Choice of Capital Region transit levies awaits transit governance ruling

Greater Victoria leaders say big-ticket transit projects, like LRT, need regional voice

The region’s leaders are not yet ready to pick and choose from a new list of money pots that could finance a proposed $950-million light-rail rapid transit system, and other transit projects in Greater Victoria.

Instead, the Capital Regional District transportation select committee will wait for an independent review of B.C. Transit to wrap up in August.

That may lead the province to give the CRD control of Greater Victoria’s transit system, a regional voice that many leaders say is needed to manage such a big-ticket project as the LRT.

Last week committee members reviewed a draft report that outlines 17 possible funding sources that could pay for the local share of transit projects, such as LRT.

Fees on non-residential parking spaces, vehicles registered in the region and levies collected from the workers of larger employers were identified as the big money-makers.

At a June 27 committee meeting, chair and Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said there appeared to be little appetite around the table to discuss specific ways to pay for an LRT project that is years away from happening.

“People want to talk about the project, but no one wants to talk about funding it with taxes,” he said.

Among the committee members who spoke directly on the merits of the proposed options, Victoria Coun. Marianne Alto said most people who pay for vehicle registration wouldn’t balk at paying an additional $5.

“As a car driver, I think the vehicle levy is a great idea. It’s simple and it’s easy, it’s not very expensive and it generates $1 million a year,” she said.

Others voiced the need to start saving money for future transit projects now.

Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, the committee’s vice-chair, again championed the benefits of pumping a new local gas tax directly into a fund that would pay for the local share of rapid transit.

“It might be 10 years, it might be 15 years, but when you know that our local share will be in the $250-million mark of a $750-million project (for a partial build-out of LRT), then wouldn’t it be nice to know that we actually have one-third or half of that already in there?” he asked.

“Over the next 20 years we’re going to spend $250 million doing business as usual (to maintain transit services) anyways.”

Following the meeting, Leonard disagreed, preferring that people in the future pay for the local share of the transit project if and when it becomes reality.

“I don’t think we should tax people now for a project in the future,” he said.

It is “reasonable” to take out a loan to help pay for a large-scale capital project, and have the taxpayers of the day pay for the project over a 10- to 15-year period, he said.

“I don’t think we should increase taxes right now to build up a piggy bank.”

Next steps include finalizing the funding-options report, then posting it on the CRD website for public input, likely in August or September. Committee members also plan to meet with their Metro Vancouver colleagues to learn about transit financing options that worked there.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Ticket to ride

• The Capital Region’s public transit system costs about $100 million a year, and is covered by $34.8 million in fares, $34.4 million from the province and $29.9 million in local property and fuel taxes.

• Future transit improvements are projected to cost an extra $1 billion over 20 years. Divided equally between the region and provincial and federal governments, Greater Victoria would need to generate an extra $15 million per year – a 50-per-cent hike over current costs.

• View the draft technical report at http://crd.bc.ca/regionalplanning/transportation/index.htm under Current Initiatives.

Just Posted

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is calling on Transport Canada to rescind its ban to Feb. 28, 2022 on cruise ship stops in Canada, to allow planning to begin in advance of a reopening of the cruise industry next year.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority seeks end to federal ban on cruise ship stops in Canada

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO hopes cruises will resume by 2022

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read