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Joined: 05 Dec 2008
Posts: 86
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votes: 2
Location: North Vancouver

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 3:35 pm    Post subject: Transit tax grab: (Translink BC, next stop: your city) Reply with quote

Last day to tell Translink what you think of their planning process. www.translink.ca or http://www.translink.ca/Home/G.....0Plan.aspx

Never mind that the survey is skewed to buy into their plans for more taxes and their preferred high-density, high cost solutions.

For more perspective, see http://www2.canada.com/compone.....p;sponsor=


TransLink 'tax grab' gouging drivers

Maureen Bader
Coquitlam NOW

Friday, June 19, 2009

Each year, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation holds a Gas Tax Honesty Day so motorists know that tax is the biggest single component of the pump price.

Taxes, for drivers in the Lower Mainland, account for about 37 per cent of the price of a litre of gasoline. Motorists should also know the biggest chunk of this tax does not help fund health care and education; it funds the Lower Mainland's transit behemoth, TransLink.

In the Lower Mainland, the cost of oil accounts for 32 per cent of the price of a litre of gasoline, refining for 22 per cent and marketing for nine per cent. The remainder is a myriad of gas taxes including a 10-cent per litre federal tax, a 6.75-cent British Columbia Transportation Authority tax, a 2.34-cent carbon tax, a 1.75-cent provincial tax and, the biggest of them all, a 12-cent TransLink tax. To top it off, drivers pay GST on the entire pump price, including other taxes.

The TransLink tax grab has gone nowhere but up. It rose from eight cents per litre in 1999 when it was created, to 12 cents per litre in 2005, where it still sits. From this, TransLink raked in $262 million from gas taxes in 2008. Under new legislation, TransLink is able to raise its gas tax to 15 cents per litre, so if TransLink's lobbying efforts are successful, expect to pay even more tax at the pump.

Drivers aren't the only ones gouged by TransLink. In 2008, TransLink also collected $256 million in property taxes, $9 million in parking site taxes, $18 million in hydro taxes and $15 million in parking sales taxes. The brain trust in Victoria should explain the link between heating and lighting a home and taking the bus -- this is nothing more than a tax grab.

Drivers might be surprised to learn that TransLink's mandate includes funding and operating a regional transportation system that includes the major road network in the Lower Mainland. Drivers should be surprised because they funded about 30 per cent of TransLink's costs in 2008 yet only benefit from about five per cent of TransLink's spending.

In fact, TransLink spends more on administration than it does on road maintenance. This may be no surprise as the big pay increase the new board of directors gave themselves in 2008 in a closed meeting was widely reported.

This increase helped boost the cost of the new board five times higher than that of the old board. Some TransLink salaries, such as former CEO Pat Jacobson's, at $360,595 in 2007, were almost six times the median income level in B.C. of $62,600.

According to the B.C. Trucking Association analysis of TransLink's 10-year plan, the driver's burden will get even worse. TransLink plans to have road users pay more and get less. Road users would pay more than 60 per cent of the planned tax hike, but get no additional benefit.

What makes this gouging even worse is that TransLink's own estimates show people will still prefer to use their cars in the future. Public transit ridership will increase by only 2.3 per cent per year to 2012, and 1.5 per cent annually after that, while TransLink's costs will go up by 20 per cent between 2009 and 2011.

There is no evidence showing TransLink's share of trips in the Lower Mainland will increase beyond its historic share of approximately 11 per cent. Drivers will continue to use their private vehicles to get from A to B and, as TransLink's priority is public transit, ever higher taxes to TransLink will not help solve most people's transportation problems.

Drivers are reaching their limit on their willingness to be gouged by governments. TransLink will continue to use drivers as a cash cow for politically motivated spending and to pay for its high administration costs while the economy of the Lower Mainland will be left stuck in traffic.

It's time to take the responsibility for roads and gas tax revenues away from TransLink and downsize TransLink's grandiose plans to match peoples' ability -- and willingness -- to pay.
Coquitlam Now 2009

Translink's unelected and unaccountable policies are just part of a bigger consolidation of bureaucracy, namely Metro Vancouver, that is pushing for higher density, all in the name of being greener and more livable.

