B.C. Green party leader Jane Sterk favours charging drivers to fund transit

The B.C. Green party is suggesting that road tolls and distance-based car insurance be implemented to ease urban traffic congestion and fund public transit.


Do you support the introduction of road tolls to fund public transit?

Yes 49%
106 votes
No 48%
103 votes
Undecided 3%
7 votes

Although Jane Sterk anticipates that the public will instinctively react against these measures, the provincial Green leader believes pay-as-you-drive systems are the way to go.

“There has been a tradition of believing that vehicle driving is some sort of sacrosanct privilege that we have, and there’s not been a lot of education of what it costs society for us to have that privilege,” Sterk told the Straight in a phone interview.

Several mayors in Metro Vancouver favour slapping a price on road usage in order to raise money for TransLink. But with a provincial election just months away, the two main political parties aren’t expected to come onboard. B.C. Liberal minister of transportation and infrastructure Mary Polak has previously stated that it’s up to the mayors to come up with a detailed proposal and proof that the public supports road pricing.

Polak’s counterpart on the Opposition benches indicated that a B.C. NDP government would look at other transit-funding options first. According to Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains, restoring corporate taxes to 2008 levels would generate about $300 million. “It’s not chump change,” Bains told the Straight by phone.

The new Port Mann Bridge will become the second tolled bridge in the Lower Mainland starting in December, but transportation economist Robin Lindsey suggested that crossing fees may divert traffic to other bridges.

The professor with the UBC Sauder School of Business floated the idea of tolling all 22 bridges and tunnels in the region. “One thing which I also recommend is that the toll be not the same level 24 hours, seven days a week,” Lindsey told the Straight in a phone interview. “If you want to use the toll to manage traffic, reduce the peak, spread the peak, you want the toll higher when the usage is heavy.”

District of North Vancouver mayor Richard Walton underscored the challenge of bringing forward measures like road pricing. “If you’re going to introduce any kind of major change, people will never trust the political system to introduce any kind of new tax or levy because they think it’s an additional one,” Walton said by phone.

Comments (19) Add New Comment
All forms of transportation cost money, and all of them are subsidised. The question is what percentage of the total costs the users of each mode are prepared to pay. Direct user fees for everyone would be more fair and efficient than how we fund transportation now.
Rating: +2
We need a National plan to drive down the cost of living in Canada. How about an assessment as where people live and where they work. ( aka minimize commuting)

From what I have read, close to 190,000 people commute to down town Vancouver every work day.

75,000 people commute to UBC every day.

When the NDP built Central City in Surrey with ICBC reserve funds, the BC Liberals (and I choke whenever I call them Liberals) reversed all the decisions that would have allowed Crown Corporations to move into Central City and the place sat vacant for 5 years.

Central City is on the Sky Train Line and would have reduced vehicle commuting for about 1,000 people or more.

This was done to keep Real Estate Values in Down Town Vancouver High. The last Bental Tower sold to a German Investment Group for $320 Million dollars. (God forbid Real Estate Values Fall)

UBC and the Endowment Lands could house 50 - 60 Thousand students and teahcers. (UBC is the single largest Work Place destination in Western Canada). All the housing that is filling in the space between UBC buildings is being sold at Full Market Prices and much of it is sold to Chinese Speculators.

When UBC Pres. David Strangway wanted to build a City for all the students at UBC so they could live cheap (F--king commie if he believes anything should be cheap in BC), all the Endowment Lands were removed from UBC control by Premier Van Der Zalm and renamed GVRD Pacific Spirit Park. (Premier Harcourt was too much of a Freaking Chicken to reverse the decision)

After all what the F--- would happen to Real Estate Values and Rents, if 75,000 people could live cheap at UBC and not need apartments and basement suites on the West Side of Vancouver.

All the land surrounding SFU is being developed for housing at Full Market Prices.

These are 2 examples of Governments working in the Best Interests of Wealthy Individuals and Corporations, instead of the Best Interests of the Good citizens and Taxpayers of BC.

Common sense isn't very common is it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rating: +2
You guys messed up the wording for this poll. What you meant to type was:

"Do you support the introduction of road tolls to fund giant undeserved bonuses for scum-fuck executives at Translink?"

Nothing will fix the transportation problems until we all admit that "Public-Private-Partnerships" are a fucking scam. Until we change that, all new tax money sent to Translink will be given to executive trash, to be spent on golf, cocaine, and botox for their plastic trophy wives.
Rating: +1
Agree PPP are Scams initiated by Scambell the Drunk Driver.

Reform Translink first.

Fire the Executives including all the PR people,

Fire the overstaffed Bureaucracy.

