Mayor Wayne Baldwin warns that if the plebiscite doesn't pass

Mayor Wayne Baldwin warns that if the plebiscite doesn't pass

We’ll pay more for less service: Baldwin

White Rock mayor urges ‘yes’ vote on upcoming transit plebescite

If the upcoming transit plebiscite fails, White Rock residents will pay more for limited services, the city’s mayor told council Monday.

The question to be posed to Metro Vancouver residents this spring asks if they will support a new 0.5-per-cent Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax to be dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit plan.

If the answer is ‘no’, the next source of funding that will be looked at will be property taxes, Baldwin said, which would be a big hit for the city’s taxpayers.

“In an area like White Rock, where there is a very high assessment, we’re going to find that we pay the lion’s share of this based on (property) assessments,” he said.

“We’ll pay more, and we’ll get less service for it.”

Baldwin said that mayors had looked at other revenue sources – including a carbon tax, vehicle levy and mobility pricing.

“But what you can use, the province said, is property tax,” Baldwin said. “Property tax is Plan B, so if this fails, everything falls on the property tax.”

The discussion on the plebiscite – which other cities, including Surrey and Vancouver are urging a ‘yes’ vote for – came up after the city’s director of engineering and municipal operations presented council with a corporate report.

Greg St. Louis noted there would be two specific benefits to White Rock if TransLink begins building more South of the Fraser – Surrey’s Light Rail Transit on King George Boulevard, which would help residents get to the SkyTrain faster, and the extension of the 96 B-line to White Rock.

However, Coun. David Chesney pointed out that none of the transit improvements directly benefit the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

“Where, in your mind, (would) the boundary for South Surrey be?” he asked St. Louis. “Do you consider Newton as part of South Surrey?”

St. Louis noted that as a transit user, he would find any improvement to getting to the SkyTrain quicker welcome.

“As a regular user of transit, too,” Chesney countered, “I much appreciate the ability to get up to SkyTrain quicker. In the present system, the 321 is a half-day journey, but I just don’t see anything – as much as I’d like to – specifically for South Surrey or White Rock.”

While Baldwin acknowledged “we’re not well served South of the Fraser,” he noted that if the improvements to Langley and Surrey don’t occur, the congestion would only increase.

“If you think it’s bad now, wait until there is another 600,000 (cars) on the road,” he said. “So it’s looking ahead, is what it is.”

White Rock has taken no formal position on the plebiscite.