Metro Vancouver mayors to approve gas tax hike
A jump in Metro Vancouver gas prices appears inevitable after a group of seven regional mayors pledged their support for a TransLink plan involving a two cents per litre gas tax hike to help fund the Evergreen Line and other transit projects.
The mayors, including Vancouver's Gregor Robertson and Surrey's Dianne Watts, issued a joint statement Tuesday in favour of TransLink's "Moving Forward" proposal that would also bring about $400 million in federal funding and $600 million in provincial funding for the region.
The mayors represent 70 per cent of the population of Metro Vancouver, and their weighted votes can pass the plan even if the majority of the 22 representatives on the Mayor's Council on Regional Transportation vote it down.
The council is set to vote on the proposal this Friday.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender, Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton and West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones also came out in support of the plan.
The group says TransLink's plan would benefit every municipality in the region. It earmarks $20 million for major road improvements, $6 million for cycling infrastructure, and would implement a new rapid bus service on Highway 1 from Langley to the Lougheed SkyTrain Station.
It also includes funding for SkyTrain station and SeaBus improvements, and an additional 425,000 hours of annual bus service for the region.
The gas tax hike is expected to generate $32-45 million per year to fund the plans, which are expected to cost about $70 million annually.
To pay for the rest, TransLink's plan also includes a time-limited property tax increase amounting to an estimated $23 annually for average households. If no alternative funding sources are approved, the increase would likely take effect in 2013.
TransLink already collects a 15 cents per litre gas tax.
The $1.4-billion Evergreen line has been in discussion since the late 1980s, but has been stalled repeatedly due to funding problems.