Pay extra for transit privilege

Additional tax should be on lands profitably developed near SkyTrain

Editor, The News:

For anyone with a memory, let me remind you about Expo ’86.

SkyTrain was built, in part as a premium transportation system for the fair.

After the buildings were dismantled, the property was sold for a whooping $16 million.

I recall the taxpayers (me) had to pay for the environmental clean-up, as well.

This was prime heavy industrial property for well near a century, so the toxins that lay in the soil were nothing to sneeze at.

I don’t recall the price tag, but to be sure, it ate into the $16 million quite a bit.

Today, we have prime real estate in all those lands.

Who paid for it? You and me, the taxpayers.

What makes it prime real estate? Well, the view, the location and, perhaps, its four SkyTrain stations.

This week’s news announced the world’s billionaires, according to Forbes, and at No. 177, worth $7.5 billion is the man who managed to flip this $16-million property to …

I can’t even imagine what it is worth today.

I don’t blame Jimmy Pattison and I have no problem with free enterprise. He obviously put money of his own into the redevelopment and his holdings have paid monumental taxes to the provincial government and the City of Vancouver.

I can’t even say this is the only reason why he has $7.5 billion today. I am sure he has made other wise investments.

Others made a killing on these lands, as well, and there were many speculators, nearby property owners and real estate agents that became instant millionaires. They probably paid their taxes.

Here is the point I want to make: I paid for this. I paid for SkyTrain to make this a valuable piece of real estate.

Is it too much to add a minute fraction of additional property tax to those lands that will go directly to TransLink?

Can we not take a small percentage off the commission of the agents who sell property within these lands?

We have to pay an additional tax to buy a used car in this province, so why can’t the province take a transit levy to sell property in these lands?

If you think this property is unique, look at other developments. There are Metrotown, Whalley, and a new mall on Sea Island, new developments at Oakridge Mall and Brentwood Mall, there’s downtown New Westminster and Sapperton. Every development around the SkyTrain stations can pay for TransLink improvements. We have given them the infrastructure that leads to their success, so why should they not pay extra for the privilege?

I have no problem with a transit plan going forth. I just don’t think the same people that have paid and paid and paid and paid (times 20) should be paying more.

I don’t think the same people who have squandered our contribution should be getting more or running things in the future.

Yes, you can say that less congestion benefits us all, but it obviously has benefitted some more than others.

I have often been reminded that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

Well, 20 forms of taxes have left our pockets in some way or form to support TransLink.

Will No. 21 be the magic cure-all?

Nick Sanger

Maple Ridge

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