Why vote NO to a 0.5% sales tax incre...
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Why vote NO to a 0.5% sales tax increase (congestion tax)
Clubs, Politics, Vancouver

Something fishy is going on in the Lower Mainland. For the first time, politicians from all stripes including the B.C. Liberal Government, the NDP, the labor unions, boards of trade (chambers of commerce), environmentalists (David Suzuki Foundation), and the city councils are united, using scare tactics, to “convince” us to approve the increase of the provincial sales tax (PST) by 0.5% in order to fund the Regional Transportation Plan. Do not fall in their trap because approving it would pronounce the end of funding public services, as we knew it.
The Regional Transportation Plan for the Lower Mainland should be funded from existing municipal, provincial, and federal tax revenues. If raising taxes is necessary, developers should pay for the new transportation infrastructure demand because they created it. They built high rises and sold them to foreign investors at inflated prices, making billions of dollars in profits. The excessive increase in real estate prices raised cost of living in the Lower Mainland, made it unaffordable for average Canadian to own a home, lowered availability of rental properties to a dangerous level, and increased demand for transportation infrastructure and services.
Although the Plan is too expensive, when it is complete, it will not be able to meet the demands because of the rate of growth of the Lower Mainland population.
While elected politicians complain about lack of funds to pay for the Plan, they have plenty to spend without accountability on fancy trips and generous raises and perks for themselves and their unions. Although they are well compensated, mayors increase their income by double dipping, rewarding themselves with a pay of 0.07% of TransLink budget. This amount reached $1.06 million in 2013. This arrangement creates a conflict of interest for the mayors because as they increase TransLink budget, their “reward” would increase, accordingly. It makes you wonder how Translink’s funds are managed, seeing the CEO made $468,015.00 in compensations and the top seven employees made more than $2.3 million. Before funding the Regional Transportation Plan, TransLink should be audited to see how its budget is managed and why taxpayers’ money is on the hook to pay two boards of directors (Operation & Mayoral boards). These two boards should be dismantled and replaced by an effective board of directors not appointed by or affiliated with the current governments (provincial and municipal) or their cronies. Mayors should not be paid by a company they are supposed to oversee on behalf of taxpayers.
In the City of Vancouver, the project for the Broadway corridor ($3 billion SkyTrain) is shortsighted. By the time, the project is completed, public transportation to the University of British Columbia (UBC) would be more congested than it is today because UBC can only be accessed through Vancouver’s already congested streets. Lack of affordable accommodations around campus forces UBC students to live all over the Lower Mainland.
The congestion problem will not be resolved until UBC change its policy–stop its exponential expansion of building luxury high rises, and builds enough affordable accommodations for its students on campus. This will alleviate the congestion created by student use of public transportation to and from UBC.
Still, the carrying capacity of streets in Vancouver is a major problem because the city was designed as a small town with narrow streets and no highways. Continuation of building high-rises in Vancouver is not environmentally sound. It would continue to increase pollution in the city and make the congestion problem unresolvable within the Lower Mainland regardless of the money spent on TransLink. The beneficiaries of the wave of building high-rises in Vancouver are the developers and the municipal parties (Vision and the Non-Partisan Association) who secure most of their campaign funding from those wealthy developers. The losers are the Vancouverites whose cost of living continues to increase despite the decrease of wages, and their ability to own a house in Vancouver became an unachievable “dream.” So, do not be fooled by those scare mongering politicians and their cronies. Say no to the new 0.5% sales tax increase. If they want to follow on with their shortsighted plan, let them fund it from the existing tax revenues.