Langley Township Mayor Rick Green announced Thursday that he will not support the additional two-cent per litre TransLink fuel tax, which is to be used to fund the Evergreen Line construction and other TransLink projects.
The TransLink Mayors’ Council is to vote on the “supplement,” as it is formally called, on Friday.
Earlier this week, a coalition of mayors, including Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, stated that they supported the TransLink tax increase. The proposal is expected tp pass, as both Vancouver and Surrey favour it, and mayors have weighted votes, depending on the size of their communities.
See this website Friday for more on the vote, as the results become available.
Green’s press release announcing his decision is as folows:
N E W S R E L E A S E
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 6, 2011
From: Mayor Rick Green, Township of Langley
RE: TransLink Supplement Tax Increase Vote October 7, 2011
Since the introduction of this process, consideration for the TransLink
Supplement being proposed has undergone a considerable amount of
community consultation, meetings with our new Minister, and discussions
amongst ourselves (mayors from the Region). The result of all of this work and
close to three years of discussion and debate on the TransLink Board, where up
to now we have been united (unanimously) in opposition to any property tax
increase, it seems we are on the verge of folding in that position. I am opposed to
this proposed increase in gas tax and the potential for any property tax increase.
The public have had enough!
My decision to oppose this plan is not easy, but it is based on balance looking at
what is at stake for the region and the opportunities that we are passing up to
truly make the best long term decision.
Specifically why am I opposed? There are a number of reasons that on balance
do not provide me with the comfort that this is a good decision moving forward:
• The public have clearly said enough is enough to tax increases.
• Over the past three years we have had three Provincial Ministers of
Transportation, all three with differing views on TransLink and now two
Premiers. Where does the Province really stand on the issues facing us?
I haven’t seen anything to give me comfort going forward.
• Since Minister Lekstrom has been in the Minister’s chair (I will agree a
dramatic improvement from the former Ministers of Transportation) we
have had a litany of conflicting messages from the Province and the
Premier’s Office. Support for the gas tax, then no support for the gas tax,
then support for the gas tax, no support for the regional use of the
current Carbon Tax, then support from the Premier, then no support for
the current Carbon Tax, and just recently a quote suggesting she is in
favor of using the current Carbon Tax, and finally support to tackle the
contentious issue of governance by the Minister, and then a public
comment from the Premier that she wasn’t interested in reviewing this
issue. One has to ask: what is their position and what are they ultimately
in favor of?
• In my view and I believe in the view of the majority the main issue is the
need for governance change. The issues of needing and finding
additional revenue sources are secondary to the need to implement
meaningful and real governance change that can speak to local
involvement in setting priorities in needs and technology. I do not have
any comfort given messages to date that this issue will be addressed
• Is it reasonable, given the current election cycle (provincial election in
May of 2013), that it is in the interest of the Province to adequately deal
with these issues and not go to the fall-back position of two years of a
property tax increase? (That blame will fall to the cities and municipalities
of the region, not the province.)
• I have been living in hope after three years, talking about Langley
Township transit deficiencies at length at the TransLink Mayor’s Council
table, making two presentations at our monthly education sessions to
members of the TransLink Board and Mayor’s Council, and meeting with
the Translink executive on a number of occasions, that our needs might
appear on their radar screen. Not much to ask but that has not
happened, nor have I received any indication they are about to be.
• The Surrey Rapid Transit Study was introduced and sponsored by
TransLink, the City of Surrey, and the City of Langley, who went through
a process that claimed to embrace the needs of Surrey’s neighbors with
subsequent public consultation. The Township of Langley, the largest
neighbor of the City of Surrey, with a population four times that of the
Langley City and over 30 times its size in area, was in our opinion
ignored, as was some very viable, cost effective transportation initiatives
for the South of Fraser Region with no reasonable explanation and no
• The Township of Langley has supported the Metro Regional Growth
Strategy which proposes to almost double our population over the next
twenty plus years, which in ratio would make us over six times the size of
the City of Langley. With that, a review of TransLink’s 2040 plan provides
negligible transit improvement to support that planned growth in our
• Recently I was told that with the approval of new funding we would work
to provide (after some market research and surveys) some bus service
into Gloucester Industrial Estates, a 700 acre industrial park with 8,000 to
10,000 employees a day going in and out of the park. Property owners in
Gloucester submit $1.4 million per year for absolutely nothing. It is
indefensible. In a subsequent public consultation session held in
Guildford we were told that no, there was no plan for that service in this
Does the proposed plan offer enough service to our dramatically underserviced
region for the current revenue generated from our municipality? The answer is
NO. A resident in the Township of Langley requires (it is not an option) a vehicle.
In our case it is probably 2 – 3 vehicles per household. We continue to hear on
the morning news plans for the Broadway corridor or the SFU Gondola while we
continue to be ignored. I have said many times we cannot compete with high or
higher density parts of the region; nevertheless our taxpayers demand to receive
adequate benefits for the taxes they pay.
Township of Langley taxpayers contribute a significant amount of their tax dollars
to all major and minor transit projects and operations in the Metro region. Where
is the equity? Our residents are penalized by tolls on the Golden Ears, the Port
Mann and the Patullo when it is re-built, with absolutely no rapid transit, unlike
that on the north side of the river. Our rail corridor comes at no charge while
north of the River costs around $8 million per year.
There are a few other key issues that must be addressed to adequately address
our transportation needs south of the Fraser; that is we have two transit
providers, two regional districts, and one planning function under Metro
Vancouver. How do you properly address transit needs outside of any community
and regional planning function?
I urge all members of the Translink Mayor’s Council to turn down this supplement
in the interest of our taxpayers and lack of equity provided throughout the region.
W. Rick Green