Richmond mayor stands his ground over vote to hike property taxes to pay for TransLink

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie won't back property tax hikes to help fund TransLink's $1.4-billion "Moving Forward" plan.

Unions representing transit workers has earlier this week urged Metro Vancouver mayors to accept TransLink's proposed funding supplement plan - including a two-cents-a-litre boost in gas taxes - to pay for transit projects such as the 11-kilometre Evergreen Line.

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The mayors of the bigger cities, such as Vancouver, Surrey Richmond and Coquitlam which all have significant pull due to a weighted voting system had previously indicated they would not vote in favour of the gas, property tax hikes.

But many of the dissenters, including Vancouver, Surrey and Coquitlam, are now saying they will, in fact, support the funding plan.

"It's that there is a property-tax component which I cannot support," Brodie said.

Brodie also has concerns the B.C. government may not make good on its promise to stop using property-tax hikes to fund TransLink.

"What TransLink has always needed is long-term sustainable funding so that they don't have to lurch along and get a Band-Aid put over the problem every year or two," said Brodie.

He foresees another funding crisis.

"I warrant that TransLink will be back in two years, that they will not have found any significant permanent funding sources and there will be no significant changes in governance," he said.

The province has committed to replacing property tax as a form of TransLink funding, but only after the latest round of gas- and property-tax hikes.

Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean is also voting against the increased gas and property taxes.

MacLean remembers mayors agreeing in 2009 not to go after more property taxes for TransLink.

"Each of the mayors signed an agreement they would not support any additional property taxes over and above the annual three per cent [two per cent plus one per cent growth]," said MacLean.

"The province has had two years to work with the municipalities to legislate alternate sources to fund the supplement," he said.

"I do not have faith that the additional property taxes will disappear in two years in favour of some other funding source, especially in advance of a provincial election," he said.

Also speaking against the proposal will be Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan.

Corrigan calls the latest proposal "the ultimate hypocrisy."

"Quite clearly, it makes [the provincial government] confident with the idea these mayors will never stick to their guns, that they can be manipulated into a corner and that they will always come forward with money when they are put in that corner," Corrigan said.

There are still some undecided voters, such as North Vancouver City councillor Craig Keating, White Rock Mayor Catherine Ferguson and Langley Township mayor Rick Green.

Ferguson is aware of the urgent need for transportation improvements south of the Fraser River but wouldn't say how she'll vote Friday.

"It's going to be an interesting debate," she said. "There's a lot at stake."

If approved, the gas tax would require provincial legislative change - something that would presumably happen in the current fall session.

The gas tax increase would take affect in April 2012.

The following list shows municipalities, mayors, and whether they will vote in favour of a gas tax Friday.

(Bracketed number indicates a weighted vote based on one vote for every 20,000 population.)

Anmore (1) - Mayor Hal Weinberg - Unknown

Belcarra (1) - Mayor Ralph Drew - Yes

Bowen Island (1) - Coun. Peter Frinton - Unknown

Burnaby (11) - Mayor Derek Corrigan - No

Coquitlam (6) - Mayor Richard Stewart - Yes

Delta (5) - Mayor Lois Jackson - No

Langley City (2) - Mayor Peter Fassbender - Yes

Langley Township (5) - Mayor Rick Green - undecided

Lions Bay (1) - Mayor Brenda Broughton - Unknown

Maple Ridge (4) - Mayor Ernie Daykin - Yes

New Westminster (3) - Mayor Wayne Wright - Unknown

North Van. City (3) - Coun. Craig Keating - Undecided

North Van. District (5) - Mayor Richard Walton - Yes

Pitt Meadows (1) - Mayor Don MacLean - No

Port Coquitlam (3) - Mayor Greg Moore - Yes

Port Moody (2) - Mayor Joe Trasolini - Yes

Richmond (9) - Mayor Malcolm Brodie - No

Surrey (20) - Mayor Dianne Watts - Yes

Tsawwassen (1) - Chief Kim Baird - Unknown

Vancouver (29) - Mayor Gregor Robertson - Yes

West Vancouver (3) - Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones - Yes

White Rock (1) - Mayor Catherine Ferguson Undecided

With files from Alan Campbell

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