Editor: The Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce is currently the only chamber in Metro Vancouver to oppose a small 0.5 per cent sales tax increase to deliver $7.5 billion in critical transit and transportation investment in our region, including Langley.
One of the reasons cited by the Langley chamber for opposing this investment package is that they would prefer “mobility pricing” instead of a sales tax to fund it. Mobility pricing in Metro Vancouver means charging direct user fees to use major roads and bridges.
Road pricing is a great way to manage demand and pay for roads, but is a poor way to fund transit. Just like gas tax, as more people take transit, less money is available for transit improvement. Gas tax revenue is already declining, impacting the ability to improve roads and transit today.
The 0.5 per cent regional sales tax is the most equitable and affordable way to pay for transit. The proposed regional sales tax would be paid by residents, businesses, and visitors in Metro Vancouver; everyone that benefits from transportation infrastructure. It is affordable; as it will only be applied to items which are PST taxable, an increase of $10 per month for the average household and $5 per month for low-income households.
If Metro Vancouver moved ahead with using road pricing as proposed by the Langley chamber, it would actually hurt people in Langley the most.
More people use cars to get around in Langley than anywhere else in Metro Vancouver — 90 per cent of all trips are by auto. Only 53 per cent of all trips are by auto in Vancouver.
While a sales tax would apply to the same basket of goods, whether you live in Vancouver or Langley, road pricing would be paid for disproportionately by people who live in the South of Fraser. Perhaps the Langley chamber needs to rethink their opposition.
Improving transit and transportation in Langley will unlock new economic opportunity, and will actually save families money due to enhanced public transit service, and the need to drive less.