EDITORIAL – Horgan would ding the Interior to remove bridge tolls at Coast

Golden Ears Bridge.

An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

I CAN REMEMBER the last time I drove across the Golden Ears Bridge. It was a couple of years ago. It was actually the first and only time.

Paying the toll was relatively painless. We received a notice in the mail a few days later, for four bucks, I think it was. In the old days, you used to have to line up at bridge toll booths and pay your money on the spot. The cars were lined up for miles and it took forever.

When I heard NDP leader John Horgan’s plan to eliminate tolls on the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges, my first thought was, “Right on!”

Then I got to thinking, “What’s so ‘right on’ about that. I never use the Golden Ears Bridge. It isn’t going to save me a dime, and I use the Port Mann maybe two or three times a year so, all in all, we’re talking about pocket change. Big deal.”

Then I thought, “No, it’s actually not going to save me anything at all, in fact will cost me money, because the revenue that comes from those two bridges will have to come from somewhere else. This isn’t magic.”

So when Christy Clark says Horgan has just promised to kill off a $150 million revenue stream, and he’d either have to cut services somewhere else, or raise taxes, she’s right. She promises to cap the tolls, not eliminate them.

But, says Horgan, those two bridges are provincial bridges and all British Columbians should have to pay for them. No, they shouldn’t. An argument can be made for spreading the cost of the Port Mann around, but nobody in Kamloops or Kelowna or Prince George ever uses the Golden Ears. It’s there to connect Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge to Langley and Surrey.

If you believe in user pay, Horgan’s rationale doesn’t fly. It sounds an awful lot as though he’s playing to the Lower Mainland, where the NDP’s strength is, and giving up on the Interior or at least hoping we won’t notice.

And if you’re thinking, “Well, the Liberals took the tolls off the Coquihalla, didn’t they?” you are right, but it was years after that highway was already paid for, whereas the new Port Mann won’t be paid off until at least 2050, and the Golden Ears not until 2041.

And then there’s the $3.5 billion plan for a replacement for the George Massey tunnel connecting Vancouver and points south. Tolls for the users, or more taxes for all of us?

Thanks a lot, John Horgan.

About Mel Rothenburger (5858 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on EDITORIAL – Horgan would ding the Interior to remove bridge tolls at Coast

  1. It’s important to consider who ‘paid off’ the Coquihalla through tolls. Hint: it wasn’t the Vancouver people commuting over the Golden Ears bridge.

    It was us, up here in the Interior.

    Perhaps the tolls should remain on the bridges until they’re paid off too. Apparently that was perfectly acceptable for us in the hinterlands…

  2. As someone said somewhere, NDP bad government, Liberal good government. Easy for a party seeking election to say what they will do when they get into power. And what have they done when they have attained the throne of power in BC. Admittedly, the Liberal Party/Social Credit Party did not and have not kept all their promises, but what kind of government did the NDP give us when they led our fair province. Seems like a lot of companies and workers left the province seeking work in greener pastures and was not the province deep in debt when the NDP were ousted from power. Now I notice from the results of a recent poll (not knowing how many voters did the poll) that 56 % want a change in government, because the BC Liberals have sat in the throne of power for too long a period. So we throw one player out of the sand box in order to allow another player to build castles made out of sand and not rock. Hmm. But again out of respect for all parties, may the chips fall, where they may.

  3. I think public infrastructure should be publicly funded,without user fees. People who disagree with this ought to be rallying to get the toll put back on the Coquihalla and get inland and coastal ferries rates raised to reflect the actual cost of providing the service. User taxes disproportionately affect those who are already economically disadvantaged. I say tax the rich more heavily, and let them and everyone else enjoy the benefits of living in a caring, safe and inclusive society.

  4. they should have never taken them off the coq

  5. Tolls for users are the right thing to do everywhere in the province, or at least in all the traffic-intense areas of the province, including Kamloops. Road infrastructure construction, maintenance and usage are uber-expensive and contribute immensely to all forms of environmental ills.
    The right thing to do is to disincentivise driving and tolls are truly a beautiful thing. John Horgan will not get my vote.

    • I’m afraid that you are getting off track again Pierre. We already pay a carbon tax, and a gas tax. Why should we pay even more taxes ?

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