Evergreen money has to come from somewhere

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


A new 2 cent gas tax will help bridge a $400 million funding gap

After years of wrangling and hand-wringing, it appears TransLink is finally about to break ground on the new Evergreen Line.

That’s because the mayors in Metro Vancouver have now agreed to a new funding formula to partially bridge the $400-million gap, which has kept this mega-project on ice for so long.

West Vancouver Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, who is vice-chairwoman of the mayors' council, announced on Wednesday that a new two-cent-per-litre tax on gasoline will help raise upwards of $70 million.

To date the federal government has committed $417 million toward the transit project, with the province committing another $400 million. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom also committed to Metro mayors they won’t need to source another dime of funding to ensure trains begin running on time in 2014.

As for the remaining gap in funding, the mayors have recommeded several other options for the Province to consider. The whole funding package will need to be approved by the legislature this fall."

The reaction from Metro Vancouver drivers is somewhat predictable. After all, who likes another hike in gas taxes with the price of fuel already hovering around $1.35 per litre?

But what is the alternative? Either the local mayors continue to thumb their nose at the province and watch the Evergreen Line die a slow death, or they chose to modestly raise gas taxes.

In my case, I happen to own a home, drive a vehicle and commute regularly to and from work using public transit. Therefore, regardless of where the mayors were going to try and find the $400 million, it’s likely to come out of one pocket or another.

Although yesterday’s announcement sounds like progress, I’m still left wondering why we don’t know definitively where all the money will come from to pay for this and other transit projects. The mayors are also talking about imposing new regional carbon taxes, vehicle levies and even higher property taxes to pay for the overall “Move Forward” transportation plan.

If our region is truly interested in developing an effective and integrated rapid and light-rail transit system north and south of the Fraser River, it’s going to take money – and lots of it. In my opinion raising those funds through existing gas taxes, rather than increasing the financial burden on homeowners or transit riders, makes for better public policy.

- Post by Daniel. You can follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus. Or you can "like" us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CityCaucus. This column was first published in 24 Hours Vancouver on Thursday, July 7, 2011.


The Thought of The Night Reaper

"Winter Olympic Games Security - $1 Billion
Olympic Village Debt & Fire Sale - 1$ Billion
Vancouver Convention Center West - 1$ Billion
Lost Vancouver Tourism Revenue due to Gregor's Riot - 1$ Billion
BC Place Roof + VAG -1$ Billion..."

It seems that when it comes to finding money to spend on megalomaniac projects all the Government have to do is to concentrate on the number 1.

Number 1 feels small; 1 is easy to understand; 1 is more palatable.
What would you find more appealing,a 1 Billion or 469 Million? (what's with the '69' for LOL)
1 Billion is 1 Billion, it's easy to explain.
See what I mean?

Number 1 is clean, if you say it with confidence, that you need the 1, it feels like you know your business, it's a good combination with that Armani suit of yours, the power of one, hey people are busy, they don't want to be bothered with three digit numbers, that's just gross.

Number 1 appeals to singles, single parents, to athletes and perfectionists, and from the Government's point of view, it's easier to beg for The One.
'Hey BC, can you spare a One, please?'

Trust me, they do that...they're laughing. Seriously, they should consider the power of One.

Read and forward this message to 1 person only!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps One busy.

Yeah, it certainly is amazing to see how the goverment (federal and provincial) so easily come up with a billion dollars of funding for projects that work for them or their corporate keepers.

How about we simply take that terribly applied carbon tax (which was actually a flat tax intiative which hurts working class families) and devote that to transit improvemnets.

What would be wrong with borrowing the money to build it, then charging the people who use it enough to maintain it and pay back the loan plus interest over a set number of years?

I don't see why this needs to be complicated or coercive.

Tricities has a population of 220,000 and about half or 110,000 commute to work. The vast majority have no choice but to scatter across Metro Vancouver like little chicken and add to the mass transportation carbon footprint rat race.

My mantra is that it is negligent of city planners to just zone in condo high rises and shopping malls. If they don\t have the brains or will to develop a proper central business district in Coquitlam for the Tricities and help get everyone off a subsidy addiction problem they should be booted out as half baked city planners that are actually half as half baked as anyone can get - and can't tell there ... from a hole in the wall.

Subsidies for Skytrain reached a quarter billion dollars last year, and even Canada Line with its 95,000 or so riders gets a $21 million dollar subsidy fix, which pleases the private part of the P3 arrangement.

City Causcus is being a little near cited because it serves his personal interest to have transportation network optimized for mass long distance commuting. How about a City Caucus for City Caucus's personal centric view of the world.

