The Golden Ears Bridge. Langley Times file photo.

MLAs in Langley caution bridge toll removal could impact B.C.’s credit rating

Losing triple-A credit rating would lead to higher borrowing costs for province warn Coleman, Polak

The NDP’s announcement to remove tolls on both the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges has Liberal MLAs Rich Coleman and Mary Polak concerned the province’s triple-A credit rating could be at risk.

Coleman, the MLA for Langley East, said while he understands the NDP are making good on a campaign promise, he still prefers the Liberals’ approach to capping tolls at $500 per year for drivers, before eliminating the tolls completely.

“The challenge is that money now has to come from somewhere else in order to do it. And that’s why we were a bit more cautious on the $500 maximum,” he told the Times. “… It will be interesting now to see if it does fiscally work and we’ll just have to wait and see.”

On Friday morning, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced that his NDP government will eliminate bridge tolls effective Sept. 1. He called the tolls “unfair” and said removing them will make life more affordable for many people in the Lower Mainland.

Currently, the toll to cross the Port Mann is $3.15 for cars, pickup trucks and SUVs, $6.30 for medium-sized vehicles and $9.45 for commercial vehicles.

The toll to cross the Golden Ears is $3.20 to $4.45 for cars, pickup trucks and SUVs, $6.35 to $7.55 for medium-sized vehicles and $9.45 to $10.70 for commercial vehicles.

“We’re taking immediate action to make life more affordable and get people moving by scrapping unfair tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges,” Premier Horgan said.

“You shouldn’t have to pay tolls based on where you live.”

However, Coleman cautions that if this decision takes the debt-to-GDP above 17 per cent, it could affect the province’s credit rating, meaning the government will be charged higher interest rates when borrowing money for projects like new schools, bridges or hospitals.

“We’re the only jurisdiction right now in the country that has a triple-A credit rating, and that was always important to us,” Coleman said. “Because we know that it’s saved us a couple billion dollars a year in borrowing costs. And that money could be reinvested in things like health care, education and other social programs. So it’s something to really watch for. Both … balancing the budget and a triple-A credit rating because your debt-to-GDP are really critical to the long-term future of the province.”

Polak, the MLA for Langley, shared the same warning.

“Affordability is something we all heard loud and clear during the election. But the NDP in this announcement appear to be showing that they’re willing to address that without thinking long-term what it means financially for the province,” Polak told the Times.

“In that regard, it’s no different than previous NDP governments, it seems. They haven’t yet outlined how on earth they’re going to afford this. And you’re taking about, probably in the neighbourhood of $130-135 million a year in lost revenue — that’s just for the Port Mann.”

Polak said when the Port Mann bridge project was launched, a “significant aspect” of it was the agreement around tolling, which allowed for projections to be made for when the debt would be payed down.

“Governments can do an awful lot to give people release from costs. But when they do it, they have to do it in a way that doesn’t break the bank. And there’s nothing here to say that that’s not the case,” she said.

“You might make daily life more affordable in terms of travelling over the bridge, but somebody’s got to pay for it, and it will come out of your taxes somehow. And it could affect more broadly government programs, it could affect our ability to borrow and what our interest rates are charged.”

— with files from Mike Hall, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Rich Coleman. Submitted photo.

Mary Polak. Submitted photo.

Just Posted

Left, Rowena Leivo early on in her volunteer career with the South Surrey/White Rock Food Bank. Right, Leivo in the food bank Tuesday. (Contributed photos)
After 34 years, ‘The Boss’ retires from South Surrey Food Bank volunteer gig

Rowena Leivo, 90, spent a third of her life volunteering at the food bank

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
UPDATE: Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Diamond School in Surrey reporting COVID-19 exposure

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Matthew Campbell, director of the Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank, stands amongst a large amount of non-perishable food and household items being stored inside the Pacific Community Church. This year’s ‘Halloween For Hunger’ food drive, put on by students at Clayton Heights, will go to benefit the Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Clayton Heights Secondary kicks off annual ‘Halloween for Hunger’ event

Students to collect much-needed items for food bank

Ali Watson in Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of “No Child…,” which plays until Nov. 8. (photo: Moonrider Productions)
Viewers of Arts Club’s streaming plays support Surrey Civic Theatres

Company’s ‘bubble method’ of theatre production means just 50 in-person tickets for each performance

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

In this file photo, snow is seen falling along the Coquihalla Highway. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Weather statement issued for Coquihalla, Hwy 3, as arctic front approaches

The early season snowfall expected to hit Fraser Valley, Friday, Oct. 23

Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

The website Chigoby is among eight scam online retailers that have been identified by the Better Business Bureau. The site was fraudulently using an Abbotsford residential address, but has since switched to one in Poland.
8 scam online-shopping websites fraudulently use Abbotsford address

Better Business Bureau says victims lost hundreds for non-existent or poor-quality products

Most Read