Listening to the reaction from across Metro Vancouver from those frustrated by the removal of tolls from the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges, it’s clear many are calling for a user-pay system (or mobility pricing, to use the current buzz-phrase).
While local drivers were lauding Premier John Horgan’s announcement Friday of the elimination of tolls from the two Fraser River bridges at the north end of Surrey, the anger from those who have no plans to cross the Fraser River and the question, from critics, of ‘who will pay?’ have been heard loud and clear.
The answer to this latter question, of course, is taxpayers – the same people who pay for the Lions Gate and Ironworkers Memorial (Second Narrows) bridges between Vancouver and the North Shore, and the Oak Street Bridge between Richmond and Vancouver.
The price will be footed by the self-same B.C. residents who pay for the subsidies for BC Ferries between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay or Nanaimo, between Horseshoe Bay and Duke Point, and the smaller runs out to the Sunshine Coast and to the Gulf Islands.
Those paying for the Port Mann and Golden Ears will include the same taxpayers – both those with and without children, grandchildren and young extended-family members – who fund our schools, and those who pay for our health care, regardless of their own medical needs, both real and feared.
It will include those who pay for our police forces and fire departments, irrespective of whether one has ever suffered or initiated a crime and regardless of whether one has survived an emergency.
Yes, it will include those who have never asked for government intervention and also those who call their MLA’s office almost weekly. It will include those who access our court system, those who pay for our military and those who subsidize our charities, our faith organizations and our non-profit groups.
And, of course, it will include those who pay for other provincial roadways, throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and the rest of British Columbia.
Those who are calling for a true user-pay system for Surrey drivers have, no doubt, thought it through. But they might just end up regretting it if their leaders are easily swayed by their arguments.