Even as the Canada Line project enters the home stretch, one key part of the project won't be finished.

CTV News has learned that the new "London-style" smart card and turnstile system announced amid much fanfare is still in the design phase and won't be finished in time for the first train.

Having no turnstiles means a green light for riders who don't want to pay, said Evelina Halsey-Brandt, a Richmond city councillor.

"When the province committed to ensuring that turnstiles would be put in, I expected they would be in when the trains were," she said.

"We have the one item that's the easiest to do, to install something physical there and a barrier to keep people from accessing the area where they shouldn't be if they have not paid their fares," she said.

And that means that TransLink lags behind on the system for collecting fares at the Canada Line.

The transit authority is moving quickly on finding a way to make up an $18-million shortfall by dipping into your pocket with a possible property tax hike.

The shortfall comes from a controversial parking tax, which was canceled by the government last year. It raised $19-million in 2006 and $21-million in 2007.

TransLink says it needs the money -- but the question is where it will come from, said spokesman Ken Hardie.

"The question now is should it be shared, and if so how should it be shared," said Hardie.

Critics are lining up to suggest TransLink is already taking enough of your tax dollars.

"People feel they're tapped out, and as the economy begins to shift a little bit, I think people are increasingly anxious about their own financial circumstances and their ability to stay in their homes," said the NDP's Bruce Ralston.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Stephen Smart