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NDP leader Horgan says bridge tolls resonating in Maple Ridge

Second visit on Easter Sunday in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows as May 9 election gets closer
NDP leader John Horgan kicked off Easter egg hunt Sunday

NDP leader John Horgan returned to Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Sunday continuing to hammer away at the party's top issue in this area during the B.C. election.

"The tolls on the Golden Ears Bridge have been a big problem with people here. They were given a way to get across the river and then they were told they have to pay for it," Horgan said during a stop for an Easter egg hunt at the home of Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs.

"... the only people in the province, outside those on the Port Mann, who have to pay for public infrastructure."

It's an affordability issue, and Horgan blamed the Liberals for that, along with rising ICBC rates and B.C. Hydro rates.

While the NDP calls for removing tolls entirely, the Liberals plan on capping the toll costs for motorists using the Port Mann Bridge and the Golden Ears Bridge at $500 a year. Tolls on both bridges raise about $200 million a year.

Horgan was asked about the Liberals citing statistics that say B.C. has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. People though are still facing rising costs, Horgan said. "Month after month, the costs keep going up.

"And those are costs that have been imposed by government."

He said the tolling issue resonates in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows and said that the cost of removing the tolls is funded for three years. As to what happens after that, "We'll see what happens in three years," Horgan said. He said that 96,000 jobs will be created by growing public infrastructure.

"There's no toll on the new bridge in Kelowna. There's no toll on the Sea to Sky Highway. There is on the Golden Ears Bridge ... and there is on the Port Mann Bridge. That's unfair to the people south of the Fraser.

"I think there's relief that there's help on the way when it comes to getting across the river."

Horgan previously visited Maple Ridge in late March making a campaign statement about supporting Phase 1 of the Mayors' Plan for regional transportation, only to have the Liberals point out that the plan is already being implemented and is already fully funded.

"We feel we've got a very positive message," said Maple Ridge-Mission candidate Bob D'Eith. "We invite anybody to look at the plan."

He pointed out that B.C. is only province still with medical service plan premiums. The Liberals have promised to cut premiums in half next year. The NDP plans making a similar cut, then phasing out the premiums over a four-year period.

D'Eith is running against Liberal candidate Marc Dalton, Green party candidate Peter Tam and Conservative Trevor Hamilton.

Last week, Dalton said that Hamilton should step out of the race because of Facebook posts Hamilton had made earlier.

Hamilton said his comments were meant to be sarcastic that the Liberals were desperate in making that announcement.