Metro Vancouver has the highest housing prices in Canada and arguably the worst traffic as well (we even have an all traffic radio station)

The cause for this? It's easy to see the failings of the centrally planned, anti-growth, pro government GVRD/Metro Vancouver planners:

Unlivable Strategies: The Greater Vancouver Regional District and the Livable Region Strategic Plan



Wrong Way to Make a Region Livable

by Randal O'Toole

Randal O'Toole is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and author of The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths: How Smart Growth Harms American Cities.

Added to cato.org on June 13, 2007

This article appeared in the Vancouver Sun on June 12, 2007.

Property owners in the Lower Mainland face some of the strictest land–use regulations in Canada, with more than two-thirds of the region off limits to development. Not coincidentally, Vancouver also has the least affordable housing in Canada.

TransLink, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, is building expensive light–rail and other transit lines, and has given relief of highway congestion the lowest priority for funding.

Not coincidentally, Vancouver shares with Toronto and Montreal the record of most time and fuel wasted per commuter of any urban area in Canada.

Randal O'Toole is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and author of The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths: How Smart Growth Harms American Cities.
More by Randal O'Toole

In 1995, the provincial government asked the Greater Vancouver Regional District to write a "strategic plan" for the region. The legislature gave planners 14 goals, including maintaining housing affordability, providing efficient transportation and protecting the unique character of communities.

The GVRD responded with its Livable Region Strategic Plan. But rather than meet all 14 goals, this plan focused on just two — "avoiding urban sprawl" and "minimize the use of automobiles." Unfortunately, achieving these goals meant discarding several of the others.

To avoid sprawl, the GVRD closed more than 70 per cent of the region's land to development and mandated that all cities in the region accommodate growth by increasing population densities. The result has been skyrocketing housing prices and, for most families, an end to the great Canadian dream of owning your own single–family home.

To minimize automobile use, TransLink spends a large share of the region's limited transportation funds on various forms of rail transit. These expensive projects will not get a significant number of people out of their automobiles.

The growing congestion that results will only waste the time of the 90 per cent of people in the region who rely on autos as their main source of transport.

Meanwhile, the mania for density is destroying the unique character of communities. District planners directed cities and towns to move more of their residents into five–story apartments and condo towers.

Cities are also supposed to provide a "jobs–labour balance." This means cities like Surrey that have almost twice as many workers as jobs are expected to add more than 100,000 new jobs.

Meanwhile, cities like Burnaby that have more jobs than workers are supposed to discourage new businesses. The result will be that everything looks exactly alike.

Where will it end? Vancouver is already the densest major city in Canada, 14 per cent denser than Montreal and 27 per cent denser than Toronto and Victoria. The only incorporated Canadian town of any size that is denser than Vancouver (by a mere one per cent) is the Montreal suburb of Westmount.

Vancouver's Mayor Sam Sullivan says even more density is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This argument is without foundation. Research shows that building, heating, and operating highrise condos emits more greenhouse gases than single–family homes.

Density also increases traffic congestion, and cars produce the most pollution and greenhouse gases in congested traffic.

The region will not reduce carbon emissions by forcing people to waste fuel in stop–and–go traffic.

Just who decided that "avoiding sprawl" should be the paramount goal of the region's planners anyway?

This goal should be laughable in a province that has some of the lowest population densities in the world, all of whose cities, towns, and villages cover less than one-half per cent of British Columbia.

Planners have their priorities upside down. In a province such as B.C., which is 99 per cent rural open space, or even a region such as Vancouver, which is more than 70 per cent open space, keeping housing affordable is more important the preserving every last acre of undeveloped land.

Nearly three out of four Canadians aspire to live in a single–family home with a yard. The yards people want to own are some of the most valuable sources of open space and outdoor recreation a city can have. Denying this goal to most of the region's residents makes Vancouver less livable, not more.

Discouraging driving is even dumber. Besides being the most convenient form of urban transport ever invented, autos have given Canadians access to better jobs, housing and recreation, and Canadians are not going to give them up.

If driving has problems, such as greenhouse gas emissions, fix those problems. One of the world's leading alternative fuel research labs is located right in Burnaby, yet planners chose social engineering over technical solutions to pollution.

Government strategic planning inevitably does more harm than good. The province should break up the GVRD and TransLink into decentralized, user–fee–driven agencies each focusing on a specific mission such as sewers or transit.

Land-use planning should be turned over to the cities, or better yet, private landowners.

Local governments should focus on providing effective urban services, not on changing people's lifestyles.
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Transit tax grab: (Translink BC, next stop: your city)

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