic on 200 Street in Willoughby

Crews called to Monday afternoon collision involving two cars

Township mayor Jack Froese talks short- and long-term goals for third term

Tree bylaw, pot sales among topics that will need attention in coming months

Used election signs could serve as emergency shelters, candidate says

Langley council hopeful wants to build one-person foul weather shelters for homeless

Four-vehicle collision shuts down section of Highway 10 in Cloverdale

One driver transported to hospital with what looked to be non-life threatening injuries

Langley player to compete in first NCAA basketball tournament in Canada

Former Brookswood star Louise Forsyth to play in Vancouver Showcase

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

Vancouver mayoral hopefuly admits defeat, congratulates winner Kennedy Stewart

Ken Sim of the Non-Partisan Association apologized for the time it took to acknowledge Stewart won

Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Peter Kampos told his lawyer ‘his dreams are being stolen and turned into drugs’ at Surrey Pre-trial

Fraser Valley mom stuck in Africa over adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran have been waiting four weeks to bring son home

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

Most Read