REPRINT: ” The Sea to Sky Highway is costing us over $600 million- so why do they get to drive for free? “

Posted the following on Friday, but I think we need some answers, so here it is again.  In a related note, last week I blogged about privacy issues with the Golden Ears bridge crossing, and it seems they’ve started their PR campaign. This weekends issue of the Surrey leader held a full page ad giving the dates and locations of  Information Booths for the public to find out more.

 These are the dates:  October 2-4 : Tradex in Abbostsford

                                  October 9-12: Superstore in Pitt Meadows

                                  October 16-19: Willowbrook Mall in Langley

                                  October 23-26: Guildford Town Centre, Surrey

 I urge everyone in the area to attend at least one and ask how the transponder is kept secure from others who might be able to access the information it contains with independant devices, and why the Sea to Sky remains toll free.

REPRINT:

As a taxpayer in the province of BC, I have a question for the transportation minister, Kevin Falcon, and our Premier Gordon Campbell.

The Golden Ears Bridge project costs $800 million  and will be a toll bridge to cover costs.

The Port Mann Twinning project will cost  $1. 5 billion, and again, will be a toll bridge to cover costs.

The new Patullo Bridge project – cost unknown but guaranteed mega$$$$$– already is planned to be another toll bridge.

THE SEA TO SKY HIGHWAY PROJECT – $ 600 miliion dollars – or more – NO TOLLS.

 Those toll booths on the Patullo, Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges will be faced directly by residents of Surrey and Langely – and it hardly seems fair. Both the Sea-to-Sky highway and the new Kelowna bridge, as well as the Pitt River Bridge (part of the province’s Gateway program), are all TOLL FREE.

My question to Premier Gordon Campbell ? Why is that very expensive Sea to Sky highway toll free ? Why are some of us getting dinged up to three times, and yet all the the millions of people who drive up to Whistler all summer, and every winter get to do so for free? 

A letter to the editor in the Surrey Leader recently highlighted the disparity between the projects. I include it here in its entirety because the writer, Derek Zeisman did such an excellent job.

“Road tolls a double standard

Your editorial praising road tolls (Tolls Won’t Hurt Us, Oct. 8) misses the point.

The Coquihalla Highway was opened as a toll route in 1987 because it represented a major expenditure of public funds, some $840 million. Obviously the same logic holds for the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge ($1.5 billion) and the construction of the new Golden Ears Bridge ($800 million). Thus the province’s rationale for imposing new tolls on these routes.

Of course, the province also has another major road construction project currently underway, the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Estimated cost: $600 million. Planned toll: zero.

Regardless of the perceived “need” to upgrade the Sea-to-Sky route prior to the 2010 Olympics, there is a serious double standard on display here. The overtaxed, mostly working- and middle-class residents of Surrey and the Fraser Valley (combined population: one million plus) will soon be forced to pay 35 years worth of tolls on such vital transportation routes as the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.

Meanwhile, the wealthier residents along the Sea-to-Sky, in communities from West Vancouver to Whistler (combined population: well under 100,000) are excused from paying any tolls on their own project, despite a cost not far off that of the original Coquihalla project. Why?

This is political hypocrisy of the worst sort, and Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberals are to blame. If they (like the Surrey Leader) see such merit in imposing road tolls to fund major transportation projects, then fine, impose the tolls – but do it in a fair, transparent and above all, consistent manner. That means tolls for all, or tolls for none – not some silly patchwork system that places the burden for our public infrastructure on Average Joe Taxpayer, while providing a “get out of jail free” card for the well-off jet-setters in Whistler and the British Properties.

Some will undoubtedly argue that Sea-to-Sky tolls would have a negative impact upon our plans to attract Olympic tourists. I call that a captive audience – a perfect fundraising scenario for any toll route. However, if deemed necessary, such a toll could always be delayed until after 2010.

Others will argue the Sea-to-Sky should not be tolled because no alternate route exists between Greater Vancouver and Whistler. But this argument holds little weight, when you consider that the Pattullo Bridge – a semi-viable alternative to the Port Mann for some travellers – will soon be tolled as well, leaving the people of Surrey and the Fraser Valley at the mercy of those who wish to pick our pockets.

Your editorial claims that “tolls won’t hurt us.” Perhaps not – but a $2.50 toll to cross the Port Mann, while the well-to-do types scooting up to Whistler pay nothing, certainly does sting.

Derek Zeisman

Surrey”

I think the majority of residents would support a toll on the Sea to Sky, so heres a chance to have your say.

2 Comments on “REPRINT: ” The Sea to Sky Highway is costing us over $600 million- so why do they get to drive for free? “

  1. Just finished listening to more lies come out of Gordo’s lips about how he was going to take care of us in these uncertain times. He mentions in his 10 point plan for BC, all the money that would be spent on tax breaks for small business and people making up to $111,000 per year (20 million here, 40 million there). But what he failed to say was how much the tax credits to big business are going to cost. Sound familiar?
    I bet it dwarves the combined tax breaks to all other people combined.
    So sneaky, but we not that stupid, Gordo, King Of The World.
    Oh yeah, how about that Pension Plan he thought up. For people who have whatever meager savings, he will set up a bureaucracy so he and his cronies can control your pension.
    For someone who created the homeless problem and then created a bureaucracy to deal with it, I cannot believe he has the gall to say he will invest your money with good intentions.
    How about rolling back your huge pay raise for you and your buds, Gordo?

  2. Bravo, Ron, Bravo!!

    Yes, I saw the whole sordid thing firsthand .

    As I like to say, ” I’m Laila Yuile, and this is how I see it. ”

    Gordo sat down with his Deputy minister and his other departmental buddies, and asked them to compile a list of all the people and groups they seem to pissed off in the last year.

    That would include, Vancouver Island residents and those of the Sunshine coast, Cambie street businesses, the regular working jJ/Jill who are struggling to make ends meet and know they are going to be in the poor house when they are old, and everyone living in the interior working in the forestry sector.

    So, we get a break over the holidays on the already over priced and underserviced BC ferries system, the businesses that are already seeing layoffs might last a little bit longer, and he’ll take the property taxes from schools and send it up to the interior so those mills that are still open- and there arent many – can feel as though they’ve been coddled a little.

    The only problem is that he DIDN’T address the huge raises he just gave his ministers, he DIDN’T address all the money being thrown away towards Olympic projects, he DIDN’T talk about how hes going to handle the ever increasing number of homeless, and he didnt mention anything like tolling the Sea to Sky where all the well-heeled liek to go sking and access holiday homes.

    No, let me tell you, as a Prince George gal by birth, the people up north and in the interior will be howling at this plan…… and he will not be gaining any huge accolades for what amounts to a very small personal tax cut.

    Once again, Gordon Campbells actions tell you exactly where his priorities lie…..

    And lies they are.