Transit service is sufficiently sparse to cause most members of Langley Township council to question additional TransLink taxes.

Transit service is sufficiently sparse to cause most members of Langley Township council to question additional TransLink taxes.

TransLink gets minimal support from Township council

Only Councillor Grant Ward was willing to give the beleagured agency full support.

With the exception of Councillor Grant Ward, no one on Langley Township council seems to be happy about the state of affairs at TransLink.

In a lengthy debate on TransLink and taxation at Monday night’s meeting, only Ward offered any support for the beleagured transportation agency.

The debate was prompted by the latest two-cent gas tax increase, which went into effect on Sunday,and a suggestion by the Mayors’ Council that the province authorize TransLink to start collecting a vehicle tax.

While Councillor Kim Richter said she doesn’t want to see TransLink get any additional money from Langley residents “until they can prove that they’re worth what Township residents are paying,” Ward disagreed.

“TransLink is supposed to seek solutions and find money,” he said. “Seventy-four per cent of the revenue from the additional gas tax is coming back south of the Fraser. How can you say we are not getting our fair share? To say we will stop paying any (extra) taxes is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

Councillor Steve Ferguson raised the spectre that there may be no buses running from the new park and ride lot in Willoughby when it opens in conjunction with the freeway improvements.

Councillor Charlie Fox noted that “the governance of TransLink is broken,” and council needs to hear from both TransLink and the Mayors’ Council about new tax proposals and proposed service improvements. Richter said she wants to know specifically how much is paid by Langley residents and what is spent by TransLink in providing service to Langley.

Fox said the gas tax “Is grossly unfair,” as it forces people who have no options to pay more for gas, so that transit service is provided to other parts of the region.

Mayor Jack Froese said the Mayors’ Council,made several suggestions on new tax sources because it has to come up with another $30 million to help fund the Evergreen rapid transit line in Coquitlam, despite the two-cent gas tax increase. If there are no solutions, “the fallback is the property tax,” he said.

He said that without the additional tax revenue, there would be no buses running across the Fraser on the new Port Mann Bridge.

“I agree we don’t get enough (service),” he said. “We are stuck with a system that is not sustainable.”

Froese said that a property tax increase “is even more unfair than a vehicle levy.”

Ferguson said that none of the issues surrounding TransLink will be sorted out until after the next provincial election. He also said that TransLink’s inability to enforce payment of tickets issued for not paying fares has  caused members of the public to lose what little bit of confidence they had in the agency.

Council agreed to invite TransLink and a representative of the Mayors’ Council to speak to it on how much the agency takes from Langley, what services it provides, its future plans and issues surrounding new taxes.