Get competitive bids on Buses so we are not paying $550,000 to about $1 Million per Bus...

etc etc Before ANY New Funding!
Rating: +4
This is just another politician who thinks the answer to everything is to take more money from consumers. Politicians, unlike everyone else don't have to balance a budget. We should tax the useless hot air that comes from the mouths of politicians like Jane Sterk
Rating: -3
Lee L.
Road pricing... sounds innocuous enough. But what is it really?
It almost came into being in Holland, and except for a collapse of their minority government, would be reality today. You can find out about it by googling 'netherlands road pricing' or go to


Here is what Mayors Walton, Robertson,Watts and Translink are planning.

Road pricing....
First, YOUR provincial and municipal government will force all cars to have installed a satellight GPS tracking transponder to record the car's whereabouts and movements 24 hrs per day 7 days per week. YOU pay for the transponder, YOU pay for the install. It will be illegal to drive without a transponder active and that lcan be enforced by cancelling your manditory government auto insurance(ICBC) if you drive without one working. Sounds too crazy? Email your mayor and ask.

From the second by second monitoring of your whereabouts and movements, an agency calculates where you have been and where you stopped at any time of day or night. From this information, it sends you a bill for using the roads that we, as citizens and taxpayers, have already paid to build by previous taxation. You dont get to negotiate the road price.
Not enought to charge you for driving, but also for NOT driving the car and call that 'parking tax' as a transportaion planner for City of Vancouver once said to me.

Think about that for a moment. Really think. You can no longer move about freely without paying, you can't move about freely without government recording your whereabouts.
This sounds bizarre, but it IS what these mayors want and it is what Jane Sterk is really 'favours'. Just ask her.

Electronic 'road pricing' is an outrageous violation of every citizen's right to freedom of movement and privacy.
Yet, these rights may be violated and DISCARDED for what reason?...

Because we are being invaded? Is there a terrorist threat that demands it? Are we at war? No.

Translink planners just happen to THINK that we are going to need more buses and fewer cars. Imagine.

How will we explain to our grandchildren that we VOLUNTARILY GAVE AWAY THE RIGHT to live our own private lives in order to pay for a few buses?
Did not Canadians die by the score in Holland during WWII to secure a Dutch citizen's right to leave home and move about without presenting papers and being tracked? It seems the Dutch have lost sight of that, but we should not.

This is absolutely NOT AN ACCEPTABLE USE of the power to tax. It is an egregious violation of our free society's civil rights. And it doesn't matter if other countries have been negligent and stupid enough to go along with it.

It needs to be resisted. Email your mayor. Email your MLA.

SHAME ON YOU Mayor Walton, Gregor Robertson, Dianne Watts and any others (Sterk) who are willing to trade one of our basic freedoms for political expediency.

Shame on you. I won't sit by while you make me explain to my grandchildren why they need to wear a sidewalk bracelet to pay for the right to walk to school.
Rating: -2
Figure out and disseminate widely the full cost of driving a car - don't forget the portion of the impact of carbon dioxide on climate and ocean. Charge a blanket portion of that to drivers (or add a bigger tax to gas and oil). For the rest, great idea from Jane Sterk to use insurance to make charges more fair. Then provide (more) support for people to car pool, bike (we need better bike trailers), set up satellite offices, etc. In a few years we'll have enough in the transit coffers (assuming we've reformed translink) to expand the mass transit system. But maybe by then we won't need it because we'll all be addicted to riding those bike trains to and from work . . .
Rating: +2
I live in South Delta and we basically had a transit cut when the Canada Line came into operation and we lost our direct bus service into Vancouver.
Going anywhere using the bus/Canada line combo is much longer.

To get around i have, a car, take transit, a bike and two legs.
i would love to get rid of my car but guess what, the transit is so bad i have to keep a stupid car on the road.
No way do i want to pay tolls to provide for transit-can't afford it.
We need to stop building so many roads/freeways and put that money into transit systems that actually make sense.

Oh yeah, as i use my car as little as possible maybe once or twice a week at most but still pay the same as someone who uses their car everyday and drives for hours.
Do i think ICBC will ever recognize that as i'm on the road a lot less than most, my risk of having an accident is also a lot less and give me a break on their rates?
If you think so, i have a bridge with tolls to sell you.
Rating: +7
This so called "road pricing" is just a cash grab.

Translink has already proven that they don't know how to use the public's funds wisely.

Anybody who thinks that giving Translink extra cash will make them more efficient, is sadly mistaken.
Rating: -4
James G
@ Lee L

Excellent post. Thank you.
Rating: -1
We already have a road pricing tax. It's called the Carbon Tax. And if you think anything great is being done with it....you have your head up your ass.
Rating: -3
Evil Eye
Let's cut to the chase - the real reason that TransLink is in a financial quagmire is the SkyTrain and Canada Line light-metro systems. They are hugely subsidized.

On page 15, in the 1993, joint GVRD/Min. of Transportation report, “The Cost of Transporting People in the BC Lower Mainland”, it was revealed that the annual provincial subsidy for SkyTrain was $157.6 million; the combined subsidy for the diesel and trolley buses was just $132.4 million. With the addition of the Millennium Line, this subsidy increased to over $200 million and with the Canada line, this annual subsidy has now surpassed $300 million.

