An open letter to Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon

Dear Mr. Falcon,

I  am still feeling rather confused this morning after watching your interview with CTV’s St. John Alexander on the 6 o’clock newscast last night.

In speaking with St.John about why tolls are absolutely necessary for the construction of the suddenly very expensive Port Mann Bridge construction, you told him it was because you didn’t want people in Fort St. John, or people in Chetwynd, or some people over on the island – who are never going to use that bridge – to have to pay for it.

Do you recall saying that? The link to that video is here at roughly the 5:25 min. mark : http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20080124/BC_Vid_Newscast_080124/20080205/?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

While  it sounds incredibly generous on the part of the government  to consider( for once), the taxpayers  in the rest of BC who are unlikely to be driving that bridge anytime soon, it behooves me to reflect on why you would not also deem this to be the appropriate manner of handling the ongoing taxpayer cost in paying for the Provinces financial commitment on the Sea to Sly  Sky Highway ? ( http://www.straight.com/article-93176/developers-are-the-games-real-winners )

What about those people in Fort. St. John, Mr.Falcon ? What about them?

Or the people you mentioned in Chetwynd and Vancouver island who are just as likely to NOT be using the Sea to Sky anytime soon? 

You may as well add in the people in Prince George, or Vanderhoof, and God forbid, those poor souls in Mackenzie where the the mill is closed for business- they aren’t likely to be going up to whistler to ski anytime soon with their lives in ruin. I’m sure they would appreciate not having to contribute their hard-earned tax dollars to that highway project either. They need every penny they have to start fresh somewhere else.

By your own rationale for tolling the Port Mann, it seems highly unjust that the remainder of the province should have to pay for the Sea to Sky improvements either. Simple as that.

Maybe it’s just me, but try as I might, I  just cannot see the sense in this statement.  How do you pick and choose what projects we all pay for through taxes and others pay for through tolls? Rock, paper, Scissors? 

By using this same rationale, I’m extremely surprised that the Sea to Sky was not selected for tolls –  it would seem to be a cash cow for the province that you could realistically milk for years, what with the ongoing resort and residential development in that corridor. This was a very expensive  project – some say much more expensive than it could have been :  http://www.strategicthoughts.com/record2005/seatosky.html  

What tourist doesn’t want to drive out that way, winter or summer? And let’s be frank here – if you can afford to go skiing in Whistler,( parking, lift pass, meals, etc)  you can afford a $3 toll each way… why over look the opportunity to have revenue come in from a source that doesn’t include provincial taxpayers? I just can’t understand this.

My understanding from reading past information about the Sea to Sky highway project is that the commitment for paying the provinces portion is based over 25 years. http://www.partnershipsbc.ca/pdf/SeatoSkyFinal.pdf  Please correct me if this is incorrect, after all, I am by no means a transportation minister.

Can you imagine the revenue from tolls on that stretch of highway?  Imagine that.  At least then,  (much like the Port Mann project) it would be the residents , employees and tourists who live/work/play in  the Squamish-Whistler area who bear the brunt of the improvement costs, rather than people like me who never go there – or the rest of the people in BC who can’t afford that trip either. When those considerations are taken into account, it would almost seem negligent on the governments part to NOT have a toll on the highway. Unless, of course , there are considerations the public does not know about that would affect such a decision. ( http://www.straight.com/article-93176/developers-are-the-games-real-winners )

Makes perfect sense to me, but then again, I’m just an average woman who is still having issues with why these P3 options are always more expensive than the public sector counterpart – you know the old “cost for value line”  and ” risk adjustments”?   Can’t understand the math you used on CTV last night, no matter how hard I try. Can’t understand why your ministry keeps trying to make us believe that P3’s are the best option for us. We all pay in the end, no matter who shares in the project financing.

Anyways, I digress.

I would appreciate any assistance and explanation you can offer me, because with 4 kids to put through college, I also need every penny I can save.  You would seem to be the right person to talk to in this regards – after all, aren’t you the minister who was responsible for the 990 year contract in the sale of BC Rail?