Glissy, I have a soundtrack for your earlier post. www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVo_Y2wZ0Tw

Hopefully soon Mayor moonbeam will be sitting alone on his bike, surveying his chicken coop while tending his wheat field.............Alone

Haven't you heard the TD Bank commercial, we're richer than we think.

You're forgetting about the Sea to Sky, and Canada Line for your list. Did you know a company called Transtoll (Transtoll.com) counts traffic on the Sea to Sky so the private operators can get their annual contract bonanza, which lasts 25 years. Some bloggers have said it could be as 100 million a year, which sounds absurd but you never know. No one can get a straight answer out of the Ministry of Transportation.

I think we're following the Greek model.

That was so simple, but why did it take so long? Because all the mayors were expecting Ottawa and Victoria to pick up the full tab is the reason. Now, the planners need to be planning for a light rail network for the south of the Fraser residents. This service is needed now.

Just returned from Spain where I used the toll road to go from the Costa Blanca to Valencia on two occasions...I had other choices, but it was worth the 8 euros to avoid congestion and save time.

Just returned from London where the number of taxis outnumbers the number of cars on downtown streets...why? because the congestion taxes discourage most motorists from taking their cars downtown. Yes there are good public transit alternatives...although during rush hour, you would rather not be having to use them.

I predict that both toll roads and congestion pricing will be coming to Metro, and so they should, in order to improve the public transit infrastructure.

However, I would also like to see more consideration given to generating revenue from property development associated with new station development. Translink has started to do this in a small way, but there is potential for much more money over time, if a comprehensive program of acquiring strategic sites before the devlopers and specultors is carried out. I'm told some legisltative changes may be needed to allow such a program to be more effective.

How much money could be generated this way? Well, Hong Kong, (and yes, I know it's a much different situation) funds most of its public transit infrastructure from land development. Just a thought...

Michael, there is absolutely nothing in downtown Vancouver that justifies a congestion tax. The area has already been abandoned by most in the Metro area as a locus of shopping or entertainment (excluding drunken, riot-prone 20somethings thanks to our "entertainment" district). Such a proposal would merely hasten its decline into nothing more than one of Metro Vancouver's many regional centres, with nothing more to offer regional residents than Brentwood or Richmond Centre.

Central London is an entity unto itself, too many people make the mistake of trying to apply its experience elsewhere.

The Thought of The Day

"Let's ban the politicians and the government bureaucrats from wearing suits during their pitching/ PPPs/ proposals of more of their megalomaniac projects to us. This is their cover. Their only cover. The suits. Under that thin gabardine skin, they are the same 'maddafakkers' they were when in high-school, they cheated on their math test."

R. Isaak,
Loved that song. very SUITable for the very SUITed up Mayor...on a bike, LOL. (I am relinking the http...for the song) Thanks.


The Carbon Tax is a Tax on Breathing. What are they going to think of next?
'Plastic bottle' filtered tap water?

Rob Kwon
Sea to Sky. Thanks for reminding me of that. Completely forgot. You know what the Sea to Sky reminds me of? Two years ago, during a long trip in South America, I passed through a remote village in Peru, dirt roads to the left and to the right, when suddenly our 100 years old Land Rover, stopped shaking, no dust (to be honest I thought that our driver simply missed the corner, with all that dust around us, and we were flying towards our untimely deaths, down a ravine or something, scaaaarrrry) ... there was a paved/ cobbled road going up to the biggest residence in sight. We had to drive up and find out... we needed to know, who, why, how come?
Ten minutes later over a smooth 30% incline, 1.5 Km of Inca quality road, we reached the house of the...Mayor (for almost 15 years!)
That was a visit to remember,he proudly and openly showed us... his back yard plantation of coca (pity i could tell him about our future wheat fields), his brand new Toyota 4X4, and we spent a whole afternoon talking about the Gold business in his country (gold mine nearby was part of his mayoral 'domain'...
So what I am saying here is that the only paved road in that village was the one going up to the richest and the most corrupt member of that region.
When we asked him how come he is the only one to have a paved road to his home, drinking tap water and inside plumbing...he responded ' Porque la gente aquí me amas'... Because people loved him!

So, my conclusion is, maybe we the people of BC, love to spend all this money and effort for other people's enjoyment, because we too, are of the loving kind... just saying.

Bob H (2)
You are absolutely right re. the 'downtown congestion tax racket'

Michael Geller
Welcome back! As for London (where I used to live for many years) you said it yourself, three words 'good public transportation'... yellow line, blue line, green line, red line, bus, taxis, light rail, Victoria Station train to Heathrow, see where I'm going with this. Vancouver... three words as well 'Not So Much'.


