British Columbia

7 Metro Vancouver mayors back new gas tax

A proposed gas tax hike in Metro Vancouver will likely be approved this week, according to a joint statement issued by a group of seven area mayors on Tuesday.
The CBC's Leah Hendry looks at Metro Vancouver's controversial vote which is expected to raise gas taxes by two cents per litre 2:25

A proposed gas tax hike in Metro Vancouver will likely be approved this week, according to a joint statement issued by a group of seven area mayors on Tuesday.

The seven mayors represent, who represent more than 70 per cent of the region’s population, say they will vote in favour of the two-cent-per-litre gas tax hike this Friday.

The money will be used to help pay for TransLink projects like the Evergreen Line and increased bus service south of the Fraser.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said she will vote in favour of the gas tax because she believes it's best for her community, and the money is essential to pay for better service.

"You know, this is for the next generation, to make sure they have got a sustainable region. This is looking into the future."

The statement was issued on behalf of:

  • Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
  • Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.
  • Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore.
  • Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender.
  • Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart.
  • District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton .
  • West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones.

Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender said it was a difficult decision, but he will support the tax.

"The benefit of improved transit throughout the region outweighs the costs in the short term," Fassbender said. "It will help us to chart a path for the future."

But Fassbender says the increased gas tax still won't pay for all the regions' transportation needs, so he wants to see tolling on all of metro Vancouver's bridges.

"We could lower tolls across the region if we were to do something like that, and so all of us would pay a $1 or a $1.50 when we use the structures.

"I think there is a case that can be made, and I think reasonable people will see that to ensure that we are being fair throughout the region," said Fassbender.

'Another Band-Aid'

The mayor's are expected to vote in favour of the gas tax hike on Friday. If it's approved it will likely go into effect as soon as April 2012.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, however, says he'll vote 'No' on Friday.

"Permanent funding sources have always been a problem for this organization," he said. "All we are doing by approving this is putting another Band-Aid over the problem."

The proposed gas tax hike isn't going over well with drivers, including Paul Sangha.

"I live in North Delta, driving [to Vancouver] and going back is $25 a day," he said. "They have to come up with money from somewhere and nobody else wants to give them the money."

Metro Vancouver mayors will still need to come up with an additional $30 million to pay for the projects, likely through road tolls and property tax increases.

Drivers in Metro Vancouver currently pay a motor fuel tax of 23.5 cents per litre on top of the B.C. carbon tax, which rose to 5.56 cents per litre in July 2011 and will reach 6.67 cents a litre on July 1, 2012.

With files from the CBC's Aarti Pole and Renee Filippone