Evergreen Line gas tax gets premier's support
Christy Clark says she now supports her transportation minister's plan
Plans for a Metro Vancouver gas tax to pay for the Evergreen Rapid Transit Line are still in works, despite the premier's comments earlier this week that she has reservations about the deal.
Last week Minister Blair Lekstom announced a deal had been struck with regional mayors to hike gas taxes in Metro Vancouver to pay for the rapid transit line in the Coquitlam area.
But then on Monday Premier Christy Clark said she did not support Lekstom's deal with the mayors because it was unaffordable.
"I understand they are talking this through now. I am going to give them a little more time. When British Columbians say they are not really excited about seeing more gas taxes, I get that," said Clark.
But on Wednesday Lekstrom said he has spoken to the premier about his promise to the mayors and she is now supportive of the plan.
"I have talked to her about the comments she made. We are very clearly on the same page. I was asked to go do a job. I am proud of the work I did with the Mayors Council and the premier is supportive of the outcome of that," he said.
Legislation will be introduced in the fall paving the way for the new gas tax that would go into effect in the spring, he confirmed.
"I stand by what I have committed to with the Mayors Council and I will not waver one inch on that," said Lekstrom.
Premier puts support in writing
Clark has also sent a letter to the chair of Mayors Council, North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton, putting her support for the plan in writing this time.
"I want to thank you and your fellow mayors for your hard work on what has been a challenging and complex issue and look forward to the resutls of your public consultation," she said.
The two cent per litre increase in gas taxes is expected to generate about $40 million a year in revenue to help pay for the municipal governments' $400-million share of the $1-billion Evergreen Line and a host of other transit projects.
The province and the federal governments have already committed more than $600 million to pay for the line.