Oops, sorry. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned that…

Best regards,

Laila Yuile

 Ps. I really like this picture of you and Gordon. Can you  both autograph one and send it to me for posterity? One for the memory book…

http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/photo_gallery/pages/2009/090204.htm

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Just for fun, let’s throw a couple polls in here, to see how you feel about tolls on the Port Mann and the Sea to Sky Highway

 

9 thoughts on “An open letter to Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon

  1. Thank you for this, Laila. I would like an answer for this myself.

    Although I read your site everyday, as do my co-workers, this is the first time I’ve felt the need to comment. Your posts usually inspire debate over the lunch hour in our office!

    I live in Langley, and own a modest home. I work right on the other side of the Port Mann, so realistically it is my only option for travel to work.

    I’m a single mother, no support as my ex decided he would rather be a bum and quit his job rather than pay child support. I pay for one full time daycare position as well as before and after school care for my other child.
    After paying for all of this alone, even my better than average salary barely covers it. There are no vacations or holidays, and we live modestly within my means. Read that to mean there are very few, if any extras.

    I make too much to get a daycare subsidy, and my child tax benefit is small. I depend on my job and work hard, pay my taxes etc.
    I already pay property taxes, the tax on gas, income tax, BC tax, GST , PST etc.

    Ao why, after so much of what I make already goes to the government, so I have to pay more ? Isn’t this where my money is supposed to go?

    The long story short is that I can’t afford to pay this toll back and forth every day, on top of gas and insurance etc. I dont even know where that money will come from. Less for myself and the kids I guess.

    I have it better than a lot of people,I’m sure, and If I’m wondering how to manage the extra expense, it might sink other families.

    Does the premier and Falcon recognize this? Why is it that we are getting penalized when the people in Squamish get off scott free for living so far away?

    I’ve had enough. Toll them all, or toll none, but dont pick and choose under the guise of mock concern for the other BC tax payers.

    Thanks Laila. Good letter, but I dont see you getting an answer on this one.

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  2. Way to go, Laila!

    I laughed my ass off last night watching that same clip. The nerve of him to even try and seem concerned about British Columbians.

    But you know, Laila, it\’s all about those jobs for everyone who is currently unemployed. Geesh, he acts like there are suddenly going to be 8,000 newjobs tomorrow or something.

    For once, I would like to hear Gordon and Kevin say

    \” \” We want to show British Columbians our commitment to cost cutting, so we are handing over our cars, our provincial expense credit cards, and stopping all travel via first class jets and going economy with all the regular joes. And on top of that, I\’m getting a bus pass for travel on the island and one for Vancouver area. We want to experience what you are experiencing\”

    How about some lay-offs Gord? Try living on EI for a while, you Point Grey Goose.

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    1. Hehe. I don’t mind Darren – at the very least I know I’m making an impact, and hopefully, beneficial changes.

      That being said,I really would like that autographed photo….and a response from the Minister himself.

      However, all is quiet this morning on the western front.

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  3. hello, Laila and everybody

    We also feel the toll and doubled budget make no sense and unacceptable. The toll is unfair to taxpayers in fraser valley , and the double budgets waste huge money of all taxpayers through BC. So we decide to gather people together to stop them before it’ s too late. We sincerely invite you and your friends to join us.

    Please email us at: freecrossing@hotmail.com

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    1. I’m so happy to hear the people have been roused to action!!! And when you consider the money that is being tossed about currently for all these Olympic projects, it makes no sense. And now…. we hear the still under-estimated security costs. Don’t even get me started on that one!

      I would encourage you to start a facebook or blog page as a resource for people to organize, if you have not already done so. I will do what I can to assist you, and the time is now to strike, BEFORE the election occurs…. I’ll get in touch with you personally for more details to post here!
      Thanks for stopping by John!

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  4. Living on a gulf island I pay a toll every time I come back from a visit to somewhere else, (they let me leave for free). The government says it is a cost for living in paradise, and while it is nice, I wouldn’t exactly call it paradise.

    I pay all of my taxes that cover road costs in the rest of the province and feel that the ferry route should be classified as part of the highway system. It isn’t!!

    Tolls for the Sea to Sky are a good idea, but not for the Port Mann, although I will probably never use either of them.

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    1. Sorry NVG, I don’t. It seems that Falcon wants to distance himself from the man he looked to as a role model for so long..hehe… no wonder!!

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