Going back to my Peruan trip...before leaving, the Mayor gave us a bag of coca leaves,thank you very much, to deal with the altitude :-), you see, and I gifted him a T-shirt. On the back it said:

"We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy"

@Rob Kwan

Maybe 30 years ago that was true but today, the majority of at least Port Coquitlam residents are commuting within the Tri-cities.

Forty-three per cent of all trips during the AM peak hour were within the municipality, with another 23% travelling to Coquitlam.

From http://www.bclocalnews.com/tri_city_maple_ridge/tricitynews/news/117359773.html?mobile=true

Thanks for the link. That's great to hear about Port Coquitlam and that's a bit of a surprise.

The point I would like to make is why stop there and burden people with more costly long distance mass infrastructure when optimizing local public transit and developing a full blown municipal central business district for the long term wins hands down in every way from practical cost, human lifestyle, and use of total resources.


Great story about South America. Perhaps the mayor has plans to come to BC to become premier to expand his empire :)

The Sea to Sky is a beautiful tax payer funded new driveway for skiers and the people of Whistler. Rationale is it helps BC tourism but if it costs a hundred million dollars a year to pay the private P3 partner Sea to Sky Group Limited to oversee the highway, BC taxpayers are being hood winked again and too many people are laughing there way to the bank.

I think what people are saying is that Translink is maxed out for now on how much they can bleed from the taxpayers and they have to start not spending money if they don't have it like everyone else. I get the feeling that Translink is perpetually into raising taxes for its projects and regular BC'ers are not.

Saw a good posting here on the issue. http://tinyurl.com/63lcohu

One thing that I didnt see answered was whether the WC Express would terminate at Coquitlam Centre if the Skytrain was extended there. Doesnt make sense to have it come downtown if the Skytrain is available instead.

when I think of Translink, I think of the little kid with his Mom at the grocery check out.
Mom... I wanna chocolate bar.
No Johnny, we are going home for dinner. But Mom, I need a chocolate bar.
No, Johnny, not today. Mom does not have any extra money. It is not payday for another week.
Mooooooom!~why are you so mean?
Johnny, please stop
Moooooommmmm! (yelling now) you are the worst Mom in the whole world

Two things:

One) Why doesn't the West Coast Express run more often/weekends...

Two) Sorry folks, but the Sea to Sky was long overdue. Most of the deaths along that stretch were not 'rich' heading to Whistler, but young people heading up for a day of skiing or biking.

The WCE doesn't run more often because of the high track usage rates charged by the railway. Hopefully, the feds will make the railways reduce these rates.


You seem to like some aspects of the subsidy game. If it's young people that are having accidents going up for a day of skiing or biking at Whistler, your answer implies it's a basic economic necessity to ski good powder or do a good bike run and rush back home on the same day. Excellent logic, bravo! The people who want to go up should pay their own way and pay a toll instead of spreading the costs of their leisure activities to the general population. But socialist blind spots are as myopic as they get. Perhaps you have a pair of glasses and a real thinking cap hidden somewhere in your basement. Just remove the dust and rinse with soap and warm water.


You seem to like some aspects of the subsidy game. If it's young people that were having accidents going up for a day of skiing or biking at Whistler, your answer implies it's a basic economic necessity to ski good powder or do a good bike run and rush back home on the same day. Excellent logic, bravo! The people who want to go up should pay their own way and pay a toll instead of spreading the costs of their leisure activities to the general population. But socialist blind spots are as myopic as they get. Perhaps you have a pair of glasses and a real thinking cap hidden somewhere in your basement. Just remove the dust and rinse with soap and warm water.

"Subsidies for Skytrain reached a quarter billion dollars last year, and even Canada Line with its 95,000 or so riders gets a $21 million dollar subsidy fix, which pleases the private part of the P3 arrangement." Quite right. As you point out, we're subsidizing urban sprawl.


@Rob Kwon;

I laugh at you thinking because I support certain projects, projects that make sense and serve someone aside from myself that I am a 'socialist'.

You are so far off the mark it is amazing.

@ Micheal

The concerns I have with your suggestions are twofold:

-It presupposes the municipality uses its current levies wisely and that the ability to raise funds whenever it needs to in the form of taxes properly incentivizes the municipalities to deliver the most cost effect solution (cost effective doesn’t necessarily = cheapest). I think the Translink model is a runaway train when it comes to an unelected body raising taxes when it has a short fall. I don’t feel they do a good job with the funds they have and look at raising taxes as their slush fund. Most companies can't operate that way so why should they?

