Bridge and tunnel tolling plan discriminates against parts of Metro Vancouver, mayor says

District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton says a recommendation to toll bridges and tunnels in Metro Vancouver during peak rush hour times isn't going to fly particularly well with his constituents.

Richard Walton says guiding principle of any congestion pricing plan must be equity

A report from Canada's Ecofiscal Commission recommends variable pricing, to reduce regional congestion for each of Metro Vancouver's bridges and tunnels that cross waterways, such as the Lions Gate Bridge pictured above. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton says a recommendation to toll bridges and tunnels in Metro Vancouver during peak rush hour times isn't going to fly particularly well with his constituents.

"It discriminates significantly against certain parts of the region," said Walton on CBC's The Early Edition.

Walton was reacting to a plan put forward by Canada's Ecofiscal Commission that recommends cities consider congestion pricing that would see drivers pay a fee for using bridges and tunnels during peak times.

Chris Ragan, the commission's chair, says the recommendation is based on the principle that a small price on congested road space gets people to rethink their driving habits. Reduced congestion is achieved as people drive a little earlier or later in the day to avoid tolls during peak times.

Walton said the reasoning behind the report is sound, but takes issue with the recommendation to Metro Vancouver to toll bridges and tunnels.

"The challenge, as they identify in the report, is that the geography of most cities is unique and ours is probably one of the most problematic," said Walton.

He says the plan ignores the fact that someone would be able to drive from Cloverdale to Tsawwassen, or from Port Moody to UBC, without paying any kind of congestion charges for example.

Meanwhile, commuters from the North Shore who rely on the Lions Gate bridge to get into downtown would be charged for using the bridge during peak hours, according to the plan put forward by the commission.

Walton is not against tolling points on some of the major highways and roads leading into Vancouver, but says figuring out where those tolling point should be requires consultation from all parts of Metro Vancouver.

In order for it to work, he says the guiding principle for any congestion plan must be equity.

"There needs to be a sense throughout the region that there's something for everyone," said Walton.

"You need to make sure that everybody sees their life is going to improve as a result of a particular process and you need representation in developing it from all areas."

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