What is interesting is just the SkyTrain Expo Line had a higher subsidy that both all the trolly and diesel bus lines together!!!

Road pricing will just continue Translinks tax and spend SkyTrain only planning policy, which in turn will only create a higher demand by Translink for higher and higher road pricing fees.

Rating: -3
Don Barthel
I agree with Jane Sterk, that *using* a car should be taxed, not owning a car. Using gas should be taxed, rolling on the road should be taxed, but not parking a car in your driveway.

The tax should be proportional to the cost of maintaining the roads, maintaining transit and scrubbing the atmosphere of CO2. Right now payers of non-road taxes subsidize the roads and transit.

I also agree with other posters who want to fire the bigwigs at the unelected Translink and reform it. Same goes for BC Ferries.
Rating: +2
no tolls for low income
Putting a toll on car travel just penalizes the poor. If you're unemployed and on welfare, you need to be able to get to jobs out of the core area - and why should you be forced to sit on a bus all day anyway? Its same reason why the Raise the Rates activists say that a cellphone is a necessity for low income welfare recipients - they have to use it to look for a job. Right?
Rating: +4
there's one simple solution to all these carbon taxes, oil wars, green house gas emissions, and 24 hour transponder surveillance.

Rating: 0
We should pay for rapid transit expansions with a land value tax - especially on the real estate appreciation that a skytrain line causes.
Rating: 0
James G
Until the Green Party in B.C. and in Canada answer the one fundamental question of 'who pays' for cleaning up the environmental catastrophe, they can never be taken seriously. It shows that what works as a focus or lobby group doesn't automatically make a political party.

In Europe, Green Parties are a more sophisticated lot and have made choices. In the Netherlands, for example, there is a Green Left Party that I would be glad to see as an option on my ballot here in Canada. In a preferential ballot, they would likely get a '2' from me after the NDP's '1'. I could not bring myself, even if paid and not even at gunpoint to vote for the Green Party as is. (Sure, I'd donate the money elsewhere and lie to save my life but still no vote).

What we have instead is so sadly attempting to have everything both ways all the time. They try to diffuse green values amongst all and honourably enough but there is a dichotomy. There is a big difference between uprooting entire working class populations of resource towns and standing against the windfall profits of an international mining consortium. In the latter, shareholders take home less loot and in the former, some end up unemployed, destitute, homeless or dead. The Greens refuse to acknowledge this obvious discrepancy.

Saying we all must do our part, we are all guilty and all must pay is realistic and right. We all must repair and restore what we can. There is the question of who has most benefited from the past 3 decades where we have lost control over manufacturing processes since they have been outsourced to places over which green values have no domain. It is only justice that the burden of cleaning up the environment fall and in a massively disproportionate manner upon the top financial echelon. I suggest that the top 5 per cent of persons should offer to shoulder 50 per cent of the cost of all environmental clean up initiatives in all countries starting from now. Pony up, wealthy environmentalist phonies and opponents alike... matching funds! You've made a killing ... private islands, private armies, superPacs for everyone just left of Hitler and lives of excess -- PONY UP! 50 from 5 or fight! Of course, this is just my particular take on what environmental justice looks like and I am much further left than the party for whom I will vote.

The lowest ten percent have nothing to spare, add the working poor, it now brings us to nearly 45 per cent. These can pay with true tax shifts and those of us (including myself) of the remaining 45 percent can provide the rest -- about 45 percent of the people shouldering 45 percent of the cost.

Making that kind of commitment would energize the young and the less affluent of the Green Party membership but they never could. The party reaches to it's right wing and it's affluent members for both donations and candidates. Therefore it is stuck with eco-fascist ideas like the one above. The problem there is that their less economically challenged members and supporters are primarily libertarian.

This is where the party started and where it has stalled. Every policy announcement drives potential support away, every vote for the Green Party is in a way a vote against it and if by any accident it found itself in government it would immediately collapse under the weight of it's own contradictions.

We in British Columbia are in for the fight of the provinces' life over the Enbridge pipeline. We need green values but in a realistic political vehicle. We have one. It is imperfect, it will annoy and it will make mistakes (perhaps on fracking, perhaps worse). There is always the question of how to apply the public will to policy that will stick but the NDP can win an election and if anyone can stop this pipeline, it is them and it is us.
Rating: -3
Lee L.
@ Angma

Yea.. and the new Chinese drivers will laugh at you and your bike trains while they ditch their bikes as fast as they can afford it... driving to work on the fuel you didnt burn..which was exported from the USA to China rather than from the USA to Canada. ( Vancouver ).

You have been indoctrinated.
Rating: 0
Don G.
Greens will save money by reforming health care, which is the biggest govt expense. Greens are for small govt.
Rating: -6
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