Widespread road pricing, new transit funding, and de-privatizing B.C. Ferries are all on the menu should the BC Green Party find itself at the head of the table following the May 9 election.
The party is also pledging to press pause on the Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, pending a review of alternatives.
B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver rolled out the platform Thursday, which he says would prioritize regional planning and clean transportation.
Weaver says a Green government would boost funding for public transit by $25-million a year with the goal of increasing service and keeping fares low.
He says the Greens would also put up a new $152-million in provincial funding to fully match funds the federal Liberals promised last year as a part of a Public Transit Infrastructure fund.
He adds a Green government would match any federal infrastructure funding dollar for dollar.
“It’s good public policy to match federal investment, and we know that for every dollar we spend we’re getting a dolalr from the federal government that would feed into the B.C. economy.”
Weaver says the spending would be funded by an increase in the carbon tax $10 per year until it reaches $70/ ton.
On top of that, he says the greens would bring B.C. Ferries back into the fold as a crown corporation, arguing it is a public service and key link in the transportation network.
While the B.C. Liberals and BC NDP have been battling it out with duelling toll-slashing policies, the Greens are going the other way.
Weaver says not only would existing tolls be left in place, but that a Green government would toll any new major road project to fund it.
Weaver also opened the door to wider road pricing once better transit is in place, including schemes that look at pricing specific areas (the downtown peninsula, for example), or full network pricing in which all drivers pay, potentially based on how far they drive.
“If there are transportation options available. If there’s rapid transit going all the way out to Abbotsford for example. And you start to recognzie that downtown Vancouver is congested, we could model other jurisdictions. For example, in London, it was incredibly successful to implement congestion taxes.”
Arguing that current transportation planning has been piecemeal and overly road and bridge-focused, the Greens are also pitching a “10-year integrated transportation plan.”
Weaver says the plan would look at any infrastructure upgrades in the context of regional plans and prioritize clean transportation.
That would include the controversial Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, which Weaver says he’d put on hold while it gets a second look.
“Why are we talking about a Massey Bridge? Really it’s nothing more than a jobs creation plan that will kick the problem down to the Oak Street bridge and make it much worse. That’s not a transporation strategy. What we need is an integrated strategy. Why aren’t we talking about rapid transit from say Tsawwassen?”
He says the party will also back the mayors’ “10-year-vision” and match federal funding for it, support their regional transportation plans, and work together on coming up with a “rational tolling system.”
Weaver says the party would promote private sector investment in clean technology and transportation initiatives to spur job creation.
He says it would also introduce initiatives to promote low carbon transportation and encourage people to get out of their cars.
Ideas on the table include breaks on tolls or parking for electric vehicles, more charging stations, better bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and distance-based insurance.
Weaver says the party would also begin to assess future transportation investments in terms of sustainability and their effects on long-term emissions.