There’s no question maintaining a community is expensive.
Politicians were recently informed that Vernon’s infrastructure deficit is $78 million, with $40 million of that directly related to roads.
As a result, the city is seeking revenue sources beyond just property taxes. But the latest move to have the provincial fuel tax hiked to fund pedestrian-friendly travel (sidewalks and bike paths) is rather dubious.
First off, we have all seen where gas prices have gone, so the prospect of another hike, even if it is only one-tenth of a cent, will have motorists rolling their eyes and shaking their fists. One also has to wonder if Vernon politicians are aware of the challenging economy and the financial pressures facing their constituents?
And will the money collected actually go to infrastructure or be diverted? As an example, the provincial carbon tax has had little impact on the environment.
Secondly, while there may be some hope that higher fuel prices will force people to switch from cars to walking or cycling, there won’t be a mass change in societal habits. People will still drive and the city will still bear the financial cost of maintaining the road network. It is unavoidable.
And finally, while no one likes to see property taxes climb, there is an element of fairness to them. Everyone has to pay them. That is not the case with a fuel levy, which only targets motorists, and not cyclists or pedestrians.
Obviously, Vernon city hall deserves credit for pursuing funding options, but this is one concept that needs to take the off ramp for reconsideration.