There are other alternatives to revenue generation than the traditional property taxes and hiking the gas tax dedicated for improving transit. We do not need to rely just on traditional means of revenue generation towards funding the requisite transit infrastructure to serve Greater Victoria over the next 25 years.
At present, as reported, B.C. Transit is seeking approval of a $106-million budget for Greater Victoria bus service rather than imposing a property tax hike of anywhere up to 10 per cent.
Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin would like to see a three-per-cent gas tax increase to allow Victoria to gather a reserve fund to pay for transit infrastructure.
Meantime, Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard calls such a tax increase extremely premature.
The problem is this debate epitomizes the approach of reliance on only traditional revenue sources.
We need to start thinking outside of the box. For instance, in the Lower Mainland there are suggestions to tolling the George Massey Tunnel and other crossings to pay for requisite transit infrastructure. That possibility could be made reality if Metro Vancouver and the province support the suggestions in a recent TransLink report examining potential revenue streams, including tolling major bridges and the tunnel.
The report, “Evaluation of Revenue Sources to Support Transportation Improvements in Metro Vancouver,” looked at a wide range of new funding options, including tolls on existing crossings over the Fraser River, that would include the Alex Fraser Bridge and George Massey Tunnel. A special committee comprising the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, TransLink, and the cities of Vancouver and Surrey, is also looking at such options.
We could apply this approach to the Greater Victoria area with tolls on two major bridge projects: the Blue Bridge replacement and the Craigflower Bridge. For both, this would encourage greater transit usage while creating a sustainable revenue source.