Editor: After watching the news recently, it is unfortunate that the region’s mayors and TransLink management still do not get the message.
This was not a necessarily a vote against Lower Mainland citizens paying for regional transit, but it was a vote against giving TransLink more money and the misspending of that money.
The mayors are more concerned about raising property taxes in their term of office rather than using this mechanism to fund current and long-term sustainable solutions to the region’s transportation issues. This self-interest —NIMTOO (Not In My Term of Office) — thinking over the past 30 or more years has created many of today’s problems with Lower Mainland regional transportation.
TransLink should be abolished and its leadership removed and both replaced by a cost-effective organization that is accountable for its services and actions in providing those services.
Regional transportation issues need to be addressed equitably and involve all who inhabit the region. Funding for schools, water, sewer are examples of regional costs shared at the property tax level.
Whether we, as inhabitants of the region, use roads, rail, or sidewalks as we walk, cycle, ride buses, use SkyTrain and — yes — drive, the total cost of the infrastructure needs to be shared across the region by each one of us.
An equitable sharing of these costs would be to have them identified as a bundle of total costs, as they exist now and what will be needed for the future.
A “base” for this bundle of total costs would then assessed across the region against individual property taxes. Renters would pay the tax in the their rents.
In addition, a user fee for each service would be established so that users pay a fee for their direct use to maintain and sustain this infrastructure.
For example, cyclists would pay an annual licensing fee to offset the cost of the building and maintaining bike lanes, transit users would pay for their use of the buses and SkyTrain, and drivers would pay for using road and bridge infrastructure by way of tolls. This would spread the cost and responsibility among all users and not benefit one group at the cost of another.
Existing transit and like taxes and levies that are currently being collected at the pump and elsewhere would be reviewed and eliminated, as would similar taxes and levies collected in BC Hydro bills, the Carbon Tax, etc., and be replaced by this more direct, equitable and sustainable solution.