Drivers in Scotland succeeded in getting bridge tolls banned seven years ago â€” and now a local man wants to do the same here.
â€œScottish drivers had the strength to do something,â€ said Gary Hee, 70, of Surrey on Friday. â€œHere, Canadians are very complacent. They donâ€™t realize that to get anything done you have to band together.â€
Like the Scottish campaign, Hee is basing his appeal on basic fairness: how can the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges be tolled $3 per trip and everything else be free?
â€œItâ€™s like the Berlin Wall. One community is penalized,â€ he said. â€œI can drive to Washington state for free but I have to pay to get to Maple Ridge. Highways shouldnâ€™t be tolled.â€
Hee suggests instituting a $40 universal licence plate fee to be charged to every driver in the province annually until the debts, totalling roughly $4 billion, are paid off.
Hee, who is in the computer distribution business, makes a second argument based on economics.
â€œTolls arenâ€™t good for the business environment because it needs to be a free-trade zone. I know businesses which have to add the costs of tolls into their pricing. Itâ€™s inflationary,â€ he said.
His online petition at www.nobridgetollsinbc.com has collected 680 signatures over the past year.
He figures he needs 2,500 signatures before going to the government; he plans to get them by getting together a â€œhuman brigadeâ€ and putting up tents in the warm weather to collect names.
He would give the petition to MLA Douglas Bing (Lib.-Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows), who is his cousin.
Meanwhile, the company that operates the Port Mann Bridge, the Transportation Investment Corp., is considering awarding loyalty bonuses for repeat users of the bridge, where numbers of daily vehicles are about 15,000 below expectations.
A decision will be made in the spring.
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