Province moves to raise gas tax for TransLink

Legislation adding extra two cents per litre expected to pass quickly with support of NDP

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom.

The province has introduced legislation to raise gas taxes two cents a litre in Metro Vancouver to help fund TransLink’s expansion plan and build the Evergreen Line.

The increase, requested this month by a majority vote of Metro mayors, would take effect next April and is expected to quickly pass with the support of the NDP.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom said the province will then formalize its agreement with TransLink, issue a request for proposals for the Evergreen Line to three pre-qualified bidders and get shovels in the ground “as quickly as possible.”

He was reluctant to promise a construction start by year-end but vowed it will be soon.

The long-stalled $1.4-billion SkyTrain extension to Coquitlam was once sidelined by a decision to build the Canada Line first and had been derailed in recent years by a deadlock with the province on how to fund TransLink’s share.

Lekstrom and mayors agreed earlier this summer to raise the gas tax and work together to find new funding sources over the next year.

He repeated that pledge and said he’s very aware Metro mayors oppose any scenario that would increase property taxes, which is the backup mechanism if talks with Victoria fail to yield new sources.

“I’m an optimist,” Lekstrom said. “I believe we’re going to find a solution that’s going to work for everyone.”

That’s critical, he said, because TransLink needs a long-term funding solution so it can build more infrastructure beyond what’s contemplated in the new Moving Forward plan.

“There has to be some certainty going into the future.”

Lekstrom also repeated a commitment to meet the mayors and look at how to fix any problems in how TransLink is governed.

Mayors complain they have no control over TransLink’s priorities – decided by an unelected professional board – and that their only role is to vote on tax and fare increases.

The gas tax increase will give TransLink an extra $40 million of the $70 million per year it needs to fund the new plan. The transportation authority will take in an estimated $364 million in fuel taxes in 2012 from its dedicated 17 cents a litre.

B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins opposes the gas tax hike and said the decision of both the Liberals and NDP to support it leaves the Tories as “the only fiscally responsible party” in the province.

“This is a tax essentially on the working poor,” he said, adding transit doesn’t work for many Metro Vancouver residents. “It’s a tax on the commuter.”

Local residents are already paying the highest gas taxes in Canada, he said.

He said a one-per-cent cut in the budgets of Metro Vancouver cities could have funded the Evergreen Line and that other taxes already collected could be reapportioned to finance other TransLink needs.

Just Posted

Developers to unveil plan to transform Aldergrove mall into new town centre

Community to find out new Aldergrove Town Centre plan for dormant 10-acre lot in heart of downtown.

Tardi and team playoff bound in junior curling worlds tonight

Friday night Team Canada’s men’s team faces off against Norway, hoping to secure a spot in the finals

Injured nurse back in the saddle after horse riding accident

Keya Milaire has been recovering from an accident that occurred on May 24.

Langley’s Hong takes silver in Winter Games vault

The Langley athlete completed a tricky move in competition to clinch the podium.

Former Cloverdale church elder will be tried in Supreme Court on sexual assault charges

Preliminary inquiry for Brian Batke case set for February 2020

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read