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.