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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for September 16th, 2010

“Mayors consider raising taxes to pay for TransLink”

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The Vancouver Sun headline is deliberately misleading to attract attention. One Mayor – Peter Fassbender – is anticipating what might happen at a meeting next week. Nothing in the story is news, and nothing in the story suggests that any other Mayor has supported this idea publicly. The provincial government has made it very clear that it wants property taxes to rise to pay for the Evergreen Line. They have been very clear about that. Fassbender has been talking up the role of the Mayor’s Council – but basically the province is not at all interested in making the Mayor’s lives any easier.

Martin Crilly puts out a report – which is fine – talks about road pricing. But that isn’t going to happen – and couldn’t happen fast enough anyway to dig Translink out of its present hole.   No-one needs to listen to the Transit Commissioner: he is irrelevant.

The gap between the gas tax inside the Metro boundary and just outside it is already large – and is a gift to gas station operators on the outer edge, since they can appear to sell cheaper gas. But the difference between a gas station in Aldergrove and one in Abbotsford is much less than the tax difference in the two jurisdictions. The government is so unpopular now that it could almost do anything it likes without making matters worse – but since Gordo got back from his holidays, the mood has changed. He obviously wants to get his own ratings up – and, bafflingly, he seems to be succeeding. No-one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the public. Of course the spin would be to blame the tax increase on Translink – but not nearly enough people would believe that – would they?

I think Fassbender is trying to soften people up for the increase in property tax which is about the only option left open – other than saying no to a new transit line once again. Last time the Mayors did that they lost control of regional transit. Not many Mayors outside of the north east sector are willing to see their voters’ taxes increased to pay for the Evergreen Line – and certainly none south of the Fraser where transit remains undersupplied after ten years of regional “direction”.

“We have a window of time to either come up with our commitment or the government will have to do something else,” Fassbender said. “[A financial supplement] is the only way we can come up with our share. What it looks like I don’t know yet because it hasn’t been developed.”

That sounds a lot like capitulation to me

UPDATE

It is worth taking a look at Frances Bula’s blog – she seems to be talking to the Mayors, although only Corrigan (of course) was willing to go ont he record. The real difference is to what is above is their perception that new sources of revenue (something the province was NOT willing to discuss before) are now “on the table”.

“I don’t think we’re caving to anything,” said Langley mayor Peter Fassbender, the chairman of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council. “If the province was saying, ‘We’re not willing to talk about other options,’ this would be a no-go. But I see a willingness on their part to say, ‘Let’s put everything on the table.’”

I tend to agree with Corrigan

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan believes that regional mayors are about to get taken for another ride by the province, one where they’ll be left paying all the bills again.

“When will they learn? They keep buying into these promises and then they get taken to the cleaners.”

Interesting to note too that the people who read this blog care a lot about their cell phones, and tramcars of course, but have much less to say about taxes.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 16, 2010 at 9:50 am

Posted in transit

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