‘We need more’

More options and better service a must for region when it comes to public transit.

Editor, The News:

Re: Rough ride for TLink vote (The News, Jan. 16).

We need more transportation options and better service in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Metro Vancouver.

We need to find a way to contribute more tax dollars to fund this improved transportation.

Does this mean we need to pay more tax? Yes, probably.

But regardless of how the tax money is collected, each and every contributor needs to see value for every cent paid. The key word is value.

The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation wants to spend $7.5 billion in the next 10 years drastically improving the transportation picture in Metro Vancouver. The mayors have reviewed several new funding sources and have determined that a 0.5 per cent regional increase to the Provincial Sales Tax is the most fair funding source. Everyone pays, everyone benefits is their motto.

This is where the value proposition comes into question for me. With the mayors’ plan, there are approximately 100,000 of us living in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows who will be paying the same 0.5 per cent as the rest of Metro Vancouver residents. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, is the chair of the Mayors’ Council and is committed to building a 5.1 kilometre subway off the Millennium SkyTrain line.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner is the vice-chair of the Mayors’ Council and is committed to bringing light rail transit to Surrey.

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are hoping to receive a B-line bus to the new Evergreen Line, one more West Coast Express Train and some busses.

How does this value proposition seem fair?

We all pay the same 0.5 per cent. Why wouldn’t we receive a reasonable amount of funding to help our specific region grow properly.

On top of this, the Mayors’ Council has already stated it is looking at and planning to implement road pricing. This means in addition to the new 0.5 per cent tax, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows residents will have to pay for the privilege of driving on the roads to the rest of Metro Vancouver.

So, we still have an inadequate transit system and have to drive to get where we need to go and we have to pay the same 0.5 per cent regional tax as a Vancouver or Surrey resident.

And their property values will continue to skyrocket.

This doesn’t sound like ‘everyone pays, everyone benefits.’

To be fair, I’m completely on board with road pricing; in fact, I think all bridges should be tolled. My family pays about $600 per year to use the Golden Ears Bridge. I’m satisfied with this. It gets us to where we want to go quickly and efficiently.

Road pricing and bridge tolls combined with other initiatives like a transportation property tax weighted to the areas receiving the most improvements are the absolute fairest way to start collecting funds to pay for improved transportation. You use it, you pay for it.

Nick Davis

Maple Ridge