Mayors think a tax on all the containers that move through the region could help subsidize TransLink and ease the hit to motorists and homeowners.

Mayors to push for TransLink container tax

Port, goods movers expected to fight the proposal

A tax on each shipping container that passes through Metro Vancouver is being eyed by area mayors as one way to help finance transit expansion without digging as deeply into the wallets of local residents.

With 2.5 million containers passing through the port each year, even a $10 per container tax would generate $25 million a year – more than a third of the $70 million a year TransLink needs to raise to finance both the Evergreen Line and a broader package of transit upgrades.

TransLink’s current proposal calls for a two-cent-per-litre increase in the gas tax to raise $40 milllion a year, with the remaining $30 million to come from other sources negotiated later with the province.

If there’s no agreement within a year on the new sources – such as a vehicle levy, road pricing or a second carbon tax – property taxes would go up temporarily instead.

A container tax will be pursued in the fall as one possible alternative, said North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton, who chairs the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation.

“It’s one source we’d like to see in place,” he said. “There’s obviously going to be some differences of opinion. There’s going to be some pushback.”

The provincial government rejected the idea when TransLink last proposed a cargo container tax in early 2009.

Port Metro Vancouver officials had said it would be too heavy a burden for businesses during a recession.

But now, with the economy improved, a new premier in charge and a provincial election that could come soon, mayors figure it’s worth another try.

Walton said the rationale for such a container tax still exists.

Heavy, slow-moving container trucks beat up roads and bridges and add to congestion on major arteries, especially near intersections.

And, he said, truckers could benefit from reduced congestion if a tax on containers helps fund transit expansion, leading more motorists to park their cars.

“The more public transit you provide the fewer cars there are on the road and you free up capacity.”

Nobody wants to pay higher taxes for TransLink, Walton said, adding a container tax is one more way to expand the number of revenue sources and spread around the pain to deliver more service.

“There’s no silver bullet for this,” he said. “There’s only silver buckshot.”

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, chair of the Metro Vancouver board, also backs the idea.

“The big rigs hauling containers are using a lot of road space so they should be paying some of these costs,” she said.

“It seems to me $5 a container – or anything – would be better than nothing.”

The idea isn’t unprecedented – several U.S. ports already tax containers.

Mayors in May adopted a set of guiding principles for future funding of regional transportation.

One plank of the document says money should be raised from the goods movement industry “to offset the costs of transporting goods throughout Metro Vancouver, recognizing its role as a gateway to the province and the nation.”

Bob Wilds, managing director of the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council, said a container tax would damage Port Metro Vancouver’s ability to compete against ports in Seattle and Tacoma.

“We’d certainly be opposed to any kind of tax on containers,” he said.

“We’re already paying the highest fuel taxes compared to most other places.”

Port officials also argue that since more than half of containers are shipped through Metro Vancouver by rail, a tax for road work on train-hauled cargo would be unfair.

Dump trucks and other heavy trucks that don’t haul containers but also use the roads, meanwhile, would not have to pay the tax.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom said in an email he could not comment on the idea of a container tax since TransLink hasn’t formally proposed one.

He said Port Metro Vancouver has a very competitive tax structure, adding it’s “one of the reasons why the Pacific Gateway is the preferred gateway for trade with North America and the world.”

As a result, Lekstrom said, terminal operators have invested more than $600 million here over the last three years.

Just Posted

Police watchdog investigating after pedestrian struck and killed in Surrey

IIO investigating after male killed in crash shortly after being released from police custody

Surrey Mounties say 40 intoxicated teens found on ‘party bus’ in Newton

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Strawberry Hill

PHOTOS: Players putt their way to Las Vegas at Surrey MSOP tournament

Two-day regional qualifier held at Eaglequest Coyote Creek

Electric car-share company to bring 2,000 vehicles to Surrey/White Rock

SUMO is to launch next year with 150 vehicles, and increase to 2,000 by 2022

B.C. cabinet minister denies that Surrey mayor’s friend attended government meeting

Surrey councillor questions Vancouver businessman Bob Cheema’s involvement in official meeting

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Vancouver police could be using drones to fight crime by end of year

The police department has already purchased three drones, as well as three others for training

Grand opening of Molson Coors Fraser Valley Brewery at Chilliwack cause for celebration

Ribbon-cutting with dignitaries, Molson brass and family marked the official grand opening

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Powder the muskets, zombies are coming!

Fort Langley National Historic Site offers up A Survivalist’s Guide to a Zombie Apocalypse, Sept. 28

Most Read

l -->