-Charging additional fees on new housing stock has the potential to raise the cost of housing further. It also begs the question, is the CoV using the DCCs and CACs it collects now effectively or should they have been applying this to transit solutions from day one? I am not saying it is out of the question but I would like to see my first concern under control and then we can look at the adding more cost burdens to new housing. It is naïve to think the developers will be the one to pay the hit on this solution by lower profit expectations.

So let me get this straight. The provincial government spent one billion dollars on a new, swanky, and completely remodeled Sea to Sky and pays as much as $100 million annually to a P3 to oversee it. And in your judgement it's essential that we have this route toll free, and we can feel reassured that the younger group, who you say get in the majority of car accidents, can scoot up for some skiing or mountain biking and arrive back home safely the same day.

That means it's ok to spread a huge if not staggering cost involved in a leisure activity on the general population. Then why don't we build an underground tunnel for a maglev super train to take seniors to the Island golf courses, which would also boost general tourism to the Island. We can also throw in some vehicle lanes so people can commute there in their own cars if they like. Sorry if I was a little uncivil on my comment but sometimes I get upset at logic where I can't tell which way is up and which way is down.

Sorry Max,
but you are dead wrong dear!
Roads and cars DO NOT KILL people. Stupid, irresponsible, drunk, speeding, self entitled punks and their shiny Hummers or Trailer DRIVERS do!
I shouldn't be forced to pay for a road that I never take. I don't ski. I went to Whistler twice in the past decade. I rather go to Hawaii. You add the price for accommodation and food they are asking up there and it makes perfect sense to vacation somewhere else.
I do other less expensive activities.
Toll road to Whistler would have worked just fine for the rest of us. Rob,
I think Glissando Remmy's "mayoral road" in Peru is what we have here. Sure, we are all full of love for the Sea to Sky people...LOL

I guess you seem to discount the growing popultion that is working it way there.

People living/working in Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish and in between.

And then there are the tourists that come from all over to visit the area.

So how about getting over focusing solely on bashing the passage way because of skiing and other rec sports.

There is more going on in that area that involves the lives of others.

For decades we had zip in the way of new highway infrustructure, badly needed growth and repairs, and when it does happen, it is swiftly followed by complaints. Every body wants, no one wants to pay.

To discount the deaths of persons of all ages that have saddy happened on that route, well, it is just sad.

Damned if you do, damned if your don't.

You are on your own on this Max.
People who work in Whistler and live in Pemberton and Squamish and Vancouver do that because they cannot afford to live in Whistler. I heard stories of greedy multimillionaires villa owners renting rooms, I said rooms, to up to six people seasonal workers, for 500 dollars a piece a month. So the tourist season are making those who are already loaded richer on the backs of the ones that keep the tourist industry alive in Whistler. The solution would have been to ask those creeps to pay for it not me me and my family to pay for their golden road to the Bank! All done under the cover of a Winter Olympics Games...LOL So how is life better in Vancouver or/ and the region now that we hosted the Olympic Games? Do you feel enriched or something, you feel like you've been put on the map? You make me laugh lady...with sadness.


We could have the mayor and city hall bureaucracy hand out free subsidized chocolate bars and ice cream to the wonderful children of Vancouver once a month. Or perhaps we could hand that responsibility over to the parks board.

I don't have kids but I like kids and it would put a lot of smiles on children once a month, especially those from disadvantaged homes. Would I be a scrooge or hypocrite to say no don't do that? It's a Pandora's box of good intentions, which includes among many other things, political pandering.

We have that pandering with the free concerts and in Stanley Park and the Pride Parade. Now, before election time, Robertson is saying we need to bump up more funding for the parade, and some of the politicians are saying we need to give the Pride Parade civic status. This means tax payers cover everything. It makes Robertson look bad to say no to civic status. The pride organization is playing the pandering game saying look at what we paid for the play off fan zones.

The good intention subsidy spider web just keeps getting bigger, more unwieldy, and unmanageable.

The largest increase in the population of Squamish has come from Vancouver commuters – people who can’t live in Vancouver and don’t want to tackle the Port Mann Bridge.

As someone who lived in Squamish and commuted to Vancouver in the mid 90’s, Max is right, the highway was a death trap. More often than not a tourist took out a local because the tourist didn’t know how to drive the highway.

I think the solution is simple, toll it the same way we did for the Coquihala until the road is paid off. If the toll bool is between Squamish and Vancouver, Whistler commuters wouldn’t have an issue – similar to Merritt and the Coq. Commuters to Vancouver could get a subsidized rate. If the highway was build in part for tourists, they can help pay for it.

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