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Mayor Watts comes out swinging on the gas tax

July 19th, 2011 · 38 Comments

Someone’s ready for a fight to the death here, it sounds like. This just out from the mayor’s office.

Do We Want our Region to Become Los Angeles?

Let’s make one thing clear:  Metro Vancouver Mayors approved a two cent per litre gas tax increase and the money will not be used solely to pay for the Evergreen Line.

The $40 million generated annually will be used to fund a comprehensive, integrated, financially sustainable transportation network that will benefit virtually every single person living in Metro Vancouver, regardless of where they live and what mode of transportation they use.  The Evergreen Line is just one component of the plan.

The remaining funding for the plan will come from advertising, naming revenue at SkyTrain stations, road pricing and contributions from development.  A property tax increase hasn’t been approved and will only be considered if no other revenue options can be secured.

The regional plan includes:

  • $20 million annually for Major Road Network improvement projects
  • $6 million annually for cycling network infrastructure
  • 200,000 additional transit hours for the South Fraser Region – 425,000 hours region-wide
  • Hwy #1 RapidBus Service from Langley, through Surrey to the Lougheed SkyTrain station
  • A New B-Line service from White Rock to Guildford Town Centre, plus a new bus route from White Rock to Langley serving the Surrey community of Grandview Heights
  • SkyTrain station upgrades and Seabus improvements

The funding formula has been debated for over six years now, and it’s time to move forward.

Over the next two decades, almost a million people will be moving into Metro Vancouver.  This will add over 800,000 vehicles to our roads.  Do we want gridlock and smog?  Do we want our economy to be stuck in traffic?  Do we want our region to become Los Angeles?

In order to accommodate the population increase, we must implement an integrated transportation system and move forward with a long-term funding model that will serve our current needs and those of our children and grand children.

It’s been 17 years since Surrey has seen an expansion of rapid transit, despite the fact that our population has more than doubled.  Currently, our vast city is so underserved by transit that for most people it’s not a viable option.

We’re developing a plan to create light rail transit (LRT) to connect our town centres with the existing transit infrastructure and reduce the number of vehicles on our roads.  But, for the past ten years, the Evergreen Line has been designated as the next priority for the region.  So let’s be clear: Surrey and the other communities in the region can’t move forward with their transit projects until the Evergreen Line is built.

Let’s not turn this issue into a political football.  Let’s move forward as a region to create connected, productive and livable communities that our children can be proud of.


Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts

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