Transportation Minister Todd Stone says the toll reform debate isn't urgent because the opening of the next new toll bridge will be several years away.

No rush on bridge toll reform debate: Stone

Minister, premier dodge calls to clarify how Metro Vancouver tolling will be made fair

Transportation Minister Todd Stone is being accused of dragging his feet on launching a long-promised review of how tolls are charged on Metro Vancouver bridges.

Stone stuck to his position that a reform of the tolling policy – opening up a potential shift to road pricing or standardized tolls on all Metro bridges – would only be required if final decisions are made to replace and toll both the new Pattullo and Massey bridges.

And even then, he said under questioning in the legislature, neither bridge would open for at least five to six years, leaving “plenty of time” to have a debate about what should happen.

Premier Christy Clark echoed that, saying it’s not yet clear how much federal money might come for those bridge replacements, an essential part of the equation on any tolling decisions.

“It’s difficult to think about what toll rates are going to be and then think about a balance across the region,” Clark said.

She called mobility pricing a “controversial issue” that she isn’t yet in a position to take a side on.

Independent Delta MLA Vicki Huntington said the province’s wait-and-see attitude is unacceptable.

“There’s an urgent need now to resolve this question,” Huntington said. “Everybody but the minister seems to understand this.”

Residents South of the Fraser are paying $1,000 to $2,000 a year in tolls if they have to cross the tolled Port Mann Bridge, she said, adding that amount could be reduced if tolls are spread out across all crossings.

Drivers who cross elsewhere would suddenly have to contribute, but Huntington said they may benefit as well, if, for example, consistent tolls relieve the congestion at free crossings like the Pattullo.

“If you distribute the tolling system equally on the different bridges then you’re not going to have all the trucks and all the congestion at the free bridge,” she said. “You open up the choice of routes so traffic is distributed more freely.

“To wait five or six years to even start the discussion is ridiculous. The issue is in front of us and it has to be resolved as soon as possible.”

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson this week repeated her support for an equitable system of tolls on all bridges, suggesting $1 a bridge.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman said he’s not sure Jackson’s numbers add up in terms of the revenue that would be required.

If tolls have to cover not just the repayment of the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges – which are not yet meeting their revenue targets – but also two new bridges yet to be built and possibly $250 million a year for transit expansion, then Bateman suggested the toll per crossing would likely have to be more like $2 to $2.50 each way.

He said political calculations are likely behind the premier’s decision to delay the toll reform debate.

“Why tick off the rest of the region with road pricing or bridge tolls before they have to?” Bateman asked. “There would be nothing she would love more than to have the NDP put road pricing into their election platform next year. I’m sure the Liberals would love to run against that.”

Just Posted

Accident shuts down Highway 10 at 152 Street in Surrey

Road remains closed, assessment in progress: DriveBC

Replica totem pole to be raised at Peace Arch Park

‘Reconciliation ceremony’ will include SFN leaders, provincial politicians

ELECTION QUESTIONS: Does Surrey need its own police force?

Who’s on the right side of Surrey RCMP’s contract issue debate? That’s for voters to decide on Oct. 20

WEB POLL: Is Surrey a safer city since the last election?

Crime and public safety continue to be hot button election issues

Delta resident raises more than $100K for Easter Seals

Archie Campbell has rappelled down the side of a building six times to raise money for disabled kids

VIDEO: Tour de Valley riders visit Surrey elementary school

Students create signs to support riders

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

VIDEO: Woman files complaint over treatment of cat with two broken legs

Ariel Johnston of Abbotsford says her pet was sent home without pain medication

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

Most Read