Mixed reviews for mayors’ transit funding options 0
TransLink plans to use $98 million found in "new efficiencies" to fund upgrades to seven SkyTrain stations. (FILE PHOTO)
The BC NDP is ready to support at least one of the five funding options pitched by the Mayors’ Council for TransLink this week to stave off service cuts, while Transportation Minister Mary Polak indicated the authority needed to do “more work” to convince her.
NDP MLA Harry Bains said his party was committed to reallocating some of the current carbon tax revenues generated within Metro Vancouver for TransLink.
“We will roll back the corporate tax breaks that they received out of the carbon tax back to 2009 levels,” said opposition critic for transportation Bains. “It will free up a lot of money.”
The mayors pitched either reallocation of current revenues or creating a new regional carbon tax.
Polak said there are serious questions regarding whether a regional carbon tax is the way to go.
“There are questions around that in terms of sustainability, especially as behaviours change,” she said. “We saw that with the two-cents-a-litre gas tax.”
The other four options proposed were increasing the PST above 7% when it replaces the HST April 1 — generating as much as $250 million — implementing a vehicle levy, land speculation and road pricing.
Polak said the mayors still hadn’t proven their case for any options according to the criteria she outlined in December, including showing affordability and public support.
“They’ve made significant progress,” she said. “They have more work to do to get there.”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s asserted this week TransLink has a spending problem. Polak said that perception was holding back public support for funding options.
“I think it’s one of the things that TransLink and the Mayors’ Council are struggling with in trying to generate public support,” she said.
Bains said the NDP would need to discuss the other four options with TransLink before making any commitment. The party would, however, change the transit authority’s governance structure to give it more say over funding formulas.