Last week Saanich council unanimously voted in support of a fuel tax raise of two cents per litre, from 3.5 to 5.5 cents, as requested by the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.
The added income will support transit system development in the region. About $125 million in capital expenditures are needed to upgrade transit exchanges, the fleet and operating centres for Greater Victoria over the next five years, said a letter submitted by the transit commission to Saanich and all other local municipalities, as well as the Capital Region District.
The tax increase was also approved in Victoria and Esquimalt and is weaving its way through each municipality, said Saanich Coun. Susan Brice, who chairs the Regional Transit Commission.
“Saanich voted unanimously, so far it shows a pretty broad support for interest in better transit.”
The CRD also approved it, which should be enough to pass the increase, however, the minister of finance wanted to see more evidence of community support, Brice said.
“If we’re going to improve and expand service we need an increase,” added Brice.
The transit commission has “three levers” in the provincial legislation to raise taxes, from property taxes, the fare box and a gas tax. This year it elected not to raise property taxes though it did raise some fares by removing the one-hour bus transfer and introducing a $5 day pass.
The current fuel tax generates $11.7 million annually and the additional two cents per litre is estimated to bring in an additional $6.8 million.