Mayors’ Council Chair Derek Corrigan defends a gas tax hike after a joint Mayors’ Council and Translink board meeting Thursday. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows split on 1.5 cent gas tax increase

Maple Ridge mayor voted against investment plan; Pitt Meadows Mayor voted in favour of plan

  • Jul. 6, 2018 6:00 a.m.

TransLink’s Mayors’ Council voted last Thursday to pass a 1.5 cent gas tax increase to fund a $30-million funding gap to pay for regional transit upgrades.

The approved $7.3-billion improvements are part ofPhase 2 of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision to deliver transportation and service improvements across the region.

The Mayors’ Council voted in favour to have the province introduce legislation in spring 2019 which will allow the region to increase the gas fuel tax up to 1.5 cents per litre. Currently, the gas tax is 17 cents per litre, so the 2019 increase will result in 18.5 cents per litre. A report in May revealed that Metro Vancouver drivers pay the highest tax on gas throughout Canada. According to TransLink, the gas tax hasn’t increased since 2012.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read was among those opposed to the increase in gas tax however.

Read said people in the eastern parts of Metro Vancouver have fewer transit options and are forced to pay the extra in gas tax.

“The gas tax is just a uniform tax that really penalizes the people who have to drive the farthest,” Read said.

Read said she voted against the investment plan to send a message on behalf of Maple Ridge residents that the fuel tax and unequitable funding mechanisms are not on.

Others to oppose the plan were the mayors of Port Moody, Anmore, Township of Langley, and the Tsawwassen First Nation chief.

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker voted in favour of the investment plan but remains reluctant to the fuel tax increase.

“As a funding source it’s not sustainable, it’s going to go down over time with electric vehicles and it’s unequitable,” said Becker.

Becker said Pitt Meadows is not the beneficiary of transit improvements in Phase 2, resulting in residents spending more time in their vehicles and less time on public transit.

“Gas tax will fall unfairly on the shoulders of those who are poorly served by transit.”

Becker voted in favour of the overall investment plan because he said it didn’t make sense to oppose it because of his disagreement with the $30-million funding source.

“I supported the motion to defer the gas tax to allow staff to go back and discuss it, but the deferral motion was defeated so at that point, we were left with approving or not approving the investment plan. By adopting the gas tax and confirming we meet the legislative requirements for the investment plan in Phase 2, we can now move ahead with the implication,” Becker added.

Becker believes once the gas tax is implemented, Pitt Meadows residents will cross the Metro Vancouver border into Mission to purchase gas and avoid the tax.

Becker added that earlier this year, the Mayors’ Council presented a fuel tax as one of many funding options, but it was denounced as a viable option.

Before the tax comes into effect, Becker said he plans on suggesting through the Mayors’ council finance committee the decision be revisited.

Pitt Meadows Coun. Bill Dingwall also opposes the gas tax increase because of the unfair impact on citizens who commute to work.

“It unfairly penalizes our citizens who likely have further distances to travel for work, sports and social activities than others, as well as having considerably less public transit options that larger cities have. In Pitt Meadows, about 85 per cent commute by car because there’s not enough transit to get there in a timely manner.”

Dingwall believes transit users are not contributing in the same way drivers are and suggests a generalized tax for all citizens would be more fair and sensible.

“That way it hits everybody. They don’t have to raise it as much because they’d be hitting everybody.”

Phase 2 of the plan will include an extension of the Millennium Skytrain Line, construction of light rail transit in Surrey, more hours of bus service, and upgrades to the Major Road Network.

The region will also fund the plan through transit fare increases, property tax increases, parking tax increases and increased revenue from ridership growth.

Just Posted

News Views: ‘Pete’s Place’

Pete Seigo was a well-known, long-time homeless person in Maple Ridge.

OCOP: Bringing Broadway to elementary school stages

Carole Dagenais plans to keep up theatre into retirement

Along the Fraser: Fire prevention at UBC research forest

The gap has grown between expenditures for response to wildfires.

Pitt Meadows loses senior football squad

But junior team wins big in opener

Pitt Meadows BMX racer competes in Argentina

Alex Tougas racing for Team Canada in World Cup events

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income owners in Lower Mainland

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only seven of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

The mountain pine beetle epidemic affected more than 180,000 square kilometres in B.C.

Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Hydro Ottawa says more than 170,000 customers were without power early this morning

Most Read