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Brodie supports concept of road pricing

Translink opts for temporary property tax to help support Evergreen Line

Bridge tolls on the Oak Street and Arthur Laing bridges, property tax hikes, and more expensive vehicle levies for Richmond drivers are not palatable funding solutions for Translink's budget crunch, according to Mayor Malcolm Brodie.

Instead, Brodie believes the region should be looking at the concept of road pricing, which charges drivers based on how much and where they drive.

Brodie also said he favours the gas tax but was one of the minor-ity dissenting mayors who voted against the Metro Vancouver mayor's transit plan as a whole because he vehemently opposes an increase to property taxes.

"I did not support the Translink funding proposals because I don't support higher property taxes," he said of the proposed $23 average increase to property owners.

On Thursday, however, Translink determined to do exactly that, impose a temporary property tax amounting to an extra $23 and $47 per average homeowner in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

The temporary tax is supposed to be eliminated for a long-term fix, such as a vehicle levy, which would specifically target Metro Vancouver drivers.

This week other mayors floated ideas about how to raise more money for Translink that could penalize Richmond drivers more than others in the region.

Surrey Mayor Diane Watts told BC Local News she backs a gradu-ated vehicle levy, meaning those who live in well-developed areas like Vancouver and Richmond would pay more than those who aren't serviced by Translink as frequently. Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender also suggested tolling existing bridges.

Brodie said one of the reasons he voted against the plan which passed July 6 was because he had not seen details regarding the vehicle levy.

Brodie said while Richmond is served by the Canada Line, the city does not have superior bus service throughout the city.

"I would be resistant to the idea that Richmond residents would have to pay a higher levy," he said.

The Moving Forward plan, devised to find a solution to Translink's budget crunch, includes a two cent per litre gas tax increase as well as a secondary to-be-determined funding option: a temporary property tax increase or a vehicle levy.

The decision affects the Richmond residents who, according to ICBC, have 115,000 vehicles on the road.

And instead of bridge tolls a far better solution would be road pricing.

"Just like in London where you have a transponder on the car and it notes you've gone by that place and it takes a certain amount of money," Brodie said.

He did note, however, that the idea is "far too preliminary" for Metro Vancouver's current population and it should only be an option if bridge tolls become a serious option.

The Moving Forward plan will raise $70 million in additional annual funding for several new services. The largest project it will support is the Evergreen Line in Coquitlam.

The plan will go to public consultation and a final version is expected to be voted on by the mayors this fall.