The B.C. government isn’t considering expanding tolls to existing bridges and roads in order to help pay for transportation costs.
“There is no change in our tolling policy at this time, nor do I see that happening in the near future,” Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom said after meeting with Metro Vancouver mayors to discuss the running and funding of TransLink.
Lekstrom said any decision to install tolls beyond the Golden Ears Bridge or the upcoming Port Mann Bridge would have to be made by the mayors’ council – which is made up of representatives from each of the 21 municipalities and the Tsawwassen First Nation.
The Golden Ears Bridge connecting Langley to Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge has had tolls since it opened in June 2009.
The council makes decisions about funding and operations of transit, roads, and bridges.
“I know that [expanded tolls] has been floated and I know major cities around the world have different options there, but I’m going to leave that to the mayors’ council,” Lekstrom said.
He said that, if the council came to him with a toll proposal, he would take it back to his cabinet for discussion.
But “as of today, we’re not” considering it, said Lekstrom.
The minister said he discussed short-and long-term funding, governance issues and an efficiency audit for TransLink with the council last week.
Council chairman Richard Walton, the mayor of North Vancouver District, said the council is working on a proposal for a new source of funding to cover a $30-million shortfall for various capital improvements.
The council has to come up with a plan before the legislature wraps up at the end of May